Jill Biden delivers commencement speech at tiny community college with just a few dozen graduates

 June 2, 2024

To hear the media talk about her, one would think that first lady Dr. Jill Biden is hugely popular with the American people and in high demand as a speaker, particularly at college and university graduation ceremonies, given her role as a college professor and focus on the importance of higher education.

Yet, Biden isn't being asked to speak at major universities with huge graduating classes and instead is delivering commencement addresses at small community colleges with only a few hundred graduates or fewer, such as Erie County Community College in Pennsylvania, according to a local media report.

The tiny two-year school only recently opened in 2021 and just 65 graduates participated in Saturday's second-ever commencement ceremony, though a total of 80 students were qualified to receive an associate's degree or some other certification.

Jill Biden often speaks at small community colleges

The first lady's remarks at Erie County Community College on Saturday were the fairly standard platitudes about following one's dreams and defiantly proving detractors wrong -- the sort of speech that would likely be instantly forgotten by most recipients if it hadn't been delivered with the hype and imprimatur of the White House connection.

It bore similarities to the commencement address she delivered just a few weeks earlier at the slightly larger Mesa Community College in Phoenix, Arizona, where she spoke to around 500 or so graduates who participated in the ceremony out of the roughly 2,500 students who qualified for a certificate or two-year degree.

Nor was it substantially different from the speech she gave about two years earlier at California's Los Angeles City College, a school with just a few thousand full-time students even though tuition at the two-year school is free for full-time enrollees through a special program Biden helped launch as the second lady in 2016.

The story was much the same throughout her eight-year tenure as the second lady, when her husband served as the vice president, as she was rarely called upon to deliver addresses at prestigious institutions but instead gave speeches to students graduating from places like North Carolina's Central Piedmont Community College in 2015, Iowa's Southwestern Community College and Florida's Broward College in 2012, or Pennsylvania's Montgomery County Community College in 2011.

Jill Biden is not as popular as the media purports

To be sure, first lady Biden's defenders would likely argue that she, as an English professor herself at Northern Virginia Community College, purposefully eschews the major universities in favor of the small two-year schools, and given her track record and long-standing promotion of such schools -- for which she has long asserted tuition should be covered by taxpayers -- there may be an element of truth to that argument.

What that doesn't translate to, however, is the absurd narrative pushed by the media that she is some sort of widely beloved and highly sought-after public figure that students across the nation are clamoring to hear from.

In fact, according to a Newsweek report in March, Jill Biden is one of the most disliked first ladies in modern history, with an approval rating that is even lower than that of former first lady Melania Trump, with the key difference here being that Trump faced incessant attacks from the same media that has placed Biden on a pedestal as unassailable.

Per CNN's polling, as of November 2023, Biden was underwater with an approval of 25% and disapproval of 31%, despite being lauded at all times by the media. In comparison, as of January 2020, Trump had 42% approval and 47% disapproval -- again, largely driven by the media's constantly negative coverage of her.

Worse disapproval than all other modern former first ladies -- with one obvious exception and notable absence

Newsweek also pointed to a November 2023 YouGov poll of public figures which found that a plurality of Americans, 31%, rated first lady Biden as "poor" or "below average" compared to 28% who said she was just "average" and just 25% who described her as "outstanding" in her role.

Aside from the media-reviled Melania, the only other former first lady with a high disapproval rating was Michelle Obama at 28% -- also despite the media's constant praise for her like Biden.

Interestingly enough, other recent former first ladies like Laura Bush, Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan, Rosalynn Carter, Pat Nixon, and Lady Bird Johnson all had disapproval ratings in the low teens or single digits. Notably missing from Newsweek's coverage of the YouGov polling results, however, was Hillary Clinton.

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