Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Let's Hear It For The Girls, Let's Give The Girls A Hand

Last night, Jenna and Barbara Bush, the president's 22-year-old twin daughters, joked and said they were not very political but couldn't sit out their father's final campaign - and they have caught a lot of hell for it. Real Clear Politics - which is usually excellent - positively huffs:

The Bush twins were a disaster. I just don't know how to put it any other way. After the first couple of jokes I winced. After a couple of more I was begging them to stop. They didn't.

The litany of jokes they told were, in my opinion, both juvenile and inappropriate. Even worse, the twins reflected badly on the President, reinforcing the worst possible stereotype of the ditsy, slacker daughters of a C-student fratboy from Yale. My jaw literally hit the floor when Jenna Bush said: 'Since we've graduated from college, we're looking around for something to do for the next few years. Kind of like Dad.'

I'm sorry, but whoever wrote that line should be dragged to the guillotine at noon today. . . .

Amy Sullivan positively seethes from the pages of the Washington Monthly:

Bill Kristol: 'The last half hour did not help, as far as I can tell, Bush's campaign for reelection.'

Mort Kondracke: 'Those two girls were ditzes. I'm surprised they were allowed on the program.'

Fred Barnes: 'I think she [Laura] had no place up there or the daughters either. . . . Their mother said they'll be pursuing their own careers. I would advise them to look in some field other than comedy.'

Now I don't think that anyone -- anyone -- casts their vote based on the family of the candidate. And that goes for people who really don't like Teresa, too. But it's gotta be pretty bad when the message discipline breaks down like this at Fox News.

Although he doesn't personally criticize the twins, Howard Kurtz is happy to carry the water for the dousing.

With all due respect for such worthies as Ms. Sullivan and Messrs. Bevan, Kristol, Barnes, Kondracke and Kurtz, their comments seem to me to be as completely off base as the early pundit praise of John Kerry's ludicrously inept and ineffective acceptance speech. Maybe I just have a weakness for two highly attractive young women who obviously genuinely love their dad, but I thought the twins accomplished their likely mission quite well.

What was that likely mission? They were supposed to be not to the liking of those such as Ms. Sullivan and Messrs. Bevan, Kristol, Barnes, Kondracke and Kurtz. The twins were supposed to show that young people of good heart have a place in the Republican Party even if they are given bad material to read and don't follow the script, anyway.

Why on earth would the Bush-Cheney campaign want such a thing? After all, in Boston John Kerry's daughters Alexandra and Vanessa had been much more polished - one might say, Stepfordized, like all of the Democratic delegates. Maybe the plasticized personalities evidenced by Alexandra and Vanessa there have something to do with their receiving boos outweighing anything close to cheers at the annual MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS, with the reaction turning worse when the Kerry daughters asked the VIACOM youth to vote for their father.

In other words, maybe what the Kerry daughters did and was done with them is a campaign's nightmare.

Kerry supporter Andrew Sullivan is shocked - shocked - to see interest group politics rearing a Republican head:

How to convey the spectacular incoherence of last night's continuing infomercial for the re-election of George W. Bush? ... The speakers were designed to target certain demographic and interest groups, just as the Democrats used to. The notion that these things are best left to the private sector, or that spending needs to be slashed in the wake of rising debt, or that the race of a speaker is irrelevant: all these are now Republican heterodoxy.

Mr. Sullivan is exactly right on one point: the various speakers at the Republican convention are there not to show the world that the Republican Party agrees with - or approves of - everything the speaker believes or says, but that there is room to welcome into the Republican Party people who believe or say such things.

And I can't think of anything more constructive than telling the world that the Republican Party is wide open to young women - even somewhat awkward, unpolished, genuine, fun, young women of good heart - especially when they don't perform like Stepford daughters.

Put aside all the pundit huffing. Does the reader think it would be fun to spend some time with those two young women? - you know, really fun, maybe even the kind of fun that makes you glad to be alive? Or maybe the reader prefers to spend time with goody-two-shoes types who are always on the best behavior?

Are goody-two-shoe types more likely to get booed at MTV events?

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