A First for a First Lady: Jill Biden Will Balance Her Career and East Wing Duties

WASHINGTON — After four tumultuous years, Americans may expect the incoming first lady, Jill Biden, to return the East Wing to a more traditional presence. But before she took office, Dr. Biden signaled that she would be bringing her own approach to the job.

华盛顿——在经历了四年的动荡之后,美国人或许可以期望即将上任的第一夫人吉尔·拜登(Jill Biden)能让白宫东翼回归传统。不过,在到任之前,拜登博士暗示,她会以自己的方式担负起这项工作。

Her second job, anyway.


Dr. Biden, who has a doctorate in educational leadership, will continue teaching writing at Northern Virginia Community College, where she taught full-time as second lady throughout the Obama administration. As first lady, she will be the first to balance her career with public-facing duties, a development her team has downplayed to protect her privacy.

拜登博士拥有教育领导学博士学位,她将继续在北弗吉尼亚州社区大学(Northern Virginia Community College)教授写作,在奥巴马政府担任第二夫人期间,她一直是这里的全职教员。在历届第一夫人当中,她是兼顾自己的事业和公众责任的第一人,为了保护隐私,她的团队已在淡化这一点。

“Dr. Biden will keep her teaching at Northern Virginia Community College separate from her public role,” said her spokesman, Michael LaRosa. Dr. Biden has also matter-of-factly shrugged off questions about her decision, noting that she did not really think of it in “historic terms” because she had already taught as second lady.

“拜登博士将把她在北维吉尼亚社区学院的教学工作与她的公共角色分开,”她的发言人迈克尔·拉罗萨(Michael LaRosa)说。拜登博士坦然回绝了关于其决定的提问,指出自己并没有从“历史的角度”来考虑这个问题,因为身为第二夫人的时候,她就一直在任教。

Still, whether or not she publicizes it, Dr. Biden, 69, will be the first to try such a balancing act, and will inherit the scrutiny associated with her newest role. As her modern predecessors have found, although being first lady of the United States is technically a job without any official responsibilities, the expectations of the president, the White House, American voters and a few thousand journalists must be managed.


In December, Dr. Biden’s career credentials were challenged weeks before she even set foot in the East Wing, when The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by the writer Joseph Epstein that called for her to drop the honorific from her name.

去年12月,在她踏进白宫东翼几周前,拜登博士的职业资历就受到了挑战,当时《华尔街日报》的观点版面发表了作家约瑟夫·爱泼斯坦(Joseph Epstein)的一篇评论,呼吁她把职业荣誉从她的名字前面拿下。

“Forget the small thrill of being Dr. Jill, and settle for the larger thrill of living for the next four years in the best public housing in the world as First Lady Jill Biden,” he wrote.


Politely, she declined.


“Together, we will build a world where the accomplishments of our daughters will be celebrated, rather than diminished,” Dr. Biden wrote on Twitter.


While building her career, teaching at Delaware Technical Community College and later earning her doctorate from the University of Delaware in 2007, Dr. Biden supported her husband’s ambition but sometimes did not enjoy life in the spotlight.

拜登博士一边打造自己的职业生涯——她曾在特拉华社区技术学院(Delaware Technical Community College)教书,并于2007年获得特拉华大学(University of Delaware)的博士学位,一边支持丈夫的雄心壮志,但有时候,她并不喜欢生活在聚光灯下面。

She did not always back the idea of her husband pursuing higher office. In 2004, she protested the idea of President Biden running for the White House by writing “No” in Sharpie on her bikini-clad body and marching around their house. (“My temper got the best of me. I decided I needed to contribute to this conversation,” she wrote of the episode in her 2019 memoir.)


She eventually relented: Mr. Biden was chosen as President Barack Obama’s vice president in 2008 after an unsuccessful presidential run. As second lady, she relished the relative anonymity teaching provided, noting in interviews that her students often did not recognize her. Indeed, on the website Rate My Professors, former students have more to say about her teaching style (“tough grader” is common) than her connection to two presidential administrations.

她最后做出了让步:在竞选总统失败后,拜登在2008年被贝拉克·奥巴马(Barack Obama)总统选作副总统。作为第二夫人,她享受着教书带来的相对低调,在采访中,她多次指出学生经常没认出来她。的确,在“评价我的教授”(Rate My Professors)网站上,以前的学生对她的教学风格的评论(“打分很严”是常见的评论)多过她与两届总统的关系。

But on Wednesday, Dr. Biden arrived at the White House with a higher profile, a platform similar to the one she had as second lady, and an East Wing stocked with aides she trusts. They include Anthony Bernal, a senior adviser who has been with the Bidens since the Obama campaign. Julissa Reynoso Pantaleón, an Obama State Department alumnus, is her chief of staff.

