The Bush Twins - Just Regular Girls (Not)
Those of you who have been following the media lately knew that the Bush twins, Jenna and Barbara, have now come out of their cocoon to a degree to campaign for their dad this past weekend. And as you could expect, they got largely positive coverage from the Beltway and fashion media, who collectively managed to forget several well-documented instances where the twins, particularly Jenna has proven quite adept at using fake IDs to get underage drinks from bars while trading on her dad’s job and ordering his Secret Service detail to clean things up for her. But then, wild behavior is not limited just to W’s side of the family tree.
Therefore it should come as no surprise that the recent Vogue magazine story that portrayed the young ladies as well-spoken and well-dressed regular girls raised by good parents was written by a woman who is a decades-long friend of the Bushes who was at a wedding with W in the 70’s where the women “were all crazy for him.” Well, there’s an objective reporter for you.
The author of the Vogue piece, Julia Reed, thinks she portrayed the girls as just folks, don’t you know. Yup, those twins sure look just like normal kids in their clothes and the empty restaurant.
“They’re grown-up, down-to-earth young women,” Reed says. “I liked being with them.”
“I found them to be surprisingly unselfconscious,” Reed says. “They have the best qualities of both parents. They handled themselves with lots of poise.”
And Reed wasn’t about to actually present a complete portrait of the twins.
“It’s been hashed and rehashed so many times,” says Reed. “It’s old news. “Besides,” she says, “there’s no percentage in getting an interview with the daughters of the leader of the free world and dissing them. This is not an exposé of the Bush girls’ activities.”
But she wasn’t about to hit the Bush daughters up about drinking, politics, or issues like abortion rights. “I’m not the Washington Post, frankly,” she says, “and if Robin Givhan wants to ask about these things and gets the chance, let her.”
Givhan, a Post’s style writer, noted Reed’s puff piece treatment of the twins, and points out that no other journalist is likely to get the chance that Reed did between now and the election. And that of course as Givhan notes is the plan; why do real journalism when you can rely on a puff piece in Vogue written by a family friend and the cocoon surrounding the girls so that they are never really asked about their behavior?
What's not to like? The story notes that the daughters' post-graduation plans include Jenna's desire to work for a charter school and Barbara's interest in working with AIDS-afflicted children in Eastern Europe and Africa. Both girls have surrounded themselves with a group of good friends who say such nice things about them that readers might be led to believe these young women have never burped publicly, let alone had a grumpy day.
The story's headline promises that the daughters are about to "give the country a glimpse of who they really are by joining their father on the campaign trail." But those who spend any time on such trails argue that the goal is not to reveal one's real self but a perfectly polished and eloquently scripted facsimile.
The same can be said about making your debut in Vogue. This is not the kind of magazine that traffics in humanizing reality -- one that finds reassurance in warts, foibles and missteps.
But remember, we have a So Called Liberal Media. Remember this the next time you see a negative piece on Kerry's daughters or Edwards' family.