Jill Biden’s “problem” doctorate

Damn, I really want to like Joe Biden. And there are things to like a lot, like his writing of the Violence Against Women Act. Why does he have to keep saying stupid things? Why oh why? First there was that fabulous remark that Obama was the first “clean” and “articulate” African-American candidate. Now he says his wife is drop-dead gorgeous. And has a doctorate, which is a problem. I KNOW it’s meant to be a joke. And maybe it’s necessary to make such jokes in order to make voters comfortable with a woman with a doctorate. (But I doubt it, since Dr Rice should have them used to it by now.) But… Sigh. Why does he keep doing this shit? Legislative actions are indeed more important than utterances like these, but these do matter, and I don’t like them.

19 thoughts on “Jill Biden’s “problem” doctorate

  1. Unfortunately, we all meet people who do think it is a problem that we have a doctorate!
    How stupid!

  2. Forewarned is forearmed: Biden does have problems on women’s issues. See:

    Among other things, he left Anita HIll hang out to dry. I remember vividly the utter disappointment of hearing his questioning; he was chair of the senate committee, for goodness sake’s.

    What could be worse? MUCH could be worse. And John McCain is MUCH, MUCH worse.

    Judging by what I could bear to listen to on the radio during an hour’s drive, the Republican’s are working to get the support of “the Clinton women.” So I expect we’ll get snide remarks about Biden during the campaign.

  3. Oh, great, Obama makes overtures toward religious fundamentalists and Biden turns out to be a sexist despite his writing of the VAWA… Why do we always get to vote for the lesser evil rather than a good candidate?!? I don’t want McSame to become President, so I’ll clench my teeth and vote for Obama & Biden but, oh, will I have indigestion doing that…

  4. I myself have been deciding whether to vote or not, I hate the thought of putting out yet more time and money and gas to vote against someone. This time I find there are only options to vote against. Obama has alot more against him than just being religious and choosing a misogynist (but what else could a religious man choose? I mean most of them are patriarchal women hating man elevating religions). McCain willingly participated in a genocidal war (according to the tribunal began by Bertrand Russell, not that he said anything about McCain, it was the war he participated in).
    I think there needs to be a decent option forced into the race. Many working class and poor people (and people who used to be poor) won’t vote for Obama because of his bias toward the middle class (see almost any of his commercials). He is straight up saying, no I will do nothing for anyhone who needs anything, typically liberal, put yourself out as long as it benefits the overindulged.
    What would happen if everyone who cannot for either in good conscience decided on someone to write in and everyone wrote in the same person? Most likely nothing but I would feel better about voting if I did that.
    I feel like Nelson Algren watching the Kennedy/Nixon race, there is no good person to vote for so all you can do is be happy about the one who loses. Still, that seems so dangerous, not that popular vote counts for anything anyway since it is not actually in a democracy.
    Voting for something bad is still voting for something bad even if the other option is worse, personally I see equal danger (war criminal vs. mr status quo himself) so I can;t even vote out of spite, like voting against someone, i want to vote against both.
    Everyone is looking at Biden but really, what is wrong with his wife for staying with him while he is saying those kinds of things? I hate to say it but many times it is the women who are tolerating and with their silence being complicit in what is said about them. MY mother would have knocked him, as she always liked to say, from hell to breakfast, and she definitely was one to teach a man to only speak when spoken to.

  5. You can choose between a vice president who joking referred to his wife’s doctorate as a problem (but is married to a woman with a doctorate) or a president who refers to his wife as a cunt.

    This election has one of the starkest set of choices that we have ever faced. It is a life and death contest, for people and for the planet.

    Anyone who doesn’t get out to vote because there is not enough ideological variation out there to please them is taking personal responsibility for one hell of alot of death. Poverty is one of the great shames that this nation faces. Stop whining about Obama not being good enough for you and get out and do some work feeding the poor.

  6. If you decide not to vote this election and the country gets stuck with McCain, you’re not even allowed to open your mouth and bitch because you took no steps to do otherwise or to create change.

    We’ll never have the perfect candidate. We’ve got to learn to live with it. The Obama-Biden ticket is as close as I feel we will get.

    And sure, Biden makes stupid, tasteless remarks, but he DID write VAWA. And his wife is educated. Which is a far cry from some of the other presidents wives.

  7. As is the norm with ordinary language, the literal words underdetermine their meaning. There seem to be two basic interpretations of what Biden said here:

    (1) ‘Isn’t it silly that women like my wife have advanced educations! And it’s a real problem for their husbands.’

    (2) ‘My spouse is smarter than I am and that shames me!’

    Of course, it’s unlikely that Biden believes either of these things, as this remark was clearly intended as a joke. The question, however, is which joke was he trying to make?

