Is ‘Lady MacBiden’ still refusing to persuade Joe to stand down because she loves being First Lady too much?

Tom Leonard
Daily Mail
Is Jill Biden refusing to persuade husband Joe to stand down because she loves being First Lady too much?
Is Jill Biden refusing to persuade husband Joe to stand down because she loves being First Lady too much? Credit: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Jill Biden was “fuming by the pool”.

It was 2003, and inside the family home in Delaware, senior Democrats were trying to persuade her husband Joe to run for president.

Joe knew she didn’t want him to do it. She decided to force the issue.

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Scrawling “NO” in large letters on her stomach with a black marker pen, the former part-time model marched into the room where they were meeting in her bikini.

Mr Biden got the message — he didn’t run that year, although Jill changed her mind over time, with her husband finally winning the presidency in 2020 after ousting Donald Trump.

But amid escalating concern over the President’s mental competence, and his declaration that he was “‘firmly committed” to running for re-election, how dearly Democrats would love the First Lady to write that same instruction on her midriff again — if that’s what it takes to persuade Joe Biden to bow out.

Insiders say she remains the only person who can really influence the floundering octogenarian as Democrats try to avert defeat in November and their Doomsday scenario of Donald Trump back in the White House.

Fate has given Mrs Biden the power to shape history. May she use it wisely.

The 73-year-old First Lady, with her passion for teaching English to immigrants and posting unfussy recipes online — such as her chicken parmesan — was once seen as a huge asset to the Democrats.

Now she is widely regarded as a dead weight dragging down their chances of beating Trump.

For it appears that the vanity and arrogance of Joe Biden in refusing to face facts about his mental frailty is shared — perhaps even exceeded — by his second wife, whom a conservative website, in a nod to Shakespeare’s scheming villainess, has dubbed “Lady MacBiden”.

Jill Biden with her passion for teaching English to immigrants was once seen as a huge asset to the Democrats. 
Jill Biden with her passion for teaching English to immigrants was once seen as a huge asset to the Democrats.  Credit: Carlos Osorio/AP

As Democrats repeatedly call on the First Lady to shake some sense into the decrepit commander-inchief (though not too vigorously, of course), Washington insiders say that’s hardly likely to happen, because she’s the very person encouraging him to keep going.

NBC News reported several days ago that she and her disgraced stepson Hunter — awaiting sentencing in October for his conviction for buying a gun while being a drug user — have been urging the President to sack staff who haven’t been sufficiently upbeat about his election prospects.

Meanwhile, the sense of unity between husband and wife was impossible to miss in Lady Mac-B’s comments to American Vogue in the wake of the catastrophic televised debate with Donald Trump: “We will continue to fight”, she told the magazine.

Dr Biden — a title on which she insists, despite holding a doctorate in education rather than being a physician — features on the cover of the August issue sporting a AUD$7400 Ralph Lauren tuxedo dress and similarly priced earrings.

The cover bore the imperious headline “We will decide our future”.

In Dr Biden’s defence, she was talking about women, not her husband’s campaign, but the timing of the fawning profile, which went to press in the weeks before the debate, could have not been more inopportune.

Nowadays, the First Lady seems far removed from the woman Michelle Obama once hailed as down-to-earth and “without an ounce of pretence’.

But despite her presidential posturing, Dr Biden hasn’t left her classroom manner entirely behind.

Leading her star pupil carefully off stage from the debate 12 days ago, she gave him a pep talk in full kindergarten mode.

“Joe, you did such a great job!” she enthused in front of the cameras.

“You answered every question, you knew all the facts!”

It was excruciatingly plain to viewers that he had not, but Jill continues blithely to deny the obvious.

“Joe isn’t just the right person for the job. He’s the only person for the job,” she told a fundraising event in New York the following day.

Jill Biden, right, stands with President Joe Biden at the conclusion of the presidential debate.
Jill Biden, right, stands with President Joe Biden at the conclusion of the presidential debate. Credit: Gerald Herbert/AP

Her husband continues to tie himself in knots, however.

Though he was provided with the questions in advance of a radio interview on Thursday, the leader of the free world managed to make the bizarre boast that he was the “first black woman to serve with a black president”.

The revelation on Sunday that his staffers provide him with photos and instructions in large print on how to enter and exit events — with one such instruction being “Walk to podium” — will do little to quell concerns that the President must be spoon-fed even the most basic information.

So is Jill Biden simply playing the loyal wife, cheering on her husband’s decisions; or is she truly in charge?

Joe often speaks after Jill at rallies and opens with: “My name is Joe and I’m Jill’s husband”.

Some believe it’s not entirely spoken in jest.

Is Jill Biden actually in charge?
Is Jill Biden actually in charge? Credit: AAP

Most First Ladies accept they are an unelected accessory to their spouse, but Dr Biden takes herself very seriously.

In 2021, for example, she posted a photo of herself going through briefing manuals at the President’s desk on Air Force One.

The caption read: “Prepping for the G7”.

Certainly, she knows her own mind, as her stunt with the marker pen in 2003 makes clear.

Yet the comparisons now being made with Nancy Reagan — whose domineering presence made her the power behind the throne of husband Ronald in the 1980s — hardly seemed likely when the Bidens entered the White House in 2021.

Following the seedy talk of serial infidelity and cynical pre-nup agreements that surrounded the marriage of previous incumbents Donald and Melania, the relationship between Jill and Joe seemed refreshingly sweet and non-transactional.

They appeared genuinely devoted to one another.

It is a second marriage for both.

Born Jill Jacobs in 1951, the eldest of five daughters of a bank cashier, she grew up in New Jersey and Pennsylvania before getting married at just 18 to Bill Stevenson, a former college football player whom she met the summer before graduating from high school.

