Jenna And Barbara Turn 21

Jenna Bush, left, and her twin sister Barbara, daughters of President Bush, applaud as their mother Laura speaks at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in this July 31, 2000 file photo. AP (file)

President Bush's twin daughters, who have had brushes with the law for underage drinking, turn 21 on Monday, marking their birthday in Texas and looking to stay clear of the spotlight.

Both Barbara Bush, who attends Yale University, and Jenna, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, were in their home state in advance of a Thanksgiving family celebration. The president and first lady planned to celebrate the twins' birthdays during the holiday weekend, a White House official said.

Laura Bush is returning to Texas on Monday and heading to the family ranch in Crawford on Tuesday. The president is to follow on Wednesday.

The White House is fiercely protective of the twins' privacy, and several officials refused to provide details about the birthday observances.

Barbara and Jenna Bush have drawn unwelcome headlines over the past few years for alcohol-related episodes.

In May 2001, police in Austin cited both of them for violating state alcoholic beverage laws.

Police accused Barbara Bush of being a minor in possession of alcohol and Jenna Bush of misrepresenting her age for allegedly trying to use false identification to buy alcohol.

Jenna Bush allegedly ordered a margarita and was asked to produce identification proving she was 21. She showed a valid driver's license belonging to someone else, police said. She was not served.

Witnesses told police that Barbara Bush was served alcohol.

The charges were dismissed after the then-19-year-old twins performed community service, attended alcohol awareness classes and paid $100 in fines.

The month before that incident, Jenna Bush had pleaded no contest to charges of underage drinking. She was ordered to take alcohol counseling and perform community service. A judge fined her $500 and suspended her license.

Last summer, Jenna Bush reportedly tried to persuade a bartender to sell her a drink, but the bartender asked her to leave after consulting with the Secret Service agents who protect her. Jenna Bush berated her agents and complained to her father about the incident, according to an account in U.S. News and World Report.

Patti Davis, the youngest daughter of former President Reagan, said she empathized with the twins.

After their 21st birthday, "They will no longer be afforded any mercy or consideration for their age by the press. They will become fair game to the country's preoccupation with the private lives of public people," Davis wrote in the Los Angeles Times.

"When anyone turns 21, there are the obligatory words and phrases that come with the territory: 'responsibility,' 'appropriate behavior,' 'maturity,"' said Davis. "When you're a member of the first family, the words are said by a greater number of people and hurled at you with more velocity. "

She had some advice for the Bush twins.

"No matter what people say, there isn't anyone alive who really believes he or she could live under the first family spotlight and not blow it sometimes," Davis said. "Remember that there are no rules, no codes, for being a member of the first family - even the founding fathers didn't tackle that one. Remember, everyone is a work in progress."


By Scott Lindlaw
  • Francie Grace

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