First Family Values

Subject: The Bush Twins

I got into a heated argument with a friend about the Bush twins and whether they are fair game for the public discussion by the press? What if one of them is a lesbian? (I don’t know this––I’m just imagining it as a hypothetical). Wouldn’t it matter considering Bush’s implied support of a federal marriage amendment barring gays from marriage? I have thought more about this since the State of the Union address. I know that many people are focused on Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of Dick Cheney. You have written on her. But what about the Bush twins? Shouldn’t the media focus more on them and on their personal lives?

Re: The Bush Twins

Hell, yes! Actually, the social lives of Jenna and Barbara Bush matter whether they’re straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, questioning, two-spirited, or virgins sent down from heaven above.

The children of presidents are typically off-limits to the press, particularly if they’ve been shielded from the press and don’t use their fame as a way to seek attention or special privilege. But the Bush twins––who caused a brouhaha a few years ago when they were caught drinking a couple of times while underage––are not children. They are adults now, attending college––Barbara goes to Yale, Jenna attends the University of Texas at Austin. They’re also going out to quite a few parties, including in Hollywood and other swanky locales.

Heartthrob Ashton Kutcher told Rolling Stone last year about the time when the Bush twins came to his house for a late night party, left the Secret Service outside and went to an upstairs bedroom, where a few partiers were getting high.

“The Bushes were underage-drinking at my house,” he told the magazine. “When I checked outside, one of the Secret Service guys asked me if they’d be spending the night. I said no. And then I go upstairs to see another friend and I can smell the green wafting out under his door. I open the door, and there he is, smoking out the Bush twins on his hookah.”

George W. Bush is a president who pontificates ad-nauseum about “traditional family values,” the “choices” children make––most recently about drug use––and the “sanctity of marriage,” among other things. The Bush twins have every right to say they don’t agree with their father, the president––just as Patti Davis and Ron Reagan Jr. spoke out against their father, Ronald Reagan. Instead, the Bush twins seem to want to avoid political and cultural issues entirely, wafting around with not a care in the world. We all have responsibilities, and I’m sorry, when you’re a daughter of the president of the United States, you have further responsibilities thrust upon you, as unfair as that may seem.

According to Washington Post reporter Ann Gerhart, in her new biography of Laura Bush, “The Perfect Wife: The Life and Choices of Laura Bush,” the Bush twins are still deeply engaged in “adolescent rebellions” and seem oblivious to their father’s life and politics and to the conditions within our country.

“They have not appeared engaged in any of the pressing issues their generation will inherit,” Gerhart writes, “nor shown empathy for the struggles facing their mother and their father, the president of the United States. They have not treated with respect their Secret Service details, those highly trained men and women who literally would take a bullet for them… They are girls blessed with intelligence, good looks, trust funds, loving parents, boundless opportunities, and freedom from many of life’s daily vexing challenges. Yet they persist in seeing themselves as victims of their daddy’s job, subtly encouraged by their mother.”

“Victims” that they might be, we all have crosses to bear. The Bush twins’ cross is that they are party girls whose father is sucking up to the Christian right, pushing a moralistic lifestyle on everyone but his own daughters–who are portrayed in Gerhart’s book as having been brought up permissively. As Bush continues to push “abstinence-only” programs and the “sanctity of marriage”––promoting the idea that only sex within marriage is acceptable––would it be relevant and newsworthy if his own daughters are having pre-marital sex, whether it is heterosexual or homosexual? You better believe it is!

In fact, since the State of the Union address, where Bush put these ideas into an actual plan for the nation as he heads into his re-election campaign, his own family’s actions are even more relevant. Barbara and Jenna could always negate the media scrutiny by standing up and saying they don’t agree with their father on issues such as premarital sex, homosexuality, recreational drug use, marriage and, if it’s the case, even abortion. They choose instead to just duck for cover and continue on in their privileged little existence. As far as I’m concerned, they deserve whatever is coming them––if indeed the media has the spine to point the hypocrisies of the Bush family.

Email Mike Signorile at Mike@Signorile.com.

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