Jill Biden does not have a PhD. She has an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership. It’s an applied doctorate, designed to certify rising administrators in the field of education. Just keep that in mind. It will be important soon enough.
The last time Lawyers, Guns & Money checked in on the war against Jill Biden, the Wall Street Journal had just published a last-minute entry for “Worst Op-Ed of 2020.” As Scott put it:
One thing about reactionary critics who are self-appointed upholders of the Great Standards of Western Culture is that they are invariably hideously bad writers. In this case, form definitely matches content. I particularly like how he immediately drops the faux-anti-elitist schtick to imply that one can’t do rigorous scholarly work at a state school and to dismiss research into how to improve educational outcomes in community colleges as “unpromising.” (Funny, that’s what comes to mind whenever I see Joseph Epstein’s byline.) Anyway, amazing coincidence how this fourth-rate essayist has yet to encounter a woman in public life he considers smart enough to be worthy of his respect.
Alas, this was not the end of the saga. Paul Gigot painted criticisms of his poor judgment as cancel culture run amuck. Because, for the conservative elite, free speech means freedom from judgment – the marketplace of ideas for thee, socialized ideological risk for me.
Mark J. Perry “is concurrently a scholar at AEI and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus” and “is best known as the creator and editor of the popular economics blog Carpe Diem.” He put his mad econometric skills to good use by tabulating every typographical error in Biden’s dissertation and tweeting them out.
Such academic luminaries as Epstein and Perry may have been content with whining about the number of womenfolk receiving non-academic doctorates or confusion over the “rules” of hyphenating compound adjectives. Not Kyle Smith, an author and critic who, like Brett Kavanaugh, considers it very important that everyone know he received his BA from Yale.
Smith has taken it upon himself to “Gorka” Dr. Jill Biden. To that end, he has graced us with a three-part series at the National Review. I’ve read this series, as well as Biden’s “dissertation/executive position paper,” and about a half-dozen other University of Delaware Ed.D. theses from around the same time. I’m sorry to report that those of who Gorked Gorka should have included “don’t try this at home” disclaimers.
An effective Gorking requires careful attention to detail, an understanding of appropriate standards, and a target whose conduct justifies such an exceptional step. As I wrote when I embarked on my series:
We should exercise caution when evaluating dissertations. Dissertations are not works of scientific perfection. I finished mine in a marathon month, as I was pushing the deadline for retaining my position at Georgetown. Even the substantially revised book that emerged from contains a handful of truly embarrassing historical errors. In other words, I think it would be grossly unfair to reduce Gorka to his dissertation, or to use it as evidence that he is unqualified for his position.
There are other norms at work, such as deference to the judgment of an institution, its faculty, and their standards for granting a degree. Gorka presented, as I noted in a post about Carter Page, a truly unusual case:
No, I’m absolutely not, as a friend recently called it, pulling a “Gorka” on Page. The abysmal quality of Gorka’s dissertation was directly relevant to his claims of expertise and his position at the White House. Besides, he used it as a cudgel against his detractors. Page may have called himself a scholar in his testimony, but I don’t see any value in raking a likely mediocre dissertation over the coals just to prove what we already know: Page is not very bright.
Jill Biden’s only “offense” appears to be her asking to be referred to as “Dr. Jill Biden.” Since she’s well within her rights to do so, one suspects that her actual “offense” is being a woman who is married to the Democratic President-elect of the United States.
All of this makes Biden an inappropriate candidate for a Gorking. Having failed this test, it should come as little surprise that Smith lacks both the attention to detail and understanding of appropriate standards necessary to succeed at his self-appointed task.
Smith’s attempted Gorking consists (so far) of three posts. The first post is devoted to different ways of saying “the dissertation is garbage,” leavened only by a leitmotif of elitism and a smattering of ad hominem attacks. (Smith engages in hyperbole. I do not.)
