Jill Biden is the most wonderful human being to ever walk the face of the earth. That is the conclusion of a glowing puff piece in the August issue of Vogue magazine on America’s first lady. Just when we thought that puff pieces couldn’t get any puffier than those written about Michelle Obama in the White House, Vogue magazine said “Hold my beer.”
Vogue, by the way, devoted three covers and featured interviews with Michelle Obama during her White House days. Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour justified such fawning attention paid to her was because Obama “redefined” the role of the first lady. “She was the best ambassador that this country could possibly have in many ways, obviously, way beyond fashion,” she said in 2019. Sure, ok. Hillary Clinton was the first first lady to be on the cover of Vogue. Of course, she was. That was in 1998. Hillary canceled a second cover photoshoot in 2007 out of concern that ‘she would appear too feminine.’ The magazine endorsed her anyway. First ladies prior to Hillary received coverage inside the magazine but not cover photographs. Laura Bush wasn’t featured on the cover. Neither was Melania Trump, an actual former model who has a designer wardrobe to die for.
There is one exception to the first-ladies-in-Vogue rule: Dr Biden’s predecessor. In her four years as first lady, Melania Trump never received an invitation to appear on the cover of Vogue – an invitation that apparently she coveted. In a recording of a July 2018 phone call obtained by NBC News in October last year, the First Lady could be heard expressing surprise that Wintour “gave” the September 2018 cover to Beyoncé, rather than to Trump.
“Anna [Wintour] gave the September issue of Vogue cover – complete, complete, complete, everything – to Beyoncé,” she allegedly said in former friend Stephanie Winston Wolkoff’s covert recording.
Trump then went on to predict that she would never receive a similar invitation. “They would never do it,” she said.
Of course Trump had her Vogue cover moment years before she moved into the White House – she appeared on the February 2005 cover in her wedding gown, a version of the finale look from John Galliano’s autumn-winter 2004 Christian Dior haute couture collection.
Kamala Harris received cover photo treatment in February. No one expects conservative women to be treated the same as liberal or progressive women but even for Vogue, the snub is blatant. No one said that life is fair, right? So, when Jill landed on the cover so early in the administration, I just kind of shrugged it off. It’s expected, especially after the fawning coverage she received during the campaign – she’s Dr. Jill, thank you very much. The article was a slog for anyone who isn’t a fan of the first lady. The writer of the piece is a contributing editor of Vogue and has interviewed both Joe and Jill Biden several times over their years in politics. Let’s just say the article reads like a fan letter more than an actual piece of professional journalism. Again, it’s to be expected these days but seriously, it’s bad.
Two things really jump out in the article. First is the fact that no one is even pretending that Jill isn’t Edith Wilson. Over and over her control of life in the White House is explained. One Washington Post reporter who has written a book about Melania Trump is quoted as saying Jill is “an underestimated asset” and “It’s hard to imagine Joe doing this without her.” No doubt that the reporter meant that as a compliment to Jill yet it can easily be read to confirm our suspicions – Joe Biden isn’t up to the task. He needs his number one handler to help him do the job. It’s like Hillary Clinton as co-president (Get two for the price of one.) in Bill’s administration. Most first ladies are not billed as co-presidents.
Joe Biden has brought a calmness to the White House, you see. People aren’t scared about the bad Orange Man anymore and they “can breathe again.”
One day, I asked Dr. Biden about the mood of the country. “During the campaign, I felt so much anxiety from people; they were scared,” she told me. “When I travel around the country now, I feel as though people can breathe again. I think that’s part of the reason Joe was elected. People wanted someone to come in and heal this nation, not just from the pandemic, which I feel Joe did by, you know, getting shots in everybody’s arms. But also…he’s just a calmer president. He lowers the temperature.”
The writer goes on to say that the Bidens have “read the room” and Jill is in charge of making things happen. She’s selling a vision. And she’s doing it while keeping her day job as a professor at a community college. Wait, what? Who elected her?
We have been through this enormous, collective trauma, and here’s a calm, experienced, empathetic president, and here’s a first lady who is driven, tireless, effortlessly popular, but also someone who reminds us of ourselves. She’s selling a new vision for how our most fundamental institutions ought to work—infrastructure, education, public health—even as she goes to extraordinary lengths to keep a real-world job, to stay in touch with what makes her human and what matters most.
There is an interesting reference to Melania’s make-over of the Rose Garden and the writer acknowledges that he likes what she did. Jill Biden, the spouse of the Unifier-in-Chief only referenced that Melania put in some sidewalks.
Biden’s work to promote COVID-19 vaccinations was noted. She’s been traveling with Kamala’s husband and yesterday, for example, they were in Dallas and then Houston. The Houston Astros hosted a vaccination clinic and they stopped by to get the photo op.
She wants her platform expanded, according to the article. Her aggressive need for power is apparent, though that is not what the writer intended to say. He paints her as a superwoman, the more tasks the better. She is a “fierce warrior.” She wants to make the White House feel like their million-dollar beach house, for people to be comfortable. Yes, really. Sounds like white privilege there, doesn’t it? She doesn’t “act her age” according to the WaPo reporter. She brings joy everywhere. Her laugh precedes her into rooms. And, in case you didn’t realize it, she is a very stylish person. Those stockings that looked like hook wear? She begs to differ – “And they weren’t fishnets. They weren’t lace. They were very pretty stockings.” Sure, but not for a 70-year-old woman in a short skirt and booties. We know she doesn’t act her age.
When she doesn’t want to answer a question, she smiles and says, “Let’s move on.” And the reporters do as they are told. This brings me to a second point that inadvertently was made by the writer. He speaks about Jill’s attempts to make the traveling press her friends. During a motorcade, a photographer is quoted as saying, “At least they’re waving at us now and not giving us the finger.” She goes to the back of the plane when she travels with or without the president and ‘gaggles’ with the press, says the article. “I’m trying to get to know them,” she told me later. “Because I don’t think it should be, you know, me versus the press.” We know, Jill. They don’t think they are your adversaries, either.
Watch your backs, Joe and Kamala. Edith’s in the house.
— Kate Hyde (@KateHydeNY) June 29, 2021