Living your life according to your own values is a challenge for everyone, and must be a special challenge if you happen to be the president. No one thinks that the president should have to give up a child to prove that his family is as serious about freedom as these other families he praises. But it would be reassuring to see a little struggle here—some sign that the Bush family truly believes that American soldiers are dying for our freedom, and it's worth it. Who knows? Maybe they have had huge arguments about this. Maybe George and Laura wanted the girls to join the Red Cross, or the Peace Corps, or do something that would at least take them off the party circuit for a couple of years. And perhaps the girls said no. But I doubt this scenario, don't you?
At first it seemed like a brilliant strategy—repellent, but brilliant—to isolate most Americans from the cost of the war in Iraq. It's starting to seem a lot less so. As the deaths and injuries mount, more and more people are touched by the war—and become understandably resentful of those who are not. Bush, in his speeches, is eloquent about what no one doubts—the sacrifice—but banal about what most people have come to doubt: the purpose.
But no amount of eloquence can overcome the bald contrast between that rhetoric and how his own family lives. His daughters are over 21, and he can't control them, but that doesn't let them off the hook. They are now independent moral actors, and their situation requires that they either publicly oppose their father's war or do something to support it. Is it unfair to expect Jenna and Barbara to shape their lives around their father's folly? Of course it's unfair. If this is war, then unfairness comes with the territory.
Dec 5, 2006
Chickenhawks: The Bush twins
Michael Kinsley attacks President Bush using his daughters as surrogates.