Smith opens by accusing Biden of status insecurity, making sure that we know that he attended Yale (yes, this is Poe’s Law territory), and forgetting that many more non-physicians than Henry Kissinger use the honorific.
None of the professors I knew at Yale, even the ones who were eminent in their fields, insisted on the title, and I think most of them would have scoffed if someone had addressed them as “Dr.” The only reason you ever hear the phrase “Dr. Henry Kissinger” is that Kissy grew up in title-mad, airs-and-graces Germany, where people are awed rather than dismissive even if you insist on a triple-serving title (“Herr Professor Doktor”).
To the extent that we don’t use “Dr.” in the classroom, that’s because we don’t need to. We already have the title “Professor.” Female professors are more likely to use “Dr.” than male professors in an academic setting. The reason is simple: students are more likely to drop “professor’ in favor of “Ms.” or “Mrs.” than they are to call their male professors “Mr.” – although this just happened to me, so 🤷♂️.
My sense is that those who have doctoral degrees but aren’t in an academic position are more likely, all things being equal, to use the honorific; the only time somebody told me that I should actually call myself “Dr. Daniel Nexon” was when I worked in the Pentagon.
Anyway, if you want a sense of what Smith’s first post is like, here’s a sample:
Mrs. Biden wanted the credential for its own sake. As for its quality, well. She got it from the University of Delaware, whose ties to her husband, its most illustrious alumnus if you don’t count Joe Flacco, run so deep that it has a school of public policy named after him.
That the University of Delaware would have rejected her 2006 dissertation as sloppy, poorly written, non-academic, and barely fit for a middle-school Social Studies classroom (all of which it is) when her husband had been representing its state in the U.S. Senate for more than three decades was about as likely as Tom Hagen telling Vito Corleone that his wife is a fat sow on payday. The only risk to the University of Delaware was that it might strain its collective wrist in its rush to rubber-stamp her doctoral paper. Mrs. Biden could have turned in a quarter-a**ed excuse for a magazine article written at the level of Simple English Wikipedia and been heartily congratulated by the university for her towering mastery. Which is exactly what happened.
Jill Biden’s dissertation is not an addition to the sum total of human knowledge. It is not a demonstration of expertise in its specific topic or its broad field. It is a gasping, wheezing, frail little Disney forest creature that begs you to notice the effort it makes to be the thing it is imitating while failing so pathetically that any witnesses to its ineptitude must feel compelled, out of manners alone, to drag it to the nearest podium and give it a participation trophy.
Which is more or less what an Ed.D. is. It’s a degree that only deeply unimpressive people feel confers the honorific of “Doctor.” People who are actually smart understand that being in possession of a credential is no proof of intelligence.
Why show when you can tell… and tell… and tell? That’s the mark of great writing, after all.
It’s only in the next post that Smith begins to warrant the vitriol he throws at Biden’s “landfill” of a paper. I write “begins” because the second post doesn’t contain any substantive criticisms of the dissertation. It’s given over to two lines of argument: “Biden’s style is atrocious” and “her research is comical”. He alleges that “her reasoning is muddled” but doesn’t attempt to explain why until the third post.
Smith’s complaint that the thesis doesn’t meet his standards of craftsmanship – with respect to syntax and spelling – underscores how little experience he has reading dissertations. This is why my “stylistic” criticisms of Gorka’s dissertation focused on its pretentiousness – every sentence resonated with his dulcet tones – and consistent failure to comply with norms of proper citation.
Articles in academic journals tend to go through at least some basic professional copyediting. The same is, of course, not true of a significant number of dissertations. But I suppose that if Biden had retained an editor, Smith would’ve held that up as additional evidence of her lack of a strong work ethic.
When it comes to Smith’s argument about Biden’s putative laziness, his post turns both a bit sinister and, if I may borrow his word, “comical.”
Before we go deeper into Smith’s work, let’s pause and discuss standards.
