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Fair Game

The honest and decent side of me would like to say that attacking a president's alcoholic, brain-addled daughters is no way to engage in political debate. On the other hand, it's the president and his supporters who've decided to make his "character" -- his personal qualities and attributes rather than the nitty-gritty policy details -- the centerpiece of the case for his reelection. So, though rarely is the question asked, I think it must be: who raised these two? We know Bush isn't a policy wonk. We know he doesn't work particularly long hours. Fine. In many ways, being a workaholic is not a particularly admirable character trait. But has Bush spent any of his time off spending time with his daughters and trying to instill them with any values? Are they God-fearing Christians like GWB? What is it, exactly, that Laura gave up her high-flying career at the library in order to do?

And yeah, yeah, yeah, they're only 22. But I'm only 23. Rosenfeld's 22, and he's not a lunatic. Ezra's 20, Zoe's 21 -- the Bush twins aren't "kids" in the sense of "people too young to be held accountable for their basic lack of decency and good sense," they're college graduates, they have the vote, they're full-fledged members of American society.

September 1, 2004 | Permalink


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» It's the family values, stupid from The Bellman

A commenter on Matthew Ygelsias’ blog wrote:

The contrast between Chelsea Clinton and the Bush children is instructive.

[Read More]

Tracked on Sep 1, 2004 5:22:42 PM

» Newsflash from Kalblog
Rule Three of the Leadership Institute's Rules of the Public Policy Process: Don't get mad except on purpose. I thought about getting mad when Matthew Yglesias went after Bush's children's speech last night as a sign of Bush's problems. Even... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 1, 2004 6:45:26 PM

» Stupid is the new charming from Majikthise
Read the full text of the Bush twins' speech. Read Wonkette. Snicker. Weep. Repeat. The terrifying thing is that the twins were supposed to be like that. What was Rove thinking? Why would he send the Bush twins to brag [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 1, 2004 7:09:01 PM


"high-flying career at the library"

Very classy MY.

Posted by: piraeus | Sep 1, 2004 4:19:38 PM

What the hell has happened to this place?

Take a vacation. Because you're coming across as the stereotypical Dalton/Harvard kid. Library workers are scorned b/c their yearly take-home is less than tuition at Dalton. I'd rethink your maturity level at 23 and what you say as compared to what Jenna/Barbara say.

Posted by: hoo | Sep 1, 2004 4:24:57 PM

It is my understanding* that they also draw a paycheck from the campaign. Am I mistaken? The figure I saw bandied about was 100k.

So rather than being young, innocent girls, here we have two incompetent, overpaid campaign workers.

Fair game, indeed.

*meaning I likely read it on some blog comment somewhere and that guy pulled it out of their nether regions.

Posted by: Chance the Gardener | Sep 1, 2004 4:26:01 PM

Not to mention people their age are getting blown up and shot daily in Iraq. It's 18-24 year olds who do most of the dying in wars.

Posted by: some guy | Sep 1, 2004 4:29:30 PM

They're still in their "lost years". According to Bush family tradition, they don't have to act mature until they turn 40.

Posted by: dmm | Sep 1, 2004 4:31:02 PM

considering how much scruitiny kerry is going through for his activity when he was in his twenties, the question is hardly unfair...

Posted by: nsf | Sep 1, 2004 4:31:41 PM

With Laura Bush's defense of the Swift Boat slanderers, we have long past the point in this election where personal attacks (er, I mean discussions of character) need be defended.

The contrast between Chelsea Clinton and the Bush children is instructive. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Posted by: epistemology | Sep 1, 2004 4:32:20 PM

It's hardly unfair for someone in his early 20s to point out that Jenna and Barbara are giving a bad name to his entire demographic.

Soft bigotry of low expectations, anyone? They're adults. Why don't we expect them to act like adults?

Posted by: Constantine | Sep 1, 2004 4:33:29 PM

I don't think that you are being fair.

Jenna and Barbara (they must hate being called "the Bush twins") were not speaking, they were reading lines.

Specifically, they were reading lines from someone who thought that the youth vote could be captured if they sounded like Beevis and Butthead, only stupider.

I'm not saying that they are deep thinkers, I refer to them and "Jenna and Tonic", but look at the setup. They didn't write the speech, they were given the speech.

I feel pity for them, and admiration for Chelsea, who bore up under much worse at a much younger age.

Posted by: Matthew Saroff | Sep 1, 2004 4:33:43 PM

Having met Barbara -- who is a nice girl even if she is a bit shallow and likes to party too much -- I do feel bad about all this bashing.

Posted by: praktike | Sep 1, 2004 4:37:31 PM

There's a 22 year old named Sam Rosenfeld?

Sounds more like a retired, ex-accountant living in the planned community of Del Boca Vista, Florida, who's wife voted for Pat Buchanan by mistake in 2000.

/Yes, I know - everyone's 22 at some point.

Posted by: SoCalJustice | Sep 1, 2004 4:38:24 PM

"say that attacking a president's alcoholic"

Are you trying to say that the Bush daughters are alcoholics? Really? Is that really your best position?

News flash. Alcoholic is a specific term. Look it up, for example:


Having a drink, even occasionally getting drunk, (yes, even when ~gasp~ underage) doesn't make oneself a drunk.

