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Diagnosing Dr. Biden (Jill)
National Review Online ^ | April 26, 2013 | Charles C. W. Cooke

Posted on 04/26/2013 3:16:22 PM PDT by neverdem

The second lady exemplifies a bloated class of people with irrelevant, unimpressive titles.

Doctor Biden has joined Twitter as @DrBiden. The account is “run by Dr. Jill Biden’s Office,” and it tells us absorbing things about Dr. Biden — things such as “Yesterday, Dr. Biden hosted an education roundtable” and “Yesterday, Dr. Biden honored the nation’s top teachers.” It retweets praise, too: “Thank you Dr. Biden for your work as an educator and as a voice for all educators in our nation,” reads one tribute. If a tweet is signed “Jill,” the doctoral bio informs us, this indicates that it is a “tweet from Dr. Biden.” “Jill,” if you’re wondering, is Dr. Biden’s nickname. Her formal name is “Dr.”

Wherever she goes and whatever she does, Dr. Biden is always referred to as “Dr. Biden.” “Is Joe Biden married to a physician?” wondered the Los Angeles Times in January. “You might have gotten that impression while watching television coverage of the inauguration.” Yes, you might have indeed.

Dr. Biden isn’t a physician, of course. She has a doctorate – in “educational leadership,” whatever the hell that is. This Ed.D gives her the right to call herself “Dr.” in much the same way as my Master’s degree gives me the right to put MA after my name. Perhaps my Twitter handle should be @MA(Oxon)Charles?

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Or . . . perhaps not. It’s not @MA(Oxon)Charles because I’m keenly aware that my non-vocational education really isn’t that important to anybody other than me. (And, perhaps, my mother.) Dr. Biden has made a different judgment about the value of hers, and in doing so she has become another symptom of our Potemkin aristocracy, to which only those who have letters after their name may belong.

Titles of nobility be damned; as a means of signaling that one is a person of general acceptability, an advanced degree now works wonders. No doubt many will look at the second lady’s splendid moniker and think, “Gosh, Dr. Biden must be smart! She is definitely not a mechanic.”

Dr. Biden is not alone in having recognized the virtue of pretending to be a doctor in public. The L.A. Times has identified a “select group of non-medicos who are routinely referred to as ‘Dr.’” The most prominent of these are Dr. Cornel West and Dr. Maya Angelou. Given his leveling views, quite why Cornel West insists upon describing himself as “Dr. West” is beyond me. Still, whatever the reason, at least he actually uses his Princeton doctorate, in academia. Maya Angelou’s title is derived from the more than 30 honorary doctorates that she has been awarded. Why does she add the “Dr.”? “The Ph.D. system,” complains the renegade British-American physicist Freeman Dyson, “is the real root of the evil of academic snobbery. People who have Ph.D.s consider themselves a priesthood.” Ah, that’s why.

It’s somewhat by chance that the recipients of Ph.D.s may even presume to call themselves “doctors,” the unfortunate product of a thousand-year-old liberal-arts tradition’s being seized upon by technocratic Prussians in the age of Bismarck, transformed into a paradigm of German authoritarian efficiency, and then exported back into Western faculties, including many in which it simply does not belong. “Ph.D.” stands for “Philosophiae Doctor,” a Latin term that (rather obviously) means “Doctor of Philosophy” in English. The “Philosophy” bit was intended loosely, in the classical sense of “love of learning”; the “Doctor” bit derives from “docere,” which simply means “to teach.”

Yet in most countries now, one requires a specialized “research” Ph.D. before one is allowed to teach in one’s specialized field. This makes a lot of sense when it comes to, say, biology but not so much when it comes to English literature; nevertheless, whether you are a research chemist or a student of English literature, you are termed a “doctor” if you reach a certain level.

It is appreciable why a medical doctor might advertise his skill set to the public. But there is no solid reason whatsoever why someone with a Ph.D. would need the wider world to know that he is possessed of the necessary credentials to teach in a university. American etiquette books tend to mark this dichotomy, holding that it is acceptable for Ph.D.s to use “Dr.” within the context of their business but inappropriate everywhere else.

One can only wonder what Dr. Biden’s response would be to the urgent question “Is there a doctor in the house?!” Perhaps “Yes! Don’t worry, I’m here! I’m not too sure how to do a tracheotomy, though . . . ”

In 2011, the New York Times reported that credential snobbery was causing real-world problems:

With pain in her right ear, Sue Cassidy went to a clinic. The doctor, wearing a white lab coat with a stethoscope in one pocket, introduced herself.

“Hi. I’m Dr. Patti McCarver, and I’m your nurse,” she said. And with that, Dr. McCarver stuck a scope in Ms. Cassidy’s ear, noticed a buildup of fluid and prescribed an allergy medicine.

It was something that will become increasingly routine for patients: a someone who is not a physician using the title of doctor.