At the outset I mentioned that Biden has “an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership” and not a PhD. The Department’s website provides a handy summary of the difference at Delaware:
The Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs differ primarily in terms of research expectations. The difference in expectations is reflected in the kinds of research preparation students receive and the kinds of problems that the thesis should address.
The Ph.D. program is designed to prepare students to launch a research career that focuses on studying important problems of the field of education. Thus, Ph.D. students are expected to identify and address a problem that has some fundamental or generalizable significance.
In contrast, the Ed.D. program is designed to prepare students to assume leadership roles in administration, curriculum, and teaching. Thus, Ed.D. students are expected to identify and address a problem that has some significance to a local situation. In addition, the Ph.D. program is a 4-5 year program designed for students to attend on a full-time basis, most often with support from an assistantship or fellowship. In contrast, the Ed.D. program is a 3-4 year program designed to be completed on a part-time basis with students maintaining their current employment.
Some critics have honed in on the fact that Biden’s dissertation is not a PhD thesis but an “Executive Position Paper.” Not every such objection to calling her “Dr.” comes cloaked in Smith’s rank elitism or Epstein’s gender anxieties. Here’s Eugene Volokh discussing the matter in both a reasonable and generous manner:
If the Ed.D. were just a Ph.D. in education, there’d indeed be no basis for treating it differently from a Ph.D. in other fields (regardless of the gender mixes in those fields); education is an important subject for scholarly research, just as is literature or history or political science. But actually the Ed.D. seems quite far, at least at the University of Delaware, from a Ph.D., and more like a master’s degree or like a J.D. And a J.D., despite its being a Juris Doctor, has never been seen as entitling the holder to a “Dr.,” both in its early overwhelmingly-male years and more recently, when about equal numbers of women and men receive it.
Jill Biden doubtless worked hard for her Ed.D., as people generally work hard for their M.S.s and M.A.s (generally 1½-to-2-year full-time degrees) or for their J.D.s (again, 3-year full-time degrees). She doubtless worked hard on her thesis, as people generally work hard on their masters’ theses or law review student articles (not required for a J.D., but something many students do write). But I don’t see a basis for treating her Ed.D. as similar to a Ph.D. (which many people do treat as entitling the holder to the title “Dr.”) rather than to a J.D.
Or if Ed.D.s from Delaware-like programs are going to be called “Dr.,” it’s hard to see why lawyers (at least ones who have written a substantial law review article while in law school) don’t merit the label “Dr.” as well.
The problem here is that there aren’t any objective rules. Which “doctoral” degrees confer the title “Dr.” is entirely a matter of convention (as are all honorifics, ultimately). MDs don’t write a thesis either – and arguably usurped “Dr.” from PhDs – yet a good many people who’ve attacked Jill Biden claim that only MDs (or in a wonderful example of Shapiroian incoherence, only MDs and PhDs in the “hard” sciences) have the right to call themselves “Dr.” From what I can tell, it’s quite common – whether critics think they deserve to or not – for Ed.Ds to use the honorific.
When it comes to workload, Volokh also makes a misstep that’s worth noting:
… I’ve confirmed that, when Jill Biden was in the Ed.D. program, it required 54 credits of coursework (including 12 research credits), which means a workload corresponding to about 14 3-hour-per-week semester-long courses, plus the research time. By way of comparison, using roughly the same credit=hour-per-week during a semester calculation, the 3-year J.D.s require 83 credit hours, some of which also often correspond to research or to practicums. The Ed.D. is thus roughly comparable to a 2-year full-time professional program.
That would be a fair comparison if one went directly from an undergraduate degree to the Ed.D. In fact, applicants are required to already hold an MA degree prior to admission to the program at the University of Delaware. There are PhD programs that work the same way, and where 2-3 years isn’t an unheard of amount of time from entrance to the completion of the thesis.
