DEAR MISS MANNERS: How should you address the president and his wife in correspondence? Would the proper honorifics for correspondence with the current president and his wife be Mr. Joe and Dr. Jill Biden?
GENTLE READER: Perhaps you ask because of the kerfuffle about whether the title “doctor” should be used by doctors of philosophy. That should not be an issue in this case, because it is known that the lady in question does use it.
But there is a different, almost-forgotten rule that applies here. That is that the president of the United States is the preeminent person by that surname, as is the president’s spouse, and therefore their first names are not used.
Miss Manners realizes that this doesn’t make much sense, but then, tradition often doesn’t, and that is not always a disqualifying factor.
A silly example: In the 19th century, Caroline Astor, the wife of William Astor, was considered by some, most prominently herself, to be the leader of New York society. She therefore insisted upon being just “Mrs. Astor,” while others who had married into the family needed to specify which (lesser) Mrs. Astor they were -- that is to say, it was necessary for them to use their husbands’ full names.
Still following? And let’s not get sidetracked by the formal nomenclature of ladies, in which their own given names were not used, let alone their surnames of birth. It was accepted at the time.
Finally, the answer to your question:
“The President and Dr. Biden.”