Our Edith Wilson
By: Victor Davis Hanson
February 8, 2023
Jill Biden apparently is studying the career of another progressive icon, First Lady Edith Wilson. Edith (also a younger second wife to her widowed husband) went from First Lady to de facto President from October 1919 to March 1921, after Woodrow Wilson suffered an incapacitating stroke that left him bedridden.
Jill has had more practice and started earlier than Edith since she was the architect of Joe’s 19th-century-cabin-porch, basement campaign (remember Joe’s “rallies” where a few people in cars honked applause?) that kept him from the public and in his subterranean “office” about 2–3 hours per day.
That no-show campaign worked. Dr. Jill thinks his next campaign will too. We know the script: Joe will be kept on ice, and then wheeled out for a debate or speech after 15 hours of sleep and plenty of Adderall-like substances.
The campaign, as in 2020, will be outsourced to the media, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and the vast leftwing tech fortunes (again, not to beat a dead horse, but simply reread Molly Ball’s 2021 Time essay on the “conspiracy” that got an addled Joe elected).
Dr. Jill will count on 80 percent of the electorate not voting on Election Day, as the Democratic borg will scream “racism” and “voter suppression” to ensure automatic mail-out ballots, vote curing, ballot harvesting, and Silicon Valley money used to take over the work of registrars in key precincts of swing states. Election Day voting will go from the 2020s 30% to 2024s 15%.
Dr. Jill (what happened to the old rule that Ph.D.s. don’t go by “Doctor,” and so why would Ed.D.s?) will coordinate. As for now, just as Edith Wilson’s handlers created a wall around the president’s bedroom, filtered all in-and-outgoing communication, misled for months about the actual state of Wilson’s disabilities, and more or less ran the nation. So, Jill is the cocoon in which Joe is tightly wrapped.
Like Joe Biden’s long deterioration, Wilson’s health problems had been known before he ran. Six years before the 1912 election, in 1906 Wilson (50 years old) woke up temporarily blind in his right eye due to a stroke. From then on, he suffered from high blood pressure. Some historians have cited his chronic health problems to contextualize his irascibility, short temper, and arrogance (seem familiar?). Like Joe, Wilson was prone to temper tantrums, and “here’s the deal” and “come on, man” irascibility.
Again, Jill Biden more and more has become Edith. She governs what Biden says and does. And takes her own hard left cue from the Sanders/Squad/Warren crowd on the insanities on the border, Afghanistan, race, crime, oil and gas, and wokeness. Edith vetoed and greenlighted appointments; Jill does too. (Thanks to Jill, I think Kamala Harris [who all but called Joe a racist in the primaries] will be tasked with more surrogate jobs like “border czar.”)
Jill’s strategy from here on out, given his daily deterioration, is to allow her husband to rest nearly nonstop, work a two-day week, spend weekends at home, avoid press conferences and ad hoc commentaries — and hope he can still read teleprompters, while the hard Left runs the country. So too Wilson did in 1919–20. Any chance of handshaking with ghosts, addressing dead people at press conferences, or creepy references to pretty preteens in the audience will be smothered by news blackouts.
Edith Wilson believed she could keep Wilson alive and herself in the White House — and did. So does Jill. And given Wilson took over a year off from the presidency, he actually improved a bit. In a true act of insanity, both Edith and he appeared at some point had earlier shared some cockamamie notion—again so similar to the Jill/Joe plans for 2024—that Wilson could have run for a third term in 1920. But can one imagine a debate in two years between Joe and Trump or DeSantis or Pompeo? Back then, Democratic insiders stopped a non-compos-mentis Wilson from running again, and they may well do the same now with Biden.
There are other eerie similarities between the two incapacitated presidents.
Wilson and Biden are both hard leftists and both had a problem with race. Wilson was an outright, unapologetic racist, and Biden cannot refrain from racist outbursts (“put y’all in chains,” the corn-pop stories, “junkie,” “you ain’t black,” “boy,” “negro,” Obama as the first “clean” black presidential candidate, the doughnut store riffs, and on and on). Gossips likewise accused the widowed Wilson of “seeing” Edith while she was still married, in the fashion Jill’s prior husband Bill Stevenson alleged the same of Corvette Joe.
A few other similarities are eerie. The “Woodrow is fine and recovering” con contributed to the decline in Democratic fortunes. More importantly, Wilson’s out-of-step and unyielding progressivism — our first experience with woke self-righteousness — had turned off voters. So did Wilson’s sanctimonious League of Nations globalism. James Cox lost by a landslide to Warren G. Harding.
So, the Democrats were wiped out in 1920 (Wilson was too ill to attend Harding’s inaugural).
Let us hope history repeats itself, and 2024 sees the same result as 1920. Americans once again don’t like to be lied to by a First Lady, who knows the President is, well, no longer a president at all.