For that matter, we can argue, as Volokh does, that a PhD thesis “is generally a dissertation that constitutes a substantial original work of scholarship,” but it should be pretty clear that “generally” is doing a lot of work here. This is why writing a crappy thesis doesn’t mean that Gorka can’t call himself “Dr. Gorka.” It means his PhD doesn’t certify him as an expert on terrorism or in political science. Biden isn’t trying to pass herself off as a leading expert on educational reform or whatever. (Gorka’s case is complicated by the possible failure of his committee to conform to Corvinus requirements.)
The question then, really is not whether holding an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership is sufficiently rigorous to confer the honorific, but whether Biden’s work meets the standards expected of holders of her degree. I’ve perused a number of other Ed.D. dissertations that were granted at the University of Delaware within a few years before or after Biden submitted her own. Biden’s didn’t strike me as outside the norm. Some were better. Some weren’t.
In short, Smith is free to express his concerns about the program itself to the University of Delaware. And he does. Like community colleges and the people who teach at them, Smith makes clear he holds the Ed.D. in contempt. But he’s on very thin ice when he tries to make this about Biden herself.
That ice, it turns out, won’t support him.
In one particularly silly passage, Smith attempts to argue that Biden didn’t really read her sources because she cites from specific clusters of page ranges:
I say “skimmed,” but perhaps I’m being unfair. Let’s just observe that as a scholar, Biden certainly is fortunate: Again and again, the books she cites turn out to contain a huge proportion of the material relevant to her discussion in their first 20 pages. For instance, a book she leans on heavily to bulk up her word count, A. M. Cohen, F. B. Brawer, and C. B. Kisker’s The American Community College, contains material on pages 1, 6, 7, 9, 13, and 20 that she deemed worthy of quotation. (There is also strong evidence that she read pages 202–207). By an astonishing coincidence, seven of her 15 quotations from a book about community colleges by A. A. Witt et al. (and published by something called “The Community College Press” [ed: well, it’s not Yale University Press so I guess the book must suck]) come from the first 15 pages of the book, but we can be sure she also read pages 96–97 because four of the remainder come from those pages.
Perhaps because Smith has no experience with post-graduate academic work, it doesn’t occur to him to ask questions such as “did the pages in question contain material particularly germane to what Biden was summarizing?” I couldn’t get full-text access to the works, but I did track down enough information to suggest the answer is “yes.”
Cohen & Brawer (2003) appears to be a standard textbook on community colleges (cited 5400+ times). The page ranges reflect… relevant parts of the text.
I couldn’t find a table of contents with pagination for Witt et al., but I did find a summary of the contents. Again, the page ranges aren’t terribly surprising in light of the substance, especially since she cites a different source for her two sentences on the pre-crash 1920s.
Keep in mind here that the section Smith is complaining about is a potted history of community colleges. Neither this kind of material, nor the number of citations, is significantly out of step from the comparable theses that I perused.
The same is true of the instruments Biden uses for her research project. They do not meet the level of rigor we would expect from a PhD thesis, but this isn’t a PhD thesis and, for a Delaware Ed.D., they seem pretty par for the course.
At one point Smith complains that her survey questions “seem more characteristic of the inquiries of a marketing department than an academic exploration.” To which I feel compelled to say “Mr. Smith, welcome to the administrative side of higher education.” I’m sure, being a graduate of Yale, Smith remembers those “teaching evaluations” he filled out. Did their resemblance to customer satisfaction surveys not occur to to him?
For what it’s worth, Biden’s questions are relevant to her project. She wants to know what kinds of factors make students more likely to drop out, and what community colleges can do to mitigate those factors. Availability of student parking, for example, is probably a non-trivial issue. Satisfaction with advising also seems fairly pertinent.
In Smith’s third post, he promises to move beyond ‘Biden didn’t work hard enough’ and identify her intellectual failings. The results are… not pretty.
Smith starts out by complaining, yet again, about the thesis’s lack of social-scientific rigor. But, yet again, I don’t think anyone – except maybe some of the members of Gorka’s dissertation committee – is likely to dispute that Biden’s work wouldn’t fly as a PhD thesis. And, as he did in his second post, Smith starts to drown when he tries to turn this on Biden herself.