Urged on by the American Academy of Family Physicians — which is concerned that, as more nurses like Dr. McCarver join the ranks of the highly and often uselessly credentialed, they will create confusion among patients — some states have moved to clear things up. New York State is considering blocking nurses from describing themselves as “Doctor” altogether. In Delaware and Arizona it is illegal for a non-medical doctor to present himself as “Doctor” in a professional context without explaining explicitly that he isn’t one. Congress, too, has considered legislation.

“The average Ph.D. thesis,” swiped the newspaper columnist J. Frank Dobie, “is nothing but a transference of bones from one graveyard to another.” Nobody who has read the average Ph.D. thesis could disagree. Nonetheless, there are more theses, more bones, and more graveyards than ever. By brazenly encouraging the education bubble and prioritizing the collection of trophy credentials, our elites are creating a steady stream of future Dr. Bidens. The Not-a-Dr. Biden, Joe, likes to joke to fellow Ph.D. holders that his wife’s advanced degree has not greatly increased her salary. True. But, as the quip implies, it has increased her prestige, and that’s just as important.

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare asked. “That which we call a rose / by any other name would smell as sweet.” Perhaps so. But whatever you call it, it remains a rose. Medical doctors are indisputably useful; perpetual liberal-arts students are quite the opposite. Until the bubble bursts there appears little that we can do about our great education fetish, but, if we can’t stop the grad students from multiplying, at least we can stop the multiplication of their honorifics.

— Charles C. W. Cooke, B.A., M.A., is an editorial associate at National Review.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Political Humor/Cartoons; US: Delaware
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 04/26/2013 3:16:22 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

She is ok in my Book anyone that would marry the handicap must a ok ?


2 posted on 04/26/2013 3:18:20 PM PDT by al baby (Hi Mom)
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To: neverdem

Jill Biden taught English at my high school while I was there.


3 posted on 04/26/2013 3:19:09 PM PDT by EEGator
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To: neverdem

To bad she isn’t a psychiatrist. Being married to an idiot is not what one would like to be remembered for, VP or not.


4 posted on 04/26/2013 3:22:42 PM PDT by mardi59 (IMPEACH OBAMA NOW!!!!!)
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To: neverdem

Lots of people call themselves “Dr”. “Dr”. David Duke, for example. And “Dr”. Bashar Assad (playing ophtalmologist with his glasses made from windowglass).


5 posted on 04/26/2013 3:22:53 PM PDT by Hardraade (http://junipersec.wordpress.com (Vendetta))
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To: neverdem

I wonder whatever happened to the “Military Families” gig Biden and Moochelle used to have. Don’t see much about it on TV anymore. I guess being a “lame duck” has different priorities.


6 posted on 04/26/2013 3:25:01 PM PDT by FlingWingFlyer (I got expelled from the "fundamental transformation" indoctrination center.)
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To: neverdem
“The average Ph.D. thesis is nothing but a transference of bones from one graveyard to another. Nonetheless, there are more theses, more bones, and more graveyards than ever.”

No truer words have ever been spoken.

7 posted on 04/26/2013 3:28:15 PM PDT by Uncle Chip
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To: neverdem

Joe must have a big schlong, because other than that, I can’t think of a reason why anyone would want him.


8 posted on 04/26/2013 3:29:19 PM PDT by mass55th (Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway...John Wayne)
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To: EEGator

And let me guess — you were more impressed with her legs than her words.


9 posted on 04/26/2013 3:29:26 PM PDT by Uncle Chip
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To: al baby

What handicap?


10 posted on 04/26/2013 3:29:31 PM PDT by bigheadfred
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To: neverdem
Well. Isn't she special?

-Dr. clintonh8r

11 posted on 04/26/2013 3:30:14 PM PDT by clintonh8r ("Europe was created by history. America was created by a philosophy." Baroness Thatcher)
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To: neverdem

The example of a nurse (presumably with a Ph.D. in nursing) diagnosing an ear infection doesn’t really fit the rest of the column. A nurse or physician assistant is capable of a great deal of simple medical procedure, irrespective of a Ph.D. Even a parent with an otoscope can diagnose an ear infection.


12 posted on 04/26/2013 3:34:30 PM PDT by Tax-chick ("I think amnesty is deader than a Chechen bomber." ~ LS)
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To: Uncle Chip

This was in 1993, so she did have a nice pair of gams. I had the other English teacher though.


13 posted on 04/26/2013 3:34:53 PM PDT by EEGator
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To: FReepers
Did You Hear It First On FR?


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Support FR, Donate Monthly If You Can

14 posted on 04/26/2013 3:36:02 PM PDT by DJ MacWoW (My faith and politics cannot be separated)
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To: neverdem

This is simple, don’t ask if they are a doctor. Ask if they are a physician. As a retired teacher, I saw this a lot in education.


