The Other Twins
As parents, the Bushes appear to have succeeded.


Susan Konig

I recently wrote a piece praising Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen and, next thing you know, one of them ended up in rehab. I stick by my belief that these actresses have had largely a positive influence on young girls to date and I wish them the best of luck in solving the issues in their personal lives.

Now, as for those other twins–the Bush girls–they seem pretty nice, too.

On Friday, the president’s daughters held an online chat session to support their dad’s reelection bid. Their Internet debut coincided with recent appearances on the campaign trail and an interview and pictorial in July’s Vogue magazine.

Barbara and Jenna are making headlines because we’ve seen so little of them until now. Their mom and dad succeeded in getting them through college largely unhindered by the prying eyes of the media, in the same way that Chelsea Clinton was considered off limits during her White House years.

This year is also the first time that these recent college graduates have been out of school while their dad was campaigning so they are rarin’ to join President Bush’s final campaign. The 22-year-olds say, “Our father is the perfect person to be the President of the United States.”

The Kerry daughters are out there, too, making their dad seem more lovable. But Alexandra and Vanessa Kerry, career women at ages 30 and 27 respectively, don’t have the same draw (see-through dresses aside) as the newly adult Bush twins. After all, Jenna and Barbara’s mom and dad have lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the past three and a half years and the girls just gave their very first interviews.

As for those brushes with the law for underage drinking, even the Kerry girls allowed the first daughters some slack. In a recent interview, Vanessa told USA Today: “I can’t imagine being 18, going to college and having your dad be elected president. There has to be room for people to make mistakes and live their own lives.”

Online, Jenna and Barbara spoke of their admiration for their dad, especially after September 11. They want young people to be interested enough to vote even though they can understand that college kids are “already very busy with schoolwork, friends, athletics and hanging out.”

They revealed that their mom has “a great record collection” and that they enjoy listening to everything from Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff to the Strokes and Modest Mouse. I don’t believe Modest Mouse was in Mrs. Bush’s collection.

In their unique position as first children, they found out that Vaclav Havel “loves the Rolling Stones” and Tony Blair and Vladimir Putin both have “a great sense of humor.” They realize how privileged they are to be going to the Olympics in Greece with the American delegation this summer before they return to continue working for their father’s reelection.

Unlike the Olsen sisters, the time these other twins have spent out of the limelight has been a boon. Due to the diligence of their mother, who has been carefully watching out for them since their dad became governor of Texas, Jenna and Barbara were allowed to reach maturity and step into the political arena as blossoming adults.

Susan Konig, a journalist, has just written a book, Why Animals Sleep So Close to the Road (And Other Lies I Tell My Children), which will be published in Spring 2005.


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