MANSFIELD: Will Jill Biden Be America’s Second ‘Shadow President’?

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Jill Biden is referred to in the White House as “The Decider.” In recent days, she has insisted that her husband – the oldest ever Commander in Chief – will seek another term.

Of course, she’s “all for it.”

Her position holds perks: exotic trips, holidays in Nantucket, Oscar de la Renta gowns, and the cover of the August 2021 Vogue.  

Watching her 80-year-old husband take repeated tumbles, fumbling answers to the press (although he has held fewer press conferences than any president in recent history), and calling out for a deceased woman to appear at a ceremony must be painful for Jill Biden to watch. As “The Decider”, she alone gets to determine if the increasingly addled chief executive has the stamina and cognitive powers to seek another four years in office.

She loves the spotlight. Just watch the clip from the 2023 Grammys, as she became just the third First Lady to appear at the glitzy awards show.There have been a few gaffes along the way: wearing a black fascinator to Queen Elizabeth’s funeral rather than an appropriate hat. Fascinators are for weddings, hence the fanciful term.

As the First Coastal Grandmother, she has escaped to the family’s upscale beach house in Rehoboth, Delaware for bike rides and strolls by the ocean. The Bidens have spent 40 percent of his presidency on vacation, according to data collected by the Republican National Committee. Still, the White House refuses to release visitor logs while the Bidens are on R & R in Delaware.

But it’s clear Dr. Biden, as she insists we call her even though she doesn’t have a Ph.D., is not going to retire to collect seashells or even grade English tests. Her assessments as a professor at Northern Virginia Community College have been slipping. 

“She is a horrible teacher,” one student wrote on the rate my professor website. “Instead of motivating students, she makes them frustrated to no end…Instead of helping me, she offered no guidance at all but criticized me harshly. Dropping her class is one of the best decisions I ever made.”

“Worst English teacher at NOVA,” another student posted. “I should have read the comments before choosing her for my first semester.” Added another, “please do NOT take her. She simply doesn’t care about teaching.”

But if Biden wins another term, it’s likely that Dr. Biden won’t have time for suburban classrooms.

There is an important precedent of having a spouse fill in for an ailing leader. Yes, Eleanor Roosevelt was her husband’s legs. But it was Edith Wilson who became an acting President – without being elected.

Woodrow Wilson was a widower when he met Edith Bolling Galt—herself an attractive rich widow thanks to her first husband’s retail trade. 

It was love at first sight for the President, historians agree. When they began their relationship, Wilson hosted romantic suppers in The White House and sought Edith’s opinions on the trustworthiness of Cabinet Members and handling diplomats. The President’s advisors were worried. Marrying Edith in 1915 (barely a year after his first wife’s death) would lead to his defeat at the polls.

But Wilson won another term in 1917. Edith never left his side and worked together with her husband in a private White House office. He gave her a secret code to access classified information and let her screen his mail. Edith sat in on Oval Office meetings, after which she would provide withering assessments of political figures. She also began to deny advisors access to her husband.

By the late summer of 1919, the President’s mental acuity began to decline. His memory was slipping, and he often talked to himself. Complaining about splitting headaches and exhaustion from a grueling cross-country campaign train trip, Wilson suffered a near-fatal stroke on Oct. 2, which left his left side paralyzed. 

Edith became “The Decider.”  Her role was to mislead the entire nation. She simply stated that her husband “needed rest.” During her tenure, she managed to have the Secretary of State fired and is regarded by many as the first female President.

Edith’s powerful role in deceiving the American public continued until 1921 when the couple left The White House.

Will Jill Biden follow in Edith Wilson’s footsteps?

It’s up to the American people to decide.

Stephanie Mansfield is an award-winning journalist and former national reporter for The Washington Times.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.