By late 1974 the romance had fizzled out and Bill and Jill divorced the following spring.

That same year she met Biden, who by chance, as he tells the story, had seen her posing as a model in an advert.

His brother Frank had been a friend of Jill at the University of Delaware and gave him her phone number.

“You’ll like her, Joe,’ Frank reportedly told his brother. “She’s not interested in politics.’

The Bidens on the campaign trail.
The Bidens on the campaign trail. Credit: Evan Vucci/AP

Joe’s first wife, Neilia Hunter, had died along with their infant daughter three years earlier in a car crash, just a few weeks after he had won a triumphant underdog campaign to become a senator for Delaware.

Jill recalled sitting in her car after taking her final exams and hearing news of the tragic accident on the radio.

From their first meeting, Joe was instantly smitten, later saying: “She gave me back my life. She made me feel normal again.”

Jill had initially thought Joe, nine years her senior, was too old for her, and when he arrived for their first date wearing a suit and polished shoes, she admitted her first reaction was to think: “Thank God this is only one date.”

However, the two hit it off and she was pleasantly surprised by his propriety when he brought her home and said goodnight by shaking her hand.

“During the 1970s, usually the guy was groping you at the door. I was so taken aback I ran upstairs and I called my mother — it was one in the morning — and said: ‘Mom, I have finally found a gentleman’,” she recalled.

Biden said he had to ask her five times before she agreed to marry him, eventually promising not to stand for re-election to the Senate if she said “yes”.

He went so far as to phone a reporter to announce his intention but Jill cut off the call with her thumb, saying — according to the official Biden family account — that she couldn’t come between him and his dreams.

“Most of all I fell in love with the boys,” Dr Biden has gushed of Joe’s two young sons — the late Beau and Hunter — who had survived the crash that claimed the lives of their mother and sister.

Hunter, who has struggled for years with crack cocaine addiction, has been less complimentary.

In a text to his uncle in 2018, Hunter reportedly called his stepmother a “vindictive moron”, and in messages to his brother’s widow, with whom he was in a relationship at the time, referred to Dr Biden as a “selfish silly entitled c***” and said that she should “go f***’ herself”, after she urged him to go to rehab.

He further boasted to his uncle that he was more intelligent than her: “The drunkest I’ve ever been is still smarter than you could ever even comprehend and you’re a shut [sic] grammar teacher.”

Joe and Jill had daughter Ashley together in 1981, four years after they were married.

Some of the details of their domestic life are almost toe-curlingly saccharine — she says she used to play their favourite song, Have I Told You Lately (That I Love You) when he came home from the Senate.

But for all her reputation now as a kingmaker, in the early decades of their marriage Jill was a reluctant political wife who made it clear that nothing would stop her teaching.

“Being a teacher is not what I do but who I am,” she has said.

She has described marking school work while travelling on Air Force Two when Joe was Vice President, and once “scrambling into a cocktail dress and heels” in a school lavatory to make it to a White House reception.

The first First Lady to have a paid job outside the White House, she still teaches at the modest North Virginia Community College, which has campuses in the suburbs of Washington DC.

Some of its students (of whom many are recently arrived immigrants) admitted this month that they didn’t even know the woman they know as ‘Dr B’ is married to the US President.

White House insiders say Dr Biden, who before she became First Lady ran five miles a day, five days a week, can be fiercely protective of her husband and bristles at any suggestion his faculties are in decline.

White House insiders say Dr Biden can be fiercely protective of her husband.
White House insiders say Dr Biden can be fiercely protective of her husband. Credit: ERIK S. LESSER/EPA

At a Biden rally in 2020, when two militant vegans jumped onto the stage clutching “Let Dairy Die” placards, she instantly inserted herself between them and her husband.

Months later, she published a children’s book, Joey: The Story Of Joe Biden, that portrayed the presidential candidate courageously overcoming a childhood stutter for which he was bullied.

When, in the previous year, at least seven women accused her husband of physically touching them in a way that made them feel uncomfortable, Jill leapt to his defence, making him sound almost Christ-like: “What you don’t realise is how many people approach Joe. Men and women, looking for comfort or empathy.”

She’s also had considerable experience clearing up his verbal messes, although, given his own self-description as a “gaffe machine’, it didn’t previously arouse anything like the alarm it does now.

When Joe began talking about stopping “four more years of George” (Bush) in an interview just days before the 2020 election, Dr Biden’s lips were seen moving twice as she appeared to prompt him with the word “Trump”.

In speeches, she still urges Americans to try to see the noble soul she married and ignore the gaffes or the critical headlines.

“I want you to hear Joe’s words. But most of all I want you to listen to his heart,” she has said.

Insiders have said she encouraged him to seek re-election, having warmed to White House life and — unlike Melania Trump — enjoyed her role as First Lady.

She has been a constant presence in campaign meetings.

“She is usually in the room when senior campaign staff are presenting strategy to her husband. She will ask questions. But she never weighs in on the decision,” a former Biden aide told Politico website last year.

The adviser added: “She is always his final ‘gut check’.”

But sources say he sometimes seems too reliant on her, always asking for her opinion in meetings, where she’ll sit taking notes.

Biden aides have called her “the closer’ — a confidante on whose unvarnished advice he’ll rely before he makes a final decision.

The stakes couldn’t be higher now.

Jill Biden should ask herself whether her “admirable loyalty’ to her husband will serve the best interests of her country, writes prominent US political commentator William Galston, adding: “Fate has given Mrs Biden the power to shape history. May she use it wisely.”

The President could sorely do with some unvarnished advice from the First Lady now.

And if she wants so desperately to retain the trappings of power, the increasingly presidential Dr Biden could always follow in the footsteps of Hillary Clinton and make her own run for the White House.

At just 73, compared to the two current candidates, she’d be a spring chicken.

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