    I don’t see any reason to assume he intended (1) rather than (2). Notice that there’s nothing sexist in (2): anyone of any gender might say it regarding any spouse of any gender. Barring evidence in favor of the first interpretation, I’m content to say that he chose an unfortunately ambiguous means of expression, but is otherwise blameless.

  8. I’m deeply in agreement with all of you saying that we must work, and work hard for Obama and Biden. But I also think I need to reiterate our BE NICE rule when it comes to discussions with those who disagree. And particular the bit about not assuming the worst of people. You may not agree with ILF, but you’ve got no reason to assume that she’s not out there trying to do something about poverty– indeed, I rather suspect that she is. She just disagrees with you about the best way to do that.

  9. I think we have to take this seriously. Yes, I’ll vote for Obama, but must we just march in line and not object to this statement just because it might give energy to the McCain campaign.
    I see RAR’s point, but combined with the first half – I vote for interpertation 1. You have already drawn attention to your partner’s physical appearance – highlighting that as her key characteristic. Her intellectual accomplishments come second – and maybe he intended to make the point that she is smarter than him (is this something we want to know about our leaders – hasn’t the country been run by anti-intellectuals for eight years now). Then come out with a clarification – or even an apology – we all “mis-speak”
    I’d like to see Biden retract this or clarify his respect for his wife, scholarship and intellectual women.

  10. Obama is just as dangerous to the poor as McCain is. It is idedological, he is a liberal capitalist, and so, when in power he will be just as dangerous and contribute to just as many deaths by poverty as any other candidate, watch his ads and listen to him (at least the ads they are showing in northeast ohio, they may be different elsewhere as ads are chosen by dedmographics). All he talks about is “helping” the middle class (i.e. those who already have more than they need). His health care plan is much too expensive for those who cannot pay rent and utilties as it is. He leaves out everyone who needs anything and will, again, be just as dangerous as McCain. He has, time and again, shown his liberalism when speaking of the poeple whose poverty he actively an intentionally causes (by his overspending, check those clothes his kids wear, as well as his own, and by his money hoarding i.e. money in the bank, in stocks ect.).
    Just so you know I do feed and heat and give electricity and water (you know those luxuries usu reserved only for the middle class) to the poor. I lived in ghettos and projects until my senior year in college (i graduated at 35 so that was a very long time), it follows that everyone i love is still there and the middle class is still refusin g to pay living wages. I pay gthe utilities of my elderly aunt and of my cousin with MS who is too sick to work and whose wife got laid off a week after their 17 year old son was murdered walking home from work, in hisown neighborhood. I also buy their groceries, if i cannot get back there i load Giant Eagle and Super Kmart cards for them online. There is nothing more left over to give after i pay my bills, i dont hoard even a dollar, this can be attested to by my checking account which got overdrawn paying for a prescription for my cousin. Obabma is just as much to bitch as about as McCain, 1 gives to the v ery rich, the other to the middle class, either way it is still more money for the overindulged and nothing at all for those who are forced to live in the hell they call capitalism. Ideology kills, people act by those ideas.
    What I would like to see is for Bidens wife to grow both a backbone and a mouth, she is entrenching misogyny by staying with him (therefore endorsing his words) just as much as he is by speaking them, no self respecting woman would allow that type pf treatment, particularly if she is “educated”.
    When Obama and Clinton were in Youngstown my best frfiends husband asked why he should do thema favor of walking through a very dxangerous neighborhood to vote forf them, who need nothing and have too much, he said that he would vote for whichever candidate would “lower” themsleves to some into the projects they live in and share a meal, a scant meal, but provided by someone who, on average, eats 4 out of 7 days a week to make sure his kids get at least 1 meal a day each. Needless to say he was ignored because neither of them cared, they want votes and more and more and more money but are not willing to endure, even for an hour, the hell their money hoarding imposes on so many others.

  11. Dear ilovefanon,

    I am sorry for not being nice in reply to your post. I made some false assumptions about you from what you wrote, and then argued against those assumptions. Actually, it appears that you and I have very much in common in our histories and our day to day lives.

    I just don’t buy the argument that Obama will be as bad on poverty as McCain. Or, which goes beyond what you say, that there will be the same number of military and civilian casualties or that the response to global warming will be the same, or that the same number of women will die from illegal and unsafe abortions.

    Of course Obama is a liberal capitalist. In this country is it possible for there to be a president of any other stripe? I don’t like it either, but right now I can’t see anyone with a more progressive position being a real candidate for election. Although for a refreshing alternative read what Howard Zinn has to say here http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080407/zinn.