但在周三,拜登博士以更受关注的身份到达白宫——平台与她担任第二夫人时类似,而且在东翼有她信任的助手。其中包括自奥巴马竞选以来一直在为拜登夫妇工作的高级顾问安东尼·伯纳尔(Anthony Bernal)。她的幕僚长是奥巴马任期在国务院任职的朱利莎·雷诺索·潘塔莱昂(Julissa Reynoso Pantaleón)。

Last week, Dr. Biden appointed Rory Brosius, a former Biden campaign adviser, as director for the Joining Forces initiative, a program supporting military families Dr. Biden started with Michelle Obama when she was first lady. Dr. Biden is also expected to push for free community college and raise awareness for breast cancer prevention, aides said.

上周,拜登博士任命拜登前竞选顾问罗里·布罗修斯(Rory Brosius)担任“支持军队”(Joining Forces)倡议的主任,这是一个为军眷提供支持的计划,由拜登博士与米歇尔·奥巴马(Michelle Obama)在后者是第一夫人的时候创立。助手们表示,拜登博士还有望推动免费社区大学,并提高人们对乳腺癌预防的认识。

“She’s not going to walk in the door and go, ‘What’s my identity as first lady?’” Shailagh Murray, a former senior adviser to Mr. Biden and Mr. Obama, said in an interview. “It’s just going to be the first lady version of what she’s been doing all along.”

“她走进去的时候不会问,‘作为第一夫人我该做什么?’”拜登和奥巴马的前高级顾问谢拉格·默里(Shailagh Murray)在接受采访时说。“她会以第一夫人的身份做她一直以来所做的事。”

A native of New Jersey, Dr. Biden grew up in Willow Grove, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia. Plain-spoken with a Philly accent, Dr. Biden has approached her new role with the same folksy touch her husband tends to employ — “Call me Jill!” she said last week to allies who joined her on a Zoom call. But she is not without flashes of grit: During the presidential campaign, she put herself between her husband, 77 at the time, and a group of unruly vegan protesters.


“I remember every slight committed against the people that I love,” she wrote in her memoir, establishing herself as the family protector, if not its chief grudge holder.


After a brief first marriage, Dr. Biden married Mr. Biden in 1977, more than four years after his first wife, Neilia, and young daughter, Naomi, were killed in a car accident. She put her own career ambitions on hold to raise his two sons, Beau, a Delaware attorney general who died in 2015, and Hunter, as her own. The Bidens’ daughter, Ashley, was born in 1981.


Throughout most of Mr. Biden’s six Senate terms, two terms as vice president and three runs for the presidency, Dr. Biden has been by her husband’s side. Aides expect her to take on responsibilities that will continue to be meant to support him, including joining Mr. Biden in an attempt to heal the political rift that tore at the fabric of the country during President Donald J. Trump’s time in office.

在拜登的六个参议院任期、两个副总统任期和三次总统竞选期间的大部分时间里,拜登博士一直在丈夫的身边支持他。助手们希望她继续担负起支持他的责任,包括与拜登一起努力愈合在唐纳德·J·特朗普(Donald J. Trump)总统任职期间将国家撕裂的政治裂痕。

Dr. Biden also will be involved in helping communicate the administration’s work on the coronavirus pandemic to the public, aides said.


On Inauguration Day, the pandemic upended the usual in-person celebrations that an incoming administration uses to introduce itself to Washington, including the coming out of sorts that is expected of each first lady. Dr. Biden did not have an inauguration gown, which is customarily donated to the Smithsonian Institution.

在就职典礼当天,疫情打乱了新任政府往往用来向华盛顿做自我介绍的现场庆祝活动,包括每位第一夫人的亮相。拜登博士没有就职礼服。就职礼服按照传统将捐赠给史密森学会(Smithsonian Institution)。

Instead, as her husband was sworn in, Dr. Biden met the moment in a teal coat by the designer Alexandra O’Neill, which came complete with a color-coordinated face mask.

相反,当丈夫宣誓就职时,拜登博士身穿设计师Alexandra O’Neill的湖蓝色外套,并搭配了同色系的口罩。

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