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Published: Tuesday, 6/5/2001

Let's cut party girl some slack

Is it because I live in the same place Rob Croak does that I fail to be so terribly shocked - shocked! - at the Jenna Bush margarita allegations?


The mix of college kids 'n' booze is not much of a stunner in a city where the best live-music bars in town (Mr. Croak's) suffer from an allegedly long-running enthusiasm for supplying thirsty, if underaged, kids.

So, yeah, that's one reason I don't register dismay.

That, and the fact that I too was once 19.

Oh, come on. So were you.

Good thing our daddies weren't ever Leader of the Free World.

There are sooooo many reasons to squint with festering disapproval at George W. Bush, but his daughter's alleged tequila appreciation isn't one of them.

At least the girl had her own designated drivers, otherwise known as Secret Service agents. So what if they're on the public payroll? We only wish all college drinkers could make such public-safety-minded arrangements.

OK, granted, it wasn't so long ago that Miss Bush pleaded no contest to an underage-drinking charge.

That case ended in $50 worth of costs and a court order that the college student put in eight hours of community service and six hours of “alcohol awareness” class, which is probably cousin to that Nancy Reagan “Just Say No” campaign except, you know, updated for the New Century.

And yes, we recognize this incident is rich in its own potential irony.

If, for example, Miss Bush is convicted this time, and if she should for whatever Cuervo-based reason find her young self again accepting a salt-rimmed glass from an accommodating bartender - well, she'd fall to the same zero tolerance, three-strikes-you're-jailed policy signed into law by a certain former Texas governor whom she simply calls “dad.”

But give a girl a break, why don't you?

Sure, that's been hard to do, since the outcry from the conservative wing of the GOP has in these past few days become deafeningly hard to ignore.

“Where are the parents?” they demand to know. “It all begins with the parents! Respect for law and authority has to start in the home!”

Or they say: “The apple never falls far from the tree, does it?”

There have been rousing cries for the Bush family to embrace “personal responsibility,” and for Jenna's parents to demonstrate their understanding of the crucial importance of “accountability.”

Piffle, I say.

If this latest allegation is about anything, it's more about this country's squeamish hypocrisy about alcohol. Or, to put it another way: Here's yet another thing the French (who don't think twice about serving the children diluted wine at dinner) don't understand about us.

Even moderation scares us. Only complete abstinence lets us sleep peacefully at night. We're the people who layer moral overtones atop everything. Hey, remember us? We're the people afraid of food.

Look, Jenna Bush is young. So she knocked back a few.

Give the girl a break.

It's not as if she's plowing through her undergrad years in complete party-girl mode - earning little else but hangovers and Cs - and thereby damaging her unlimited potential.

Roberta de Boer's column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays,

and Saturdays. Email her at roberta@theblade.com or call 1-419-724-6086.

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