    My reply to you was based on a frustration that has grown to fury with the self righteous impotence that I face when I talk to so many feminists in the academy. I realize that there must be room to protest beyond the current narrow political spectrum. I come from a country where the spectrum is much broader, but where radical progressives are still silenced. But I seethe when I hear academics complain about poverty without one iota of sensitivity to the economic privilege that most of us have even as underpaid philosophers. There is work to be done besides writing and thinking. It is work that we can all do right now and that doesn’t require a PhD. Complaints about poverty, without work to feed hungry people in our own communities… Well, is it worse to see the problem, complain about it while sipping a $4 coffee and then go back to work, or not to see at all?

  12. cj
    What is worse is to support a liberal capitalist who is necessarily, intentionally (re)constructing poverty on a daily basis. Going back to Sarah Hoagland’s relationality there cannot be need without there also being overindulgence. This means that if one entrenches need (i.e. being a liberal capitalist) one is actively, intentionally creating the need, basically unless there is a middle class or an “upper” class there cannot be poverty.
    Where might one find underpaid philosophers? I know many and not one of them (including myself as a grad student) is under the poverty level. Underpaid would be when one is working 5 12 hour shifts in a factory where it is hot, dangerous, repetiive, hard actual work and one leaves without having made enough in 1 month to pay the rent, utilities, buy food, transportation, and, the fairytale god forbid, have health care or a safe place to live.
    Obama continuously rants and raves about giving more and more middle class handouts, as if they aren’t handed more than they need on a silver platter to begin with. Unless I have missed something (and that is very possible as I find Obama as stroke inducing as Rawls, at times there just are not enough Valiums to listen to his drivel) he has not said 1 word about helping those who are in NEED or of handing out free money to those in NEED, while, at the same time, bombarding us with ads about handing out money to the overindulged. I cannot support middle class welfare any more than I can support corporate welfare, in fact, since the herd mentality of the middle class is what allows the rich to carry out their agenda, i have a harder time supporting handing them more.
    When I think or speak about poverty and harm I am not meaning people as a mass, I mean individual, concrete, suffering people. Global warming has no harm for them, the threat to my people is the intentional genocide of the liberal capitalists. I cannot be a party to genocide, and if genocide is “progressive” then wow, this country is sicker and more demented than even I had ever dreamed of. I never thought I could be more ashamed of it than I have been thus far, again, I gave the liberals too much credit.

  13. ilovefanon,

    1. I still don’t understand what you mean by `(re)constructing poverty on a daily basis’. Nor have you explained who you have in mind when you target the `middle class’. Without filling out these details, I can’t follow what you’re trying to say.

    2. I agree that Rawls is incredibly boring (if that’s what you meant by stroke-inducing). But you’ve completely missed the second part of the difference principle — inequalities are only justified if they are to the benefit of the least advantaged. That means the single mother working 5-12 hour shifts in a sweatshop without enough income to pay the rent, utilities, buy food, transportation, and health care. It’s fine if you don’t find Rawls sufficient radical, especially when it comes to international justice or the way he prioritizes individual freedoms over economic justice, but don’t claim that he doesn’t have anything to say about poverty simply because you don’t want to read him.

    3. If you’ve similarly missed Obama talking about poverty because you find him boring and don’t listen to him, that’s a failure to communicate on your part, not his. Go read or listen to his acceptance speech — I wouldn’t call poverty one of the main themes of the speech, but it definitely showed up. Unless you’re actually listening to the people you criticize, your criticisms are ill-founded at best and completely off-target at worse.

  14. Her point is not that Obama is boring and she obviously knows what he is saying. She is saying that he is enmeshed in a liberal ideology, which requires inequality in order to function, that this inequality is invisible in what makes it into the public debate and that it causes immense suffering in many actual people’s lives.

    The second part of the difference principle is not good enough because of the magnitude of the differences that we are talking about, and the huge impact that a redistribution of wealth could have for so many poor. Rawls doesn’t help us here.

    I think that most of her criticisms are well founded, my question is OK, so what should I actually do now? There is a long list of important issues that we need to deal with and even though Obama’s ideology will not give us a revolution, his election will result in less death and suffering than McCain’s.