15 posted on 04/26/2013 3:37:52 PM PDT by jonsie
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To: neverdem

I sometimes refer to Dr. mrs jimfree by her academic title. She’s actually a skilled historian and writer who has been published in journals as well as writing a book that is part of a reference series. I am very proud of my scholar.

jim
BS, BS (yes I have two of them), MS


16 posted on 04/26/2013 3:38:11 PM PDT by jimfree (In November 2016 my 12 y/o granddaughter will have more quality exec experience than Barack Obama)
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To: neverdem
Until the bubble bursts there appears little that we can do about our great education fetish,

It's not just at the doctoral level. Our national fetish with formal schooling is strange and creepy.

I went to school, and I can't understand how anyone else who did would want to send their kids. I'm like Rush, who hated school from day one. He wanted to be free, like the kids outside.

17 posted on 04/26/2013 3:38:42 PM PDT by St_Thomas_Aquinas
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To: neverdem

PhDs were referred to as doctors hundreds of years before medical doctors ever existed. It is the MD that co-opted the title in order to elevate their standing above being an ordinary barber.


18 posted on 04/26/2013 3:41:01 PM PDT by Kirkwood (Zombie Hunter)
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To: EEGator
I had the other English teacher though.

It always happens that way.

19 posted on 04/26/2013 3:51:05 PM PDT by Uncle Chip
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To: neverdem

I had a professor in undergraduate school who put it this way:

“If a doctor shows enough promise while working on his MD, he might be allowed to continue studying to earn his Doctorate.”

At the time, he was miffed that the Lexington, KY Herald-Leader had decided to quit using “Dr” to address anyone except a physician. I must admit, if I had spent the time, money, and effort earning a PhD, I’d flaunt it.


20 posted on 04/26/2013 4:02:50 PM PDT by Stegall Tx (Teaching part time and enjoying it. I just can't afford it!)
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To: neverdem
Charles C. W. Cooke, B.A., M.A., is an editorial associate at National Review...couldn't get into a doctoral program, eh?.....
21 posted on 04/26/2013 4:35:27 PM PDT by Intolerant in NJ
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To: Kirkwood
True, but it's been the custom for a couple hundred years now that only medical doctors use their title socially.

That may be self-aggrandizing, as you suggest, or it may be that it's important to know who the M.D.s are if somebody has a heart attack or an auto accident.

The fact that "Dr." Biden is ignoring a social standard that has been pretty stable all the way from the old Boston days is the problem here, not whether that standard is, in itself, just. And to push oneself forward as a "Dr." on the basis of a doctorate in Education (the field with the rock bottom S.A.T. scores) is just embarrassing.

22 posted on 04/26/2013 4:42:04 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGS Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: neverdem

ouch.


23 posted on 04/26/2013 4:46:56 PM PDT by 4Liberty (Some on our "Roads & Bridges" head to the beach. Others head to their offices, farms, libraries....)
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To: neverdem

So when addressing the Bidens, we should use PhUJB instead of FUJB????? Just asking.


24 posted on 04/26/2013 4:51:43 PM PDT by Polyxene (Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice.)
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To: Polyxene

So when addressing the Bidens, we should use PhUJB instead of FUJB????? Just asking.


: )


25 posted on 04/26/2013 4:53:21 PM PDT by MWestMom ( "I will not sit quietly and let [the president] shed the constitution." Senator Rand Paul)
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To: FlingWingFlyer

I wonder whatever happened to the “Military Families” gig Biden and Moochelle used to have. Don’t see much about it on TV anymore. I guess being a “lame duck” has different priorities.

No they are flying around. They were in Maryland two weeks ago signing a bill that makes Veterans able to get employed without having their certification. They can use their experience instead. Eventually they are going to have it go nationwide.


26 posted on 04/26/2013 6:28:07 PM PDT by napscoordinator (Santorum-Bachmann 2016 for the future of the Country!)
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To: neverdem

Reminiscent of “Please call me ‘Senator’”.


27 posted on 04/26/2013 6:34:39 PM PDT by clintonh8r ("Europe was created by history. America was created by a philosophy." Baroness Thatcher)
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To: neverdem

No class in either one. I guess it’s “birds of a feather....”


28 posted on 04/26/2013 6:34:43 PM PDT by NTHockey (Rules of engagement #1: Take no prisoners)
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To: neverdem

That’s it! You may now call me “Master Makana.”


29 posted on 04/27/2013 4:00:18 AM PDT by Makana (MEd, MBA)
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To: Intolerant in NJ

I always understood one got one’s MA in history while one is waiting to get into law school.


30 posted on 04/27/2013 5:09:49 AM PDT by Chickensoup (200 million unarmed " people killed in the 20th century by Leftist Totalitarian Fascists)
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To: Chickensoup
I always understood one got one’s MA in history while one is waiting to get into law school...even better - probably easier to get into many law schools than into many doctoral prgrams.....
31 posted on 04/27/2013 9:32:13 PM PDT by Intolerant in NJ
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