While Joe Biden shows an inability to climb stairs, having face-planted no less than three times yesterday trying to board Air Force One, his wife is hitting the road to promote the latest COVID “relief” bill.
Why a first lady is taking on the role of political propagandist is an interesting question.
Jill Biden hits the road as a key messenger on the White House’s stimulus victory lap https://t.co/D5LDLWWjJG
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) March 20, 2021
Traditionally, first ladies head up some largely non-partisan, pet project and stick to that. To the extent that they have any role in governance, it’s extremely unusual for them to involve themselves with highly political matters such as a bill that passed on a party-line vote. Melania Trump had her no-bullying campaign. Michelle Obama made school lunches taste terrible.
So why is Jill Biden once again pretending she’s an elected official? I’d guess it’s for the same reason she’s done so many “joint” interviews with her husband, appearing with him to be his handler and interject when his mind starts to melt (see Jill and Joe Biden Do Yet Another Joint Interview, and It’s Really Awkard). Not only is Jill nakedly ambitious, far more than any first lady in recent memory, Joe Biden simply doesn’t function at a high enough level to fulfill the duties of his office alone. Thus, you get Jill running around acting as if she’s actually the president. It’s really, really awkward.
With the actual president unable to travel at a high rate alone to promote his big “achievement,” his wife is taking on that role, while Joe mostly meanders around and heads home to Delaware every weekend, making the occasional trip as he did to Atlanta recently (here’s Biden’s travel schedule). The current president is the least independent entity in the position in modern history, so Jill is taking the opportunity to play-act as one, in my opinion.
There’s another aspect of this, though. Remember, under Obama, not only did the president himself travel around promoting his stimulus bill, but he charged a then far more mentally fit Joe Biden with doing the same and pushing certain projects. While Harris has found herself mostly sidelined in the first few months of the new administration, she and her husband are said to be hitting the road as well, but it’s an awkward mix of power roles with Jill being so prominently featured. Whether there’s any friction there, who knows.
The depth to which the current president is compromised is hard to fathom. We have a man who can’t climb stairs, still hasn’t done a press conference, skipped the traditional first address to Congress, and struggles to read a teleprompter set on size 40 font for tens minutes at a time. Now, we have a First Lady operating at a political level I can’t recall since Hillary Clinton tried to reform healthcare. We all know how well that went, but ambition is a hard thing to tame. Frankly, I’ve always taken the position that a First Lady isn’t elected and doesn’t really have any business getting so involved in political matters. But this is the situation we’ve been presented with.
Editor’s note: this article was edited for content after publication.