Incoming first lady Jill Biden has a doctorate in education and, like many with that academic achievement, she uses the title “Dr.” before her name. Now comes Joseph Epstein, writing in The Wall Street Journal that she should drop the title because it “sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic.” (Worth noting that Epstein addresses Biden as “kiddo,” which sounds and feels belittling, not to say a touch sexist). Epstein, who has a bachelor’s degree and an honorary doctorate, goes on to write, in a sentence dripping with derision, that Biden obtained her degree from the University of Delaware “through a dissertation with the unpromising title ‘Student Retention at the Community College Level: Meeting Students’ Needs.’” He also seemed put out that she didn’t have to pass an exam in Greek or Latin, and that she got her doctorate when she was—gasp!—in her 50s.
The column left Epstein trending on Twitter, and not in a good way. “The author could’ve used fewer words to just say ‘ya know in my day we didn’t have to respect women,’” Chasten Buttigieg tweeted. Others said they were canceling their WSJ subscriptions. Some wondered about the size of Epstein’s genitals. (For the record, The Daily Beast, like many publications, doesn’t use academic titles in stories. We also wonder why Epstein, if he feels so strongly about this issue, didn’t write his column about, say, “Dr.” Sebastian Gorka).