To distract from her own opinions, Biden pumps in lots of other people’s as well, dressed up as citation: “Bryant and Crockett (2005) argues [sic] that the job of an advisor does not end when student [sic] signs up for classes — the advisor should be connected to students until the day they graduate.” The idea of flooding the zone with student advisers is barely an idea: Biden at no point considers whether it is worth it, on either side, for community colleges to press harder to retain their least-motivated students. Unlike a bachelor’s degree, a degree from a community college is not a particularly valuable credential, and it may be that many students are correct in believing that a community-college degree is not worth the time or other resources required to obtain it, or simply believe that they are not learning very much. Every hour a community-college student spends on his studies is an hour he is not spending on some other activity. Perhaps that other activity is a job in which having a community-college degree confers zero additional value. The question is at least worth considering, but Biden does not consider it. She, a community-college instructor, simply proceeds from the assumption that a community-college degree is a thing of such obvious value that both students and educators should press for as many students to earn them as possible, with no mention of cost. It doesn’t cross her mind that someone in a community college might have something better, more interesting, or more remunerative to do with his time.
The reference to Bryant and Crockett (2005) is found in “Paper I” of the dissertation, which is literally titled “literature review.” That is, the whole point of this section of the dissertation is to “[pump] in lots of other people’s [opinions]… dressed up in citation.” I’m honestly kind of shocked that even a Yalie doesn’t understand this.
Smith is correct that Biden doesn’t consider the opportunity cost of “flooding the zone with student advisers.” This makes perfect sense. Neither the literature that she’s reviewing nor the dissertation recommends doing any such thing. That’s not what “the job of an advisor does not end when student signs up for classes” means.
I too agree that Biden doesn’t consider whether community college is a colossal waste of time and it would, in fact, be better to eschew efforts to help the plebes stay in school. But I also just can’t even.
Does Smith believes it’s a sign of intellectual vacuousness that theses on business strategy do not, in the main, spend time on questions like “but maybe instead we should reject capitalism and form an anarcho-syndicalist commune.” Does he believe that theses in the hard sciences would be improved if they considered whether the gods will grow angry if mankind learns more of the secrets of the universe?
Not writing the thesis that Mr. Kyle Smith would prefer to have read – I presume something along the lines of “Do people who don’t attend Yale deserve support in their efforts to acquire post-secondary education?” – is not a meaningful criticism. Has it crossed his mind that women who don’t attend Ivy League schools might actually come to reasoned and intelligent conclusion about the value of what they do? Or that his questions might not be addressed because they are outside the scope of the thesis?
The line of criticism doesn’t even make sense. Biden isn’t proposing sending the gendarmes after students who drop out of community college. She’s not suggesting that students who don’t want to be there should be duped, cajoled, or bribed into staying. The thesis investigates how community colleges can help students complete their classes and their degrees. Any given student can still conclude that there are better uses of their time; the aim is to reduce barriers created – whether through omission or commission – by institutions themselves.
Smith believes he’s onto something because, as he writes:
A chat session she convened with other faculty members (which she considers meaningful original research) suggests an ulterior motive for students who aren’t interested in studying: Pre-Obamacare, adults who could show that they were full-time students could remain covered by their parents’ insurance. (Obamacare removed the student requirement for adults up to age 26.) Biden simply breezes by this piece of information, barely noticing that her own colleagues are telling her some “students” are present for the health insurance, not to learn anything. Why fret about retaining students who aren’t there to study in the first place?
I don’t quite understand why Smith thinks Biden “breezes by this piece of information.” On page 57 she notes that “Health care was mentioned as a major factor, but Delaware Tech cannot control state and federal programs related to health care.” Which is correct. Efforts to improve retention will have little to no relevance for students who only enroll to stay on their parents’ health insurance.
