Dear Jenna Bush:
We read last week that you are engaged. We wish you and your longtime beau Henry Hager happiness and continued sobriety.
Hey, while we’re on that angle… don’t you think the most clear-headed thing you and Hank could do is to refuse to have a White House wedding? Right after your Mom’s office announced your engagement there was a lot of speculation about that. We’re not so sure it’s a good idea.
All things considered, we think you owe it to the American people not to draw your father away from his chores for a wedding. And by “chores” I mean doing the math on his approval ratings, ignoring the tumbling economy, wading through the pile of resignations on his desk, and of course, the war.
Some folks will think it’s good for the country to see at least one happy event, like a wedding, come out of this White House. Certainly the photo ops might lighten the mood, similar to the time during Vietnam that LBJ picked his dog up by the ears. Or that photo in a recent New York Times showing Stalin hugging a little girl that he later sent off to a gulag.
But a White House wedding at this moment in history is bound to be rife with complications. Will any Democrats show up? If so, will anybody think it’s funny if they sit left of everybody else? Will they toast your father when the best man points to your wedding ring and jokes “Mission Accomplished!?”
Then let’s say that for positive PR the staff invites some Hurricane Katrina survivors. Will it be wise to have them spend the night in the White House? What if they never leave because their homes are gone and the trailer they were promised still hasn’t been delivered?
Then there’s the minute-to-minute stuff you’ll have to monitor, such as Alberto Gonzales firing four of the six musicians in the band because they refuse to play any Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Or Cheney citing “executive privilege” as he eats the biggest piece of wedding cake… the one with the fat frosting roses on it. Or Karl Rove revealing that your new husband is a CIA agent. Revealing it of course by phone from his compound in the Bahamas.
If most of your Dad’s staff and true believers have jumped ship before your wedding, we doubt that the ones newly hired as campaign strategists will return for a ceremony where, even by accident, they’re photographed next to “El Sinko GOP in ’08.”
But here’s your biggest headache: How to effectively communicate that your White House wedding is a happy day for the nation when so many young people who were married or engaged or were one day hoping to be married… have been killed in your father’s bungled invasion of Iraq under false pretenses. Out of respect for the way your family deals with war, we won’t cite the number of Iraqi (or as Grandpa would say “Panamanian”) civilians killed or even mention those Iraqi weddings that were bombed by US planes. Let’s keep those numbers out of the papers.
True, you could invite some distinguished war veterans to the wedding and exploit them once more just like your father does during his State of the Union addresses. But there’s still going to be that context problem: Why does the President’s daughter get to have the wonderful special day that was denied to so many of those killed in Iraq?
War is hell, and the hell of this one is that it’s going to deny you the extra cream sauce ladled on a White House wedding. However, your delayed but sensible wedding could well be the opening salvo in the revisionism of your father’s blood-soaked years in office. Jenna, your wedding could be a big part of that surge.