  15. Noumena
    By middle class and/or overindulged I mean those with luxuries like heat, housing, housing that is not substandard, food, water, electricity, the ability to go outside and be safe without carrying a weapon, the ability to choose what to eat and when to eat it, having a place to live where the government does not charge in like a herd of oxen every 6 months to “inspect”, having housing that is not overrun by cockroaches, having education, being able to give your children education, not having to watch your children be murdered while playing in the street, being able to get medicine when it is needed, having a choice about where to live instead of being forced to live in segregated housing, having a place to live where the police will come if they are called, the luxury of not having to hear gun fire so often that you notice only its lack, not having to go through the yard to pick up needles before your kids go out to play, having computers to lounge around and blog on, books to read, the ability to read, ect.
    I do not really believe that these are luxuries, but in this country unfortunately they are to many.
    I wish that I could find either Obama or Rawls boring, what I mean by stroke inducing is that they raise my blood pressure way too high.
    You answered your own question about Rawls, he loves inequality to quote you, NO INEQUALITY IS EVER JUSTIFIABLE, go to a hungry child who is tryin g to sleep and tell them that it is OK that he is hungry because a rich man said so, even from a child you will get an earfull.
    Recreating poverty is easy, get up in the morning with more money that you need, go get more, go to bed with even more that you don;t need while people starve down the street. One recreates poverty every time one wears clothes that cost more than many make in a month to cover everything, one recreates poverty every time one hoards money, supports capitalism, supports a man who is willing to give handouts to the middle calss when they have too much. So both Rawls and Obama recreate poverty by intentionally creating lack for others by doing those things, hoarding money, buying expensive clothes, riding in limos, paying security guards when so many are in REAL danger and have no protection at all, buying expensive clothes for their kids while kids down the block starve, I don’t think I need to go on.
    Obama is hurting others in this country, right down the block fgrom all of us when he hands free money to the middle class, how about instead of giving them even MORE why not let someone have heat for an entire winter who has never had that luxury, why not use it for food for those who are hungry, why not use it for clothes for job interviews for those who can’t go to 1 if they can get it because they have nothing but 10 year old tshirts and jeans, why not buy medicine for a sick person who has no access to it, or give someone a phone so a job can call to set up an interview or transportation to put in applications, or maybe even help people who have had children murdered in the projects pay for the funerals with that money???? See, there is no justification for his policy of middle class welfare.
    I object and am horrified by handouts to the middle class, that is neither “ill founded” nor is it “off target”. Handing them more money to do harm with is an atrocity that should not be tolerated by anyone. I will not take part in the genocide of the poor no matter who is commiting it.
    Reform is just as dangerous to the overindulged as it is to those they are deceiving, throw a too small bone too many times and you will get bitten. As Tupac Shakur said “If you know in this hotel room they have food every day and I knock on the door. Every day they open tha door to let me see tha party, let me see that they throwin’ salami, throwin’ food around telling me there’s no food. Every day. I’m standing outside tryin to sing my way in- “We are weak, please let us in. We’re weak, please let us in.” After about a week tha song is gonna change to, “We’re hungry, we need some food.” After two, three weeks it’s like “Give me some of tha food! I’m breakin down tha door.” After a year it’s like, “I’m pickin’ the lock, comin’ through the door blastin.” It’s like, “I’m hungry.” You reached your level, you don’t want any more. We asked ten years ago, we were askin’ with the Panthers, we were askin’ in the Civil Rights Movement. Now those who were askin’ are all dead or in jail, wo what are we gonna do? And we shouldn’t be angry!?”

  16. sorry i didnt mean to say to quote you, i forgot to delete that, i was going to quote rawls from you but decided not to break my own rule of not entrenching harm by repeating it.

  17. Thanks, ilovefanon, for explaining what you mean.

    I think we’re violently agreeing here. A lot of the people I would consider middle class don’t have all the things you list in your first paragraph, especially access to health care and education. And we agree that they’re not really luxuries — they’re the most basic requirements of economic justice, the things that everyone needs in order to flourish. (Except maybe computers.)

    Where we disagree is over Rawls. You prefer an equal distribution of what he calls basic goods, right? But Rawls considers an equal distribution. He rejects it — at the level of a principle — in favour of the second part of the difference principle precisely because the difference principle prefers the distribution of basic goods that is of the greatest benefit to the least well-off. It’s true that he considers inequality justifiable — but only when that inequality is better for the poorest and most oppressed than equality. So if you can argue that an equal distribution is in the best interest of the poor, then you can argue that the difference principle requires an equal distribution. Economic equality isn’t written into the two principles, but it’s not incompatible with them.

    In short, how can you say that an account of justice that requires whatever is in the interest of the poor and explicitly ignores the interests of any other class neglects the poor and recreates poverty?

  18. Good evening, Happy April Fool’s Day!!

    A man visits his aunt in the nursing home. It turns out that she is taking a nap, so he just sits down in a chair in her room, flips through a few magazines, and munches on some peanuts sitting in a bowl on the table.
    Eventually, the aunt wakes up, and her nephew realizes he’s absentmindedly finished the entire bowl.
    “I’m so sorry, auntie, I’ve eaten all of your peanuts!”
    “That’s okay, dearie,” the aunt replied. “After I’ve sucked the chocolate off, I don’t care for them anyway.”

    Happy April Fool’s Day!

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