Libertarians Blame Federal Drinking Mandate for Jenna Bush's Troubles

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:27 PM EDT

( - The Libertarian Party Thursday had some advice for President