Mrs. Bush's speech, which seemed designed to loosen up the stuffy evangelical Christian image as the Washington press corps worries about a new American ayatollah under every bed, brought to mind the last feeble attempt to loosen up the Bush family image: the Bush daughters' clunky introduction of their father at the Republican convention in New York last summer.
True to the pattern, Barbara and Jenna Bush mocked their grandma for reportedly disapproving of the HBO stink bomb "Sex and the City," which was yesterday's loose-women flashpoint of TV trash. Grandma didn't like their clothes, or music, or favorite TV shows, so "Gammie, we love you dearly, but you're not very hip." By contrast, the girls endorsed their parents as "cool," insisting they knew the difference between "mono and Bono," and knew that Outkast was a rap group, not a "bunch of misfits."
It's never a bad idea for parents to be tuned into what the popular culture is offering, but there's a difference between knowing something and wallowing in it. Parents need to be knowledgeable and discriminating about the culture their youngsters consume, prepared unequivocally to condemn lust without borders, violence without conscience or language that assaults the ears.
By contrast with the Chippendales comedy routine, the First Lady gives a completely different impression in the May issue of Ladies' Home Journal, explaining how she tried to bring up her daughters by showing them her own self-discipline, by taking them to church and, even now, by taking care of her mother, who has moved into a retirement home.
America is grateful for a president and first lady who lead lives that don't look anything like "Desperate Housewives." The Bush family now needs to resist the urge to pander to Hollywood for political gain, and focus more attention on the growing American majority horrified by what that industry is teaching their children nightly.