In times of deep social strife and economic crisis, who needs reality when covering the First Lady?
The news has been splashed around media circles, as there is excitement from those in the press over the announcement that Harper’s Bazaar has decided — for the first time in history — to feature the First Lady on the cover of its magazine. The appearance of Dr. St. Jill Biden marks something that has not occurred in over one-and-a-half centuries.
It also has not occurred to many readers, with a monthly paid issue total of about 50,000 copies. The last time Harper’s moved the needle socially was back in 2020 when it produced the infamous anti-cancel-culture letter signed by 50 leftist writers. Upon that release, a number of signees disavowed their inclusion in the call for tolerance — because they could not tolerate some of the other writers who had signed.
Look, when you see the cover you know instantly that what you are being served will not be an objective think-piece. During four years in the White House, designer model Melania Trump was noticeably ignored by the fashion press. (Vogue instead featured the combatants, with a spread on female White House correspondents.) Dr. First Lady St. Jill Biden meanwhile has now landed her second cover feature spread in a couture rag, in less than a year-and-a-half. The effect is far less than glamorous.
After Anna Wintour avowed to never feature Melania, once the Biden administration arrived, Vogue went into a publishing paroxysm. Prior to Dr. St. Jill’s anointing in print, we had Vice President Kamala Harris on the cover, and later a lengthy feature was published on Jen Psaki. Since then, however, things have turned far less stylish. Harris has proven herself inept and Psaki, charged with making Joe look competent, was overmatched in that toughest role in Washington.
Jill, in the interim, has been seen as everything from a deflector to an enabler, all while her husband has rapidly achieved approval numbers worse than his perceived monstrosity of a predecessor. So by the time Harper’s Bazaar comes out with this glowing feature the desperation is more evident than the fashions on the page. Where those early Vogue Magazine dispatches were partisan agitprop, by now, these fluffer features look like nothing more than desperate PR spin.
First lady Jill Biden is on the cover of the new issue of Harper's Bazaar https://t.co/Uwb4rCcCx7
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) May 31, 2022
“The nation was sick and divided. He wanted to heal it.” This is how Harper’s writer Mattie Kahn sets things up for Joe and Jill’s arrival at 1600 Penn. We once again get all the familial trauma in Joe’s past (something lain before us more than Bruce Wayne’s own losses) before setting the stage for the crises in place as he was sworn in. In an environment of a pandemic and division, Joe, we are told, was the right man to step in. “Biden had the kind of credentials no one envies; few in politics could claim more experience with sorrow.”
With that, we move on to Dr. First Lady St. Jill Biden and her duties. She still teaches twice a week in nearby Virginia, while also making frequent appearances and speeches. “Dr. Biden has maintained a schedule stacked like a Jenga tower.” The First Lady is far more visible and vocal than most other Presidential wives. What goes unspoken is why. Dr. Jill is clearly becoming a needed tonic to her husband’s belts slipping with frequency.
Jill is out there to buttress administration messaging in her husband’s stead, and her appearances alongside him at events are to be far more than arm candy. It has become a regular feature to see her moving in to guide her husband, pulling him this way to curtail his unregulated conversations or stepping up to suspend or correct a monologue that is starting to stray. She has grown well beyond the role of White House wife – she has become The Presidential Whisperer.
Then there is this desperate move to humanize the First Couple. They have their disagreements at times, we learn, but in order to avoid outward scrutiny, they turn to their phones. Whenever there is a disagreement the pair resorts to messaging each other instead. Get a load of this peek into their personal dynamic.
Which is not to say that she holds back when he frustrates her. The president does not get a pass. During the Obama years, they took to hashing out their occasional spats over text to avoid fighting in front of the Secret Service. (They christened it “fexting.”)
If anyone in D.C. is heard using this term following publication they have provided grounds for impeachment, regardless of their vaunted status, or lowly stature.
While it makes sense from the administration’s position to attempt to apply any type of shine to this fecal deposit on the South Lawn, the end result is still the same. Pick your metaphor – a flashy bow on a busted toy, glitter on a mudpie, lipstick on a pig – it is all still an attempt to dress up a failure of leadership.
This is a harsh reality on display for most to see, and as the administration unravels at a rapid pace, these glowing magazine features become less celebratory and more unseemly. With families facing soaring food costs and Joe’s recent promise to lower gas prices leading instead to the highest seen, it is in poor judgment to turn to fawning over Jill’s fashions.
When she boards the plane bound for Phoenix, waving to the press corps, she’s dressed in standard-issue FLOTUS-wear: cheerful purple Carolina Herrera dress, Valentino pumps. Plus a subtle twist: a thin gold anklet on her right ankle that glints in the sun.
I’m sure Ron Klain and company thought this would help, but instead what we see is nothing shy of being offensive. The end result becomes an assault on all five senses. They have shown they have a blindspot, delivering a tone-deaf feature that is in bad taste and carries a whiff of desperation while showing that they are completely out of touch.
Out-of-stock rates for baby formula spiked to 70% nationwide last week, but here's First Lady Jill Biden posing for Harper's Bazaar in $8,800 earrings. pic.twitter.com/aR5KFpQnru
— Spencer Brown (@itsSpencerBrown) May 31, 2022
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