Frankly, you bash on the Bush daughters for having for this character flaw when it wouldd be just as easy for anyone to bash you for chronic cursing, swearing, profanity, and outright uncivility towards unanyone of an opposing political viewpoint. I wonder how you'd survive in a European country with 15, 20, or even 30 "serious" political factions.

Really, Matthew, what's going on... you seem a bit crankier than usual.

Posted by: dan heskett | Sep 1, 2004 4:40:02 PM

Best analysis I have read so far

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Sep 1, 2004 4:43:21 PM

...but you have to admit, they're a couple of hot Betties.

Posted by: Bgno64 | Sep 1, 2004 4:43:47 PM

My problem isn't that Barbara and Jenna were embarrassed by some hack speechwriter...it's that they don't think enough of their dad and his role to write their own fucking speeches. These aren't dumb girls (well the jury's still out on Jenna) and they surely have some sense of their father's presidency and how qualities in him that they grew up with are reflected in his performance thus far.

Either they really are so self-absorbed that they think that how they act doesn't reflect back upon their parents (particularly to Republicans, who have a collective tendency to see personal failings as a father and husband as somehow indicative of ability to govern), or they hate them so much that they won't even try to campaign seriously for the nebulous "youth vote."

I miss Chelsea.

Posted by: omphale | Sep 1, 2004 4:45:29 PM

Matthew Saroff, it wasn't only the incredibly bad script the girls read from. It was also the completely immature attitude they brought with it. They giggled and whispered to each other within range of the microphone and dressed moderately inappropriately for the occasion.

Compare this to Cate Edwards who is the same age as the Bush twins yet managed to speak prepared remarks without making an ass out of herself. It's not asking for a lot that 22 year old college graduates with every advantage in the world, who have volunteered to put themselves into this campaign be held to a standard of taste and etiquette at a major party convention broadcast live nationwide. It isn't like they did this routine at some fundraiser afterall.

Posted by: UofAZGrad | Sep 1, 2004 4:45:36 PM

Another ad hominem attack post by Matthew with exactly ZERO supporting evidence.

Sheesh, you would think that at Harvard they would teach him that, in order to make an effective argument, you need to present AT LEAST ONE piece of evidence to support your case.

So, Matthew, I'm curious, when you say:

But has Bush spent any of his time off spending time with his daughters and trying to instill them with any values?

I'm trying to determine which, exactly, values you think they lack. Are you asserting that they lack values because they drink in college? Or are you asserting that they lack values because they told bad jokes at the convention? Those are the only possible pieces of evidence at all I can adduce from your post. Neither seems to me to have anything to do with a lack of "values", but you wrote the post - you tell us.

Posted by: Al | Sep 1, 2004 4:46:54 PM

They're not alcoholics. They're drunks.

Alcoholics go to meetings.

Posted by: Anonymous | Sep 1, 2004 4:48:13 PM

...but you have to admit, they're a couple of hot Betties.

I'm too damn old.

It's been about 10 years since I wanted to go to bed with stupid women.

Correction: It's been about 10 years since I wanted to WAKE UP with stupid women.

Of course, I still am attracted to (and married) the crazy ones.

Then again, going out with me is not a demonstration of a high level of sanity.

Posted by: Matthew Saroff | Sep 1, 2004 4:49:19 PM

Frankly, you bash on the Bush daughters for having for this character flaw when it wouldd be just as easy for anyone to bash you for chronic cursing, swearing, profanity, and outright uncivility towards unanyone of an opposing political viewpoint.
Dan wrote just what I was thinking. You might rethink the idea of exalting your maturity when it seems you cannot comment apart from profanity.

I can answer Dan's question about the crankiness. It seems Matthew is realizing that not only is Kerry facing a rout, but one which will probably drag several Senators down with him.

Then again..maybe your constant profanity is justified.

Posted by: Steve_in_Corona | Sep 1, 2004 4:49:39 PM

I wasn't clear.

Not only was the speech written by someone trying to do Bevis and Butthead, they were coached by that guy too.

Posted by: Matthew Saroff | Sep 1, 2004 4:50:15 PM

Another ad hominem attack post by Matthew...

This is not an ad hominem attack. It is a discussion of personal character and leadership qualities.

Posted by: Constantine | Sep 1, 2004 4:51:08 PM

Well, I'm glad all the fucktard Republican speech nannies are in agreement that bad words are bad.

Don't you pricks have somewhere else to troll?

Posted by: Ras_Nesta | Sep 1, 2004 4:53:04 PM

Okay, can we get off the alcoholic thing? They're from Texas for Chrissake, and they're 22. They are allowed to get drunk for many years without being classified as alcoholics.

Matt's pointing out that they have no apparent concern for their father's reputation (as in fact have many prior examples of presidential progeny).

Now that I think about it, that speech and the "e-mail" they "sent" out a little while back, aren't actually aimed at the youth voters (unless we're trying to get out the "Jenna's really hot, and seems kind of easy, if I vote for her dad, maybe she'll sleep with me" contingent), but are aimed at those people with all those nice "American" values we hear about who would really rather prominent women be self-effacing to their prominent mates. Cue the Bush twins, future society wives.

Posted by: omphale | Sep 1, 2004 4:54:49 PM

Who cares.

Posted by: abb1 | Sep 1, 2004 4:56:25 PM

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