I was watching Larry King last week and happened to catch the segment with guests Laura and Jenna Bush. They were there promoting their new children’s book, Read All About It. I haven’t really followed the Bush children. Except for the news stories over the years when they were doing their teenage acting out, there really hasn’t been much coverage. It’s restricted and that is as it should be.
So I was surprised at how disarmingly charming Jenna Bush was. She wasn’t smooth or slick. She didn’t even seem media-trained (and that’s something I know a lot about) though she certainly does have a good mentor in her mother in that regard. A giveaway was that during the interview, her eyes frequently darted to the goings on about the studio, while her head remained pointed toward Larry King. Yet, when it was her turn to speak she seemed comfortable. She was clearly passionate about her topic – the book is about a boy who hates to read – and her career. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Bush is a teacher. She was (mostly) poised and even initially used the honorific, "Sir," when addressing Larry King.
That led me to thinking: what does this communicate, not only about this young woman, but also about her parents? To raise a child in this day and age is a huge challenge. To do it with the constant media scrutiny and klieg light glare that are continuously trained on the White House, seems nearly impossible. Yet, all the children that I have observed growing up in such challenging circumstances have turned out well. Lest anyone feel sorry for her, however, Ms. Bush was sure to note how extraordinarily advantaged she is.
Despite how I may feel about the job the President is doing, he has done well in this one, very important area. Of course, it seems safe to assume Mrs. Bush has done most of the heavy lifting. Still, there is a father in the house and it does say something quite positive about him. It's something he can use right about now.
Jenna Bush reflects well on her parents. While it would be crass to label the raising of a successful child as just another tool in the toolkit, you take these kinds of "compliments" where you can get them.
Ruth Sherman • Ruth Sherman Associates LLC • High-Stakes Communications • Greenwich, CT