The Jerusalem Post
Why ‘Vogue’ called Jill Biden a ‘goddess in stilettos’
Israeli journalists know a thing or two about the click-bait value of stories about the wives of the country’s leaders. As the controversial spouse of the longest-serving prime minister in the country’s history, Sara Netanyahu provided much such fodder for reporters and columnists. That the bulk of the coverage was decidedly negative made it all the more magnetic for media consumers.
Most of the press wasn’t merely using her often questionable behavior to attract readers and viewers, however; it was actively participating in a campaign to remove her husband from the helm. And though the mission to banish Benjamin Netanyahu to the benches of the opposition has been accomplished, the anxiety that the current government won’t last long enough to defeat him for good has led to lots of items about his family’s slow exit from Balfour Street, the location of the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem.
In parallel and in great contrast, glowing pieces on Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s wife, Gilat, have begun to crop up and take center stage. Adoring articles about wellknown author Lihi Lapid, wife of Alternate Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, are old hat, though they’ve frequently been employed to bolster her husband’s career.
The positive portraits of these two women will continue for as long as Bennett and Lapid remain in the good graces of editors. In the event that either gets on the wrong side of the peculiar form of political correctness born of the need to keep the “change” coalition of ideologically disparate parties from crumbling, the ink will be spilled differently – whether or not the new first ladies deserve the stain.
Indeed, media outlets don’t have to lie in order to cast aspersions on or present a figure in a less-than-flattering light. All they have to do is shift emphasis by highlighting one set of facts at the expense of another.
But even the most blatant cases of this practice in the Hebrew press never reached the low level displayed in the latest issue of Vogue, America’s top fashion magazine. As if the title of its cover story – “A First Lady for All of Us: On the Road with Dr. Jill Biden” – wasn’t sufficiently sycophantic, its accompanying content reads like a parody of a totalitarian regime’s propaganda sheet.
Those observing the current Orwellian climate in the United States no longer gasp at each new move by “progressives” to control society’s collective mind, but some take occasional breaks from tearing their hair out to laugh at the more egregious examples. Vogue’s Jonathan Van Meter, who penned the lengthy tribute, is an apt target for ridicule in this regard.
Not that he was trying to be funny. On the contrary, he was clearly proud of praising Jill Biden, in all seriousness, for the “several degrees” that earned her the “title [of doctor] that she has every right to.”
Nor did he have trouble mentioning that during a visit to Sauk Valley Community College in Illinois, “there were pink and white flowers set out everywhere, befitting her visit; they even matched her white dress and pink jacket.”
To stress that she’s not just a teacher in girlie garb, he said that during her many trips around the country, “the role she’s fulfilling is, in many ways, neither first lady nor professor but a key player in her husband’s administration, a West Wing surrogate and policy advocate.”
“It’s hard to imagine Joe doing this without her,” he quoted
Washington Post reporter Mary Jordan – author of a book on Melania Trump – as having said.
Jordan’s got that right. Joe doesn’t seem to be able to do much of anything on his own anymore. But this issue, which is of concern even among loyalists, didn’t sully the glossy pages devoted to fawning descriptions of “Dr. Biden.” Except, that is, in a passage summarizing the way in which many of the “countless editorials” about her husband’s first 100 days in office expressed “surprised relief over how much was getting done, how much legitimately helpful policy was moving through the system, how little drama, how few flubs or fumbles or ugly fights.”
Yes, he wrote, “Joe Biden is boring – and that’s not a complaint.”
Of Dr. Jill, on the other hand, he said, “You generally hear her before you see her because she is often laughing. She is, quite simply, a joy multiplier.”
THE SACCHARINE language doesn’t end there. “Part of what makes the Bidens’ right-out-ofthe-gate successes so extraordinary is that they seem to have perfectly read the room,” he asserted. “We have been through this enormous, collective trauma, and here’s a calm, experienced, empathetic president, and here’s a first lady who is driven, tireless, effortlessly popular, but also someone who reminds us of ourselves. She’s selling a new vision for how our most fundamental institutions ought to work – infrastructure, education, public health – even as she goes to extraordinary lengths to keep a real-world job, to stay in touch with what makes her human and what matters most.”
Van Meter recounted how Dr. Jill came to chat with him in the plane transporting the Bidens and accompanying reporters back home to Washington. She had heard of his mother’s recent death, but didn’t realize that it occurred on “the very day her husband was declared the winner” of the November election.
“Who can say why some people seem to have extra capacity to feel other people’s sorrow?” he asked rhetorically, adding, “But there I was, in front of a group of strangers, becoming emotional as I relayed this coincidence of timing. When I composed myself, I looked up at Jill, and she, too, had tears in her eyes.”
This heart-warming account was a perfect segue into a dig at Donald Trump: “When Marine One... lands [at Joint Base Andrews] and then roars up to disgorge [the Bidens,] it feels like a show of muscularity that is particular to the United States – one that is no longer in the hands of someone for whom that seemed to matter too much and for all the wrong reasons.”
Here Van Meter outdid himself in groveling before that “someone’s” successor.
“The quasi-march across the tarmac, [Biden’s] crisp salute to the commanders and sergeants in place to greet him – it suits Joe, in his aviators, so tall and thin in his impeccable blue suit,” he wrote.
And then came the clincher: “[Biden] crouches into a deep knee bend, impressive for a 78-year-old, as a little boy carrying a tiny American flag comes toward him. He embraces the child as Jill lingers on the macadam behind him in black-and-white stilettos, looking every inch a goddess at 69. It’s moments like this with the Bidens – hugging children! – that bring home just how incomprehensibly irregular and out of place our previous president and first lady really were.”
The agitprop was flawless: Joe is lean and cool in aviator glasses and an impeccable suit; Jill-thedoctor is a goddess in stilettos. And they hug children, to boot – unlike the ogres Donald and Melania.
Never mind that even the Trumps’ worst enemies might snort at the suggestion that Jill is a bigger babe than Melania. Nevertheless, that topic, like the rest of Van Meter’s love letter disguised as a feature, is for a different discussion.
More relevant here is the motive behind the profile as a whole, published months after the antiTrump camp got its wish. Gloating is part of the impetus, no doubt, yet it runs deeper than that.
Joe Biden was chosen by his party as the candidate best suited to camouflage its increasingly radical ranks and be manipulated by them. In this respect, his fuzziness was considered by far-left Democrats to be an asset.
That was all well and good when they could keep him hidden away during the first months of the pandemic. Now that he’s emerged from his “bunker,” he’s exposed to mockery. Sadly, not enough of the derision is connected to his politics. That would be fair game. Instead, it’s related to his apparent suffering from a degree of cognitive impairment.
This is where his wife becomes crucial to the cause. Just as Joe was a cloak for the party, Jill is a veil for his difficulties. Media outlets invested in preventing the rise of the next Republican administration must now, more than ever, aim the spotlight at the woman who’s propping up their man.
Vogue went above and beyond the call of duty in this endeavor. If its Israeli counterparts aren’t careful, they’ll wind up dropping the last vestige of their already disintegrated journalistic integrity