You may remember Joseph Epstein from such essays as “presidents were selected purely on merit until 2008, but now Hillary Clinton will win solely because of her gender” and “I do think homosexuality an anathema, and hence homosexuals cursed.” The Wall Street Journal decided to dip into its nostalgia file for another round:
Madame First Lady—Mrs. Biden—Jill—kiddo: a bit of advice on what may seem like a small but I think is a not unimportant matter. Any chance you might drop the “Dr.” before your name? “Dr. Jill Biden ” sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic. Your degree is, I believe, an Ed.D., a doctor of education, earned at the University of Delaware through a dissertation with the unpromising title “Student Retention at the Community College Level: Meeting Students’ Needs.” A wise man once said that no one should call himself “Dr.” unless he has delivered a child. Think about it, Dr. Jill, and forthwith drop the doc.
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.
As a bonus, Epstein moves on to some incoherent rambling about how the practice of…honorary degrees has been degraded:
At Northwestern, recent honorary-degree recipients and commencement speakers have included Stephen Colbert and Seth Davis. I sent a complaining email to the school’s president about the low quality of such men as academic honorands, with the result that the following year the commencement speaker and honorand was Billie Jean King —who, with the graduating members of the school’s women’s tennis team, hit tennis balls out to the audience of graduating students and the parents who had paid $70,000 a year for their university education, or perhaps I should say for their “credential.”
“There are too many honorary degrees these days. Please eliminate the ones that don’t go to male scientists or me. I am not a crackpot.”
Meanwhile, in a rough week for Greggggggs I present the “calling a zero blitz in a Hail Mary situation and then not even rushing your entire front seven” of punditry:
My question: scholar of what?