I've never been fascinated much by the children of celebrities. Famous-by-Osmosis is not an impressive skill, just a few steps above getting good TV ratings by following the Super Bowl.
So, I've never cared whether The Bush Twins went to Iraq. It's not their fault their father lied the country into his war. If they want to keep out of public attention, that is their right.
However, to paraphrase Tom Lehrer, if Jenna Bush wants privacy, the least she can do is keep quiet.
It's bad enough that in the midst of a war her father started, where 3,829 Americans have died, Ms. Bush insists on puddle-hopping around the country blithely hawking her book. While marketing a product is understandable, common decency and good sense says that if you don't want to flaunt your lack of military service during your father's war, you shouldn't go begging for attention. ($18.99 at fine purveyors everywhere.)
Of course, common decency and good sense do not seem in deep supply in this family, so it's not reasonable to expect much to be passed down.
But that's only one thing. It gets much worse.
Because it's another thing entirely to yammer how noble that war is, and give disingenuous and wildly-inaccurate public statements. At that point, you've not only begged for the attention, you've opened the door, welcomed it in and offered it cheese dip and comfortable slippers.
Ms. Bush chose of her own, adult free will to sit down with Time magazine and answer questions submitted by the public. She didn't have to. She wanted the attention. One question was - "If the war in Iraq is so noble, why aren't you and your sister serving our country there?"
She chose to reply, and began her response that "there are many ways to serve our country, and I think my skills are better suited for teaching and representing the U.S. in Latin America through UNICEF."
Swell, but it doesn't answer the question. Of course there are many ways to serve our country. She could have become a TSA checker at airports, confiscating toothpaste. It's great that she's done work for UNICEF -- kudos. Except you aren't representing the U.S. at all, but rather you're representing the United Nations. Big difference. Further, saying this is like those people during Viet Nam who insisted they were protecting Alabama in the National Guard. (The ones who didn't go AWOL, that is.) Again -- kudos. But everyone knew it wasn't quite the same as trudging through rice paddies. Or being shot at when commanding a Swift Boat.
So, yes, serving in UNICEF is an extremely good thing, even if it's not service to the U.S. But it doesn't answer the question - if the war is so noble, why aren't you supporting it in the military?
That leads to the worse, second part of her answer. The part that demanded a response.
"But if people really thought about it," she said, "they would know it's not even a practical question."
I took Jenna Bush at her word. I really thought about it. And here's the thing -- it's not only completely practical, there's significant precedent.
By the way, if Jenna Bush really wants to "serve our country," no one says it has to be in combat. She could have a desk job at the Pentagon. She could be a recruiting officer at colleges. Or inspect military bases outside sunny San Diego. All practical and perfectly safe. But even that doesn't touch on why her glib answer was so disingenuous and wrong.
Because it maligns those who did otherwise.
In World War II, when the United States was fighting an actual global war, Elliot Roosevelt -- son of then-President Franklin Roosevelt -- not only served in the military as a bombardier in the Air Force, flying a P-38 Lighting in the North African campaign -- he was also an Army photo reconnaissance pilot involved with the D-Day landings.
Oh, and he eventually became a Brigadier General.
Or what about during Viet Nam? Chuck Robb, son-in-law to then-President Lyndon Johnson, served two tours, and got awarded the Bronze Star. Quite impractical of him. He later became a Governor. And Senator. So, happily it worked out OK.
You don't think that was practical, Ms. Bush? Or that everyone around him was in harm's way? If you want to talk noble, look there. If you want to talk practical, look there. If you want to talk heroic, look there. If you don't want to serve in the military, that's fine -- it's really fine -- but then Don't Talk.
It does help to know history before you speak. Then again, if the Bush family understood history, we might not be in Iraq, keeping far away of the country's 600-year civil war.
But if history's too hard, there's always current events.
Because although England decided not to send Prince Harry to Iraq, he was nonetheless serving in the military at the time. The equivalent of a 2nd Lieutenant. Oh, and his uncle Prince Andrew, he was a helicopter pilot during the Falklands War. Man, talk about impractical.
Once again, to be clear, Jenna Bush has no obligation to serve in the military. Zero. None. Nor even to answer questions.
If you're not going to serve in the military -- and if your father started the war -- and you do choose to speak, have respect for those who do serve by not yowling about nobility and that you've supposedly served the U.S. in a non-U.S. organization, while traipsing around on a book tour, posing for glam magazine covers and claiming it would be impractical to be in the military in any capacity when history -- and current events -- show it's been done. Repeatedly. Successfully. Heroically.
Jenna Bush truly has no need to serve in the U.S. military. But the least she can do if she doesn't want to be criticized is not shove it in everyone else's face. And learn history.