Somewhat surprisingly, this is not the most embarrassing part of Smith’s post. That distinction falls to the second major prong of his attack on Biden’s intellectual chops, which instead reveals that Smith is mathematically illiterate.
Biden gets so caught up in repeating vapid liberal nostrums that she doesn’t even realize some of them contradict others. She claims without evidence that a major reason “[m]any students do not feel comfortable at their community college” is “a lack of diversity” in “the student population,” having forgotten that the first sentence of her paper is this one: “Delaware Technical and Community College serves a highly diverse student body in terms of age, gender, race, and socio-economic status.” Moreover, Delaware Tech is typical of community colleges in general: “Diversity, rather than homogeneity, is the norm.” So slipshod is Biden’s memory that the sentence that immediately precedes her bewailing “lack of diversity” is this one: “The National Center of Educational Statistics (1999), reported that ‘42.3 percent of African Americans in higher education are in the community college system, along with 50% of the Native American and 55.6% of Hispanic enrollment’ (Pope, 2002).” If about half of America’s minorities who are in higher education are in community colleges, these institutions would appear to be quite diverse indeed, if by “diverse” one means “largely nonwhite,” which appears to be Biden’s definition. Delaware Tech is by this definition considerably more diverse than the state in which it sits, which is 69 percent white.
In case you missed it, I’ve changed the color of the font to highlight the key parts. The data tell us nothing about student racial diversity in community colleges because they include no information about the absolute number of African Americans, Native American, and Hispanics in U.S. higher education; the absolute number of whites in U.S. higher education; or the proportion of those white students who are enrolled in the community college system. (We also lack any information about Asian Americans which, if you look at the data, is not an insignificant omission).
Smith has taken 50% as ‘close enough’ and then somehow decided that the quotation means half of the students in the community college system are African American, Native American, or Hispanic. Since 50% is greater than the 31% of people in the state of Delaware who are not white (in 2010), then community colleges are actually very diverse, right? 🙄
(The data in the quotation were around eight years old when Biden wrote her thesis. I don’t think it would’ve been too hard to have gotten more recent data, but it’s not a huge deal since such data support the claim that “the populations of African, Middle Eastern, Hispanic, and Native Americans are increasing within the community college.”)
Smith also seems to be having trouble with words like “many” and concepts like national averages, but he does understand how selective quotation and breaking up material can make a weak criticism seem stronger than it is.
The full paragraph from Biden’s dissertation reads:
Many students do not feel comfortable at their community colleges because of the lack of diversity either in the student population or in the make-up of the faculty. A lack of English as a Second Language (ESL) support could also hinder student success. Moreover, many minority students lack basic skills such as identifying the main idea and supporting statements, identifying parts of speech or using punctuation correctly; thus, they are placed in remedial courses. To address their needs, “some institutions have developed alternative programs that assist minority students who have conflicts in connecting with mentors in order to achieve the career-related and psychosocial guidance needed to survive and be successful in college” (Pope, 2002).
It should be clear that a lack of diversity in at least one of two populations at some institutions is one of a number of conditions that create barriers to the success of some minority students.
