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The Booze Blame Game

The ConWeb has no shortage of folks whose fault it is that the world knows about Jenna Bush's alcohol-related antics. Jenna Bush, however, doesn't seem to be on the list.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 6/7/2001

They simply couldn't ignore it anymore, so the ConWeb -- reluctantly, we're sure -- is providing at least some coverage to the alcohol-related antics of President Bush's daughters.

They are, of course, doing it in their own way, trying to deflect attention from the original allegations of Jenna Bush getting an alcohol-related citation for the second time in a month and attacking the motives of anyone who has brought attention to it.

So, if Jenna Bush isn't getting blamed for her actions, who is?

The bar. A June 2 NewsMax story takes Chuy's, the restaurant/bar that was the scene of Jenna Bush's May 29 attempt to use a fake ID to buy a drink, to task not only for calling 911 on her but also for the fact that a restaurant calendar cites, presumably along with 364 other events, Richard Nixon's 1974 resignation from the presidency as a reason to celebrate there. The inconvenient fact, as ABC News reports, is that Michael Young, co-founder and president of Central Texas Chuy's Inc., has shared more than $11,000 with Republican Senate candidates since 1998.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal believes that a statement issued by Chuy's saying that "usually we wouldn't have handled this in the way it was handled" is an apology, though it argued in April that the Bush administration telling the Chinese government it was "very sorry" twice in order to get that downed plane crew back home wasn't an apology.

The manager. On June 4, the Wall Street Journal quoted a New York Post story that alleges that Mia Lawrence, the Chuy's manager who called 911 on Jenna, "doesn't like the president, so she didn't cut his daughter any slack." The Journal also discusses Lawrence's bankruptcy filing. Why? It is completely irrelevant to the matter at hand. The only possible purpose is intimidation, which it used to be a bad thing when it was accusing the Clinton administration of doing it.

Speaking of intimidation, American Politics Journal reports that the folks at Free Republic are calling for a campaign of intimidation and fraud against Lawrence and Chuy's, including identity theft and vandalism. And Free Republic wonders why most people don't take them seriously.

The police. A June 1 NewsMax story asks: "Did the Austin police look the other way when Chuy's Restaurant served alcohol to an underage Barbara Bush and three of her friends Tuesday night, after the eatery complained that her sister Jenna was carrying a false ID?" After all, it's not their fault they bought alcohol illegally, it's the fault of the police for apparently not immediately doing anything about it.

Ronald Reagan. Huh? It's true. A May 31 CNS story quotes the Libertarian Party (no specific official; the whole party, apparently) as saying that it's Reagan's fault that the Bush twins are criminals. Why? He signed in 1984 a law that forced each state to raise their drinking age from 18 to 21 under threat of loss of federal highway funds. "It's that bill that turned what would have been a perfectly legal activity by a 19-year-old adult into a crime and landed Jenna on the front page of newspapers across the USA as the poster child of College Girls Gone Wild," CNS quotes the party as saying.

The media. Of course. The Media Research Center used a quote from a USA Today story about how obtaining alcohol while underage "is typically treated as a minor offense similar to a ticket for a traffic violation" to go the equivocation route in its June 1 CyberAlert, complaining that the Bush twins got more coverage than the citation of Al Gore III, then-Vice President Gore's 17-year-old son, for speeding (97 mph in a 55 mph zone) in 2000. Of course, the younger Gore didn't get popped twice within a month like Jenna did, and he didn't face the threat that Jenna does of possible jail time because of a get-tough law her father signed into law, due to an alleged third alcohol-related offense.

And you know that anytime the MRC can accuse the media of a liberal bias, you can bet Brent Bozell will be there to whine about it -- and with his June 5 column, he doesn't disappoint.

But really, who ultimatly cares about a vice president's kid getting a speeding ticket? The more accurate parallel would be between the Bush daughters and Chelsea Clinton, who managed not to do anything scandalous while her parents were in office (not that NewsMax didn't try to dig up something). And in case we don't know what would have happened were the shoe on the other foot, Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini reminds us in his June 3 column:

"If the first daughter's name had been Chelsea, every backwater preacher, politician and editorial writer in the land would have declared her brushes with the law a reflection of her parents' questionable morals. Because her name is Jenna, no high-profile, conservative commentator has condemned her mother and father for being so caught up in political affairs that they didn't even notice their girl might have a drinking problem."

Montini continues: "If her name were Chelsea, the 19-year-old's actions would have been declared the predictable result of lax liberal supervision by a couple of left-wingers. ... Because her name is Jenna, her run-ins with the law have been described as the kind of minor infractions committed by many strong-willed and rebellious teenagers. If her name had been Chelsea, those same mistakes would have been called the foreseeable consequences of a liberal political agenda that promotes selfishness over public service and has no respect for the law. In politics, children are punished for the sins of their parents."

If the ConWeb has anything to say about it, Jenna Bush will feel as few consequences from her actions as possible. But fortunately, it's now a matter for the courts, not the ConWeb.

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