Witness what celebrity hath wrought on the Bush twins, Jenna and Barbara. Well, just Jenna, really. The University of Texas freshman has been cited twice in the past two months for alcohol-related incidents, most recently Tuesday night, when the manager of a Mexican restaurant called Austin police after the 19-year-old tried to order a beer using someone else’s ID. Barbara, as the tabloids breathlessly reported Thursday morning, "sat by and watched" as her twin was apprehended.
Hey, who doesn't do this kind of thing?
Local authorities are investigating the matter and refuse to say whether charges will be filed. I hope they won’t this whole thing seems more than a bit overblown to me. What college freshman hasn’t downed a few beers? Yes, Mom and Dad, it’s true. While my angst-ridden first-born personality kept me in check while I was in high school, once I left for college, I engaged in a few games of quarters. And I spent one woeful Sunday morning outside my freshman dorm communing with the roots of a magnolia tree. Without delving into any of the grisly specifics, let’s just say that poor tree saw me at my very worst.
Every kid deserves a chance to make a few stupid mistakes. And while I understand local law enforcement’s eagerness to make an example of the President’s daughters, I very much doubt that ticketing Jenna for having a couple of drinks is going to do much to curb the scourge of underage drinking in America.
If you can carry a gun for your country, you can hoist a beer
Perhaps some good will come out of all this. Maybe Jenna, despite her apparent distaste for the press, will become a sort of symbol of the idiocy of our drinking laws. Ostensibly Jenna could join ROTC okay, it would probably be the National Guard and then be shipped off to fight a UN-sponsored war. When she’s finished fighting for the day, can she have a beer? Sure, if she’s overseas. But not on U.S. soil. It’s an old argument, but it still resonates, once you get over the deep unlikelihood of the idea of Jenna Bush joining the military.
This is not a story of self-promoting celebrities. The Bush twins never had a choice about submitting themselves to the national rumor mill. I very much doubt their father would have curbed his political aspirations just because his daughters weren’t particularly comfortable having their pictures taken and hearing that their inauguration outfits were a little dowdy.
Is that Chelsea with a Cosmopolitan in her hand?
We never heard about Chelsea Clinton drinking. Chelsea may never have touched a drink until she was 21, although on a campus with as active a social life as Stanford’s, that seems highly unlikely. What’s more likely is that Chelsea had a few years to learn the ways of the press before embarking on her own. The press more or less left her alone while Chelsea was in high school and more surprisingly, they extended their hands-off policy when she left for school in California. Had she worked out some kind of agreement with the press? Was her Secret Service detail more sympathetic than Jenna’s?
Yes, the Bush girls have had plenty of time in the spotlight, both as daughters of the governor and as members of the Bush clan. But none of the local press’s gentle pawing could have prepared them for the savagery of the national feeding frenzy.
And while Jenna seems rather foolishly intent on making the same mistake again and again, it’s not exactly a national disaster. She’s not doing anything dangerous, or even anything particularly embarrassing. She’s simply engaging in a time-honored ritual: thumbing her nose at the authority figures in her life. Unfortunately for Jenna, her authority figures happen to live in the White House.