So a lot rides in the idea that Biden is hoisted on her own petard for claiming that “Delaware Tech is typical of community colleges in general.” Except she doesn’t say that – at least in the way that Smith implies. Here’s the full paragraph from which Smith pulls “Diversity, rather than homogeneity, is the norm”:
The community college classroom is unlike any other classroom in America. Diversity, rather than homogeneity, is the norm. In an average-sized class of twenty students at Delaware Tech, for example, most of the seats will be filled with young students who have just graduated from high school. The majority of these will be female. At least five seats will be filled with middle-aged men and women who have lost their jobs due to downsizing and/or outsourcing. One or two seats will be filled with students who have graduated from a GED program. Some seats will hold older women whose children have just entered college – now these women are taking the opportunity to earn college degrees themselves. Three quarters of the class will be Caucasian; one quarter of the class will be African American; one seat will hold a Latino; and the remaining seats will be filled with students of Asian descent or non-resident aliens. At least one quarter of the students will have children – most of them will be single mothers. Some will be the first in their families to attend college. Few will have taken honors courses in high school, while many will have taken remedial courses, special education, or vocational training. Almost two-thirds will be part-time students, with the remaining one-third attending college on a full-time basis. The socio-economic status will range from middle to lower class with approximately 67 percent receiving financial aid. Although there is strength in diversity as a classroom component, the lack of homogeneity in academic ability makes it difficult to teach to a single standard. In addition to academic concerns, the social, emotional, and physical needs of the community college student offer their own unique challenges. As a result, due to the diversity of the student population, student retention is a major problem faced by the community college.
If these numbers are right, by the way, DTCC likely wasn’t more racially diverse, at the time, than the whole of Delaware.
The thing is, even if we look past both the subtle and gross misrepresentations, we’re still left with a recurrent theme from Smith’s post: the material he’s going ballistic on? It’s from… you guessed it… the literature review.
The article Biden cites is the one making the argument, and that article itself cites additional sources for its claims. No one is talking specifically about Delaware Technical Community College in the passages Smith criticizes. His claim that Biden is so clueless that she contradicts herself is based on a combination of sleight of hand, innumeracy, and confusion.
Biden claims that another source of friction is the lack of diversity “in the make-up of the faculty, which creates a feeling of alienation,” but she provides no evidence for this claim either, nor does she provide a demographic breakdown of the Delaware Tech faculty. Many such assertions float through the paper, untethered to anything. I can see the red pen of my eighth-grade Social Studies teacher going furiously to work: “Where is the EVIDENCE?” When you’re married to a senator, ordinary dissertation standards have a way of disappearing.
“Sir, this is a literature review.”
Biden’s paper doesn’t even compare her meager findings about her own community college to what happens at other community colleges, because that would have meant more effort than she was willing to make, which was questioning a few people in her immediate vicinity, leafing through a few secondary sources, and typing out long strings of nugatory prose.
None of the Ed.D theses I read fielded national surveys or the like. They all deal with specific problems in particular institutions. The literature review is supposed to cover general circumstances, while the students’ research and recommendations focus on that institution (or those institutions). Which is what Biden does.
In sum, Dr. Jill Biden wants us to call her “Dr.” because she has a professional doctoral degree – an “Ed.D. in Educational Leadership.”
Some people question whether those with such degrees deserve the honorific, as the programs they attend and the theses they write tend to be far less rigorous than those associated with academic PhDs. There is no question in my mind that none of the Ed.D. theses I read would justify the conferral of a degree in political science at a reputable PhD granting institution. But no one – including, as far as I know, the people with those degrees – pretends otherwise.
So for people who have a long record of complaining about the ‘dilution’ of “Dr.” via programs like the “Ed.D. in Educational Leadership,” you do you.
I certainly don’t think my PhD is diluted because people with professional doctorates call themselves “Dr.” I also don’t think my degree is diluted by frauds and charlatans that do have a PhD in my field of study. Under rare circumstances – such as when those frauds and charlatans are leveraging their degrees to influence the national security policy of the United States – their dissertations are fair game.
But this is not one of those situations. Thus, if “save the integrity of the PhD” suddenly became a pressing issue for you because the wife of the Democratic President-elect of the United States wants to be called “Dr.” then fuck off. You’re not fooling anyone.
If either of these bugaboos lead you to think the best course of action is to try to Gorka Dr. Jill Biden, then keep in mind that no matter what you do, she’ll be the First Lady of the United States on January 20, 2021. No matter how hard you try to impugn her intelligence, the vast majority of people will still call her “Dr. Jill Biden.”
So for your own sake, leave attempted Gorking to people who know what they’re doing, lest the only intellectual vacuity on display be your own.