Opinion Dr. Jill Biden has 'a podium if she cares to use it'
Biden's 1st 100 days: Promises kept, broken, or in progress
Here's a look at how President Joe Biden is measuring up against the markers he set for himself. As a candidate and incoming president, he had promised a series of swift and sweeping actions to address the range of challenges he inherited.
The sweep of history has not always been kind to First Ladies. Often ignored, dismissed and underestimated by the public in their own time and given short shrift by presidential historians in the review of past presidencies, their collective impact on our nation has never been fully appreciated. Now, as Dr. Jill Biden establishes her role as First Lady in these first 100 days of her husband’s administration, we’d do well to take her contributions seriously from the start.
Two new acclaimed biographies — historian Julia Sweig’s “Lady Bird Johnson: Hiding in Plain Sight,” and Karen Tumulty’s “The Triumph of Nancy Reagan” — are filling in overlooked history and giving these two indominable women long overdue credit for their substance and significance. Both books compel us to acknowledge how often women are written out of the picture, devaluing their impact on their husbands’ legacy and on the country.
President Biden's first 100 days: What he's gotten done
President Joe Biden has moved fast since his January 20 swearing-in, signing a $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill into law less than two months into his term and issuing more executive orders so far than his three predecessors. © Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images A first-grader works on an English exercise on the first day of class in Los Angeles on April 13, 2021. Those efforts have paid off, with the administration reaching the milestones of 200 million coronavirus shots delivered and vaccine eligibility opened to everyone 16 and over before Biden's 100th day in office.
Lady Bird Johnson, wife of President Lyndon Baines Johnson whose transformative Great Society brought sweeping extensive social change, recognized she had power. “[The job of first lady] assigns her no duties,” she said as a reminder to all who would go after her, “and yet when she gets the job, a podium is there if she cares to use it. I did.”
No one had to tell Nancy Reagan. A dozen years after Mrs. Johnson left the East Wing, she realized her own influence as her husband’s chief advocate and protector, encouraging him to forge a seminal relationship with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and hold his staff accountable for their mistakes. These contributions helped LBJ and Reagan expand the potential of their presidencies, which are widely considered to be among the most consequential in modern American history.
How Joe Biden's speech to Congress differs from past presidential addresses
Things will look a lot different during the annual presidential address, from COVID-19 guidelines to history being made behind the podium.The address, which technically is not called the State of the Union, will be the first time a U.S. president speaks to both houses of Congress since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, as former President Donald Trump delivered his last State of the Union on Feb. 4, 2020.
By all indications, Joe Biden is angling for a presidency just as singular. And Dr. Jill Biden, in turn, has a chance to make her own outsized mark along with him. She starts by becoming the first First Lady to hold on to her day job — just as she did as Second Lady — continuing to teach English at Northern Virginia Community College.
The woman who students refer to as “Dr. B.” is determined to keep her career, making a powerful statement about gender equity even as she assumes the amorphous supporting role of First Lady. This despite public criticism and a misguided attempt to diminish her by essayist Joseph Epstein who, after referring to her as “kiddo,” encouraged her in Wall Street Journal op-ed piece to drop her use of the title Dr. because it felt “a touch fraudulent, not to mention comical.” Appropriately, his sexist take down was (appropriately)widely lambasted.
Why President Joe Biden's speech to Congress was unlike any other in modern history
A joint sessions speech, known for its glad-handing cadence, was bound to be subdued with only 200 folks permitted at an event that can hold 1,500.President Joe Biden's address to a joint session of Congress was unlike any in modern history due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With no more than 200 folks permitted for an event that can hold up to 1,500, an event known for its glad-handing cadence and rousing moments was destined to be subdued.
Importantly, in addition to her commitment to teaching, she has also stepped up to help promote the president’s progressive domestic agenda, which, if successful, is bound to be a hallmark of his administration just as the Great Society was to LBJ. Last month, she channeled Lady Bird Johnson, traveling to Alabama to visit centers that offer Head Start programs to promote President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package. It was Mrs. Johnson who helped to launch Head Start during her own husband’s administration and traveled over 1,300 miles by rail at his behest to alienated Southern states, including Alabama, after he signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964.
Joe Biden clearly realizes how much of a political asset he has in his own First Lady. Though Alabama went decisively in the Trump column with 62% of the vote in last year’s election, Dr. Biden was dispatched there to rally support for his stimulus bill and make good on his promise to unite a fractured nation by reaching out to even the most scarlet of red states. It was a smart move. As First Lady, she carries his last name and imprimatur without his political baggage. But while her she may be a softer presence, her impact is no less effective. “I know that you would do anything for your children,” she appealed to Alabamans as a mother as well as a presidential surrogate. “Every parent does.” Her advocacy has helped to depoliticize the bill, which is popular even among Republicans.
Fact check: Biden's speech had an estimated 26.9 million viewers
The president’s first address to Congress had 26.9 million viewers, not 11.6 million as claimed in a social media post.An April 29 Facebook post from James T. Harris, a conservative radio host and social media personality, lists television ratings for five past presidential addresses — four from former President Donald Trump and one from Biden. The post says Biden’s address to Congress had only 11.6 million viewers, compared to 37.2 million viewers for Trump’s 2020 State of the Union speech.
Finally, like so many First Ladies before her, Dr. Biden wields power as the president’s closest political advisor. She has been a political spouse through almost the entirety of their 42-year marriage and clearly understands the political world. More than anyone else throughout his career, she has his ear and his trust. As he wages an agenda as far-reaching as those of his most towering predecessors — including LBJ and Reagan — that may well be her most vital contribution.
“A woman is like a teabag,” Nancy Reagan once said, “only in hot water do you realize how strong she is.” It’s time that we consider the full strength, power, purpose and promise of our First Ladies in their own time — whether they’re in hot water or not.
Lauren Leader is co-founder and CEO of All In Together, a non-partisan, nonprofit women’s civic education organization. She is the author of “” and tweets Mark K. Updegrove is president and CEO of the LBJ Foundation. He is the presidential historian for ABC News and author of “ : Inside the Extraordinary Relationship Between George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush” and “ : LBJ in the Presidency.” He is host of the podcast “With the Bark Off” and tweets
Vaccinated Joe Biden still wears mask outside 'out of habit'
President Biden is still keeping his face mask on and not following advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ditch his mask while outdoors.Questioned about Biden's practice, senior adviser Anita Dunn told CNN's State of the Union that she realized that she was also still wearing her mask outdoors even after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fully vaccinated people like her and Biden can stop wearing masks outside when they're alone or not among strangers.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
See the Modern Family Cast Then & Now .
See how the stars of the beloved sitcom have changed over the past 12 years in honor of E!'s Mother's Day Modern Family marathon today.E! is celebrating Mother's Day 2021 with an all-day marathon of the beloved TV comedy starting at 8 a.m. today, Sunday, May 9.