Joe and Jill Biden work together to get America back on track
Amajority of voters cast their ballots for President Joe Biden in November, but they got a bonus in the process in his wife, Jill. She already has embarked as a full partner in selling them on his American Rescue Plan to lift the country out of the economic lockdown imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.
As a veteran working community college teacher, Jill Biden is taking her experience and skills to classrooms across the land to explain and defend her husband’s outsized $1.9 trillion stimulus package, putting $1,400 checks into voters’ pockets to meet daily needs and child-care tax credits at the heart of his economic recovery agenda.
When he was vice president in Barack Obama’s administration, Jill continued to teach English at the Northern Virginia Community College. She is currently picking up from there on an itinerary that took her last week to a fifth-grade classroom on writing at Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, N.H., where a recently reopened program was under way.
“We are gong to safely reopen our schools,” she told a small socially distanced gathering in the school cafeteria. “We are going to get people back to work. We are to lift up the families that are struggling just to get by And we are going to be stronger than ever, because that is that the American Rescue Plan is all about; help today so we can build back better tomorrow.”
Jill Biden decided early after her marriage to Joe Biden, five years after the death of his first wife and an infant daughter and the hospitalization of their two young sons, to continue her teaching while also parenting the two boys. Joe maintained an almost daily train commute between Wilmington, Del., and the Senate in Washington to be with the recuperating boys.
During his vice presidency, Jill was under the constant protection and eyes of the Secret Service at the school who tried their best to be inconspicuous. When a curious student would inquire whether she was related to the increasingly prominent politician, she would reply vaguely that he was a relative.
In the final stage of the 2020 campaign, Jill took to an empty Delaware classroom on one occasion, to tout her husband for the presidency before television cameras, indicating that if he was elected she intended to remain an active teacher.
Jill Biden also continued to follow an initiative of her husband in lending a hand to individuals met along the way who shared a common personal family loss. As Joe often gave grieving strangers his phone number if they felt the need of an understanding listener, Jill would sometimes do the same.
Once, when my own son was struggling through Montgomery County Community College and I mentioned him to her, she asked me for his phone number. To our surprise, she called and gave him a pep talk to persevere, which he did, to a positive outcome. That was the Biden way, to both Joe and Jill.
Now that Joe Biden is the president of the United States, he and Jill appear to beginning to acquire an aura of legitimacy as the First Couple, by adhering to a certain ordinary demeanor not generally associated with the office.
Of presidents of memory, only the late Harry S. Truman, elevated by the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945, managed to win the hearts of millions of his countrymen, simply by being good old Harry. Will good old Joe, with unassuming Jill at his side, enjoy the same fortuitous outcome?
Jules Witcover is a nationally syndicated columnist.