#68 - Barbara, Jenna and the spotlight
In the past few weeks we have seen national stories on Jenna Bush getting in trouble with the law twice on alcohol in Texas, and her sister Barbara getting caught this last time. They are both 19, daughters of the president and attending college. The questions come up. Is this a national story? Is Jenna being treated fairly? What should the Secret Service be doing?
The press has grabbed hold of this story. If not the mainstream press, then the check-out line press would run it. Bush's press secretary has asked the press to back off. The Bush's comment is this is a private family matter, the press says these young ladies are adults and are fair game. That sentence may well wrap up this hole story. Are they adults as the press says, or children as the White House says? Our society says we don't know. They are to young to drink, but are adults for military, crimes, marrying, voting, etc. We need to decide when are adults adults. When this argument went around in the early 70s we lowered the drinking age to 18, which would mean they are fine. Then we got on our anti-DUI push and raised age back, but does that really make them any maturer. If we raised drinking age to 50 then we would probably reduce tremendously the DUIs on those under 50, but we have tried that, it was called Prohibition.
Is Jenna being treated fairly? No, but she will probably have to learn to live with it. They were in the restaurant in Texas when this occurred. The manager called the police on Jenna, but served Barbara. What was the difference? He knew Jenna was Bush's daughter because she attends college there. Barbara he did not realize was Bush's daughter because she attends Yale. It appears he was trying to get free publicity for his place off Jenna. This is what Bush had been scared of when he ran. He delayed announcing he was running for concern of daughters. The manager called 911 on her. Was this an emergency? No. Was he really concerned about underage drinking? Apparently not when he did not id Barbara? What should be done? Several suggestions. One, the police should charge the manager with placing non-emergency calls to 911. Two, Jenna's fellow student at the college should organize a boycott of the restaurant for being unfair. They can choose to protect Jenna. Three, the police should conduct underage stings on this restaurant. It appears from his actions that he may be not IDing college students, which may be why they went there to drink.
What should Jenna do? One realize she is stuck in the spotlight by her dad's choosing. Do the best she can in leading a normal life, but be careful. I would not suggest to her as I have heard some commentators that she need to lead a spotless life, avoid any where something questionable may occur until her dad retires. That is unfair to her. This will be her one time in college. Going to parties (alcohol or none) is part of fun. Going to concerts is fun, but some people do drugs there. It seems like every president in recent memory has a close relative the press wants to make the bad boy. Jenna, it looks like you won. She may want to talk to her uncle Neil on how to handle it. He was George's one. Roger Clinton, Billy Carter, Patti Reagan, and Nixon's and Johnson's brothers made the list.
What should the Secret Service have done? Personally I think they did their job. Their job is not parents in absentia. They are there to protect the LIVES of the daughters. As adults the daughters can tell the Secret Service to get lost. This was not a threat to their lives. (Patti's Reagan's date speeding away with her in car was). They can caution the daughters on this, but the daughters must feel comfortable with them around. The agents were in a no-win situation. If they stopped them, then why comments on why butting in their lives, if they just watched as they did ten criticism of why did they not uphold the law. Another question, why did the manager not go to them, since he obviously knew who they were, instead of calling 911, when he had high level legal officers already?
Hopefully in the coming months and years we can learn to balance this, and that Jenna and Barbara can learn to do the best they can in living a LIFE in the fishbowl.
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