But a new report from the New York Times which detailed how the First Lady was stepping in for her husband in key battleground races contained new information as to the depths she goes through to control not just Biden but also his infamous handlers, the ones who are charged with aggressively herding the press away from him, cleaning up his rhetorical messes, and who also work hard at limiting his public appearances so as to avoid any more embarrassing gaffes.
Lauren A. Wright, a professor at Princeton who has written extensively about political appearances by first ladies, said the East Wing under Dr. Biden, 71, who kept teaching as an English professor as first lady, has become completely intertwined with the political efforts of the West Wing.
“This role has become so serious and political,” she said. “It must be part of the strategic White House planning and effort. Otherwise you’re wasting opportunities.”
She is incredibly protective of Mr. Biden, and has been involved in the hiring of his press staff and other senior aides. (She vetted Jen Psaki, Mr. Biden’s first press secretary, alongside her husband.) She has been direct when she believes they have not protected him: After Mr. Biden delivered a nearly two-hour news conference in January, members of his senior staff were rehashing the appearance in the Treaty Room when the first lady appeared.
She pointedly asked the group, which included the president, why nobody stepped in to stop it, according to a person who was in the room. Where was the person, she demanded, who was supposed to end the news conference?
As the New York Post observed, that was the infamous presser where Joe Biden greatly alarmed Ukraine by appearing to greenlight a “minor incursion” into the country by Russia, the latter of which was already sending strong signals that they would do much more than that. His handlers had to step in on to rescue Joe on that statement, too.
In a normal situation, a woman stepping in to protect and defend her aging husband, to make sure he’s not taken advantage of or made to look bad is not a big deal. There are female caregivers all across America who do just that every day with their spouses, and that’s okay.
But this is not a normal situation we’re talking about there. Joe Biden is the President of the United States, a position in which projecting strength and demonstrating the ability to communicate coherently and make your own decisions is paramount to your success here at home and abroad as well as with your international foes, who though they may not respect whoever the president is at any given time do respect strength.
As former First Lady Hillary Clinton found out the hard way, it’s not spouses people are electing to represent them; it’s the candidates themselves. And while consulting with your spouse on a hiring decision for a non-policy role is one thing, having them routinely take the lead on such matters and also seeing them routinely maneuver around the president like a puppet on a string, having to constantly correct them while also berating overworked handlers behind the scenes is just not a good look. Like at all.
It’s no wonder there are reports swirling of “contingency plans” being put in place by Democrats ahead of 2024. Joe Biden is a man who is simply not in control much anymore in any meaningful way, not in what he says nor in the way he behaves around others, all of which again raises the question as to just who or what group of people are actually taking the lead in the absence of his failures to do so?
It’s the million dollar question — and one which the answer to may reside at the fingertips of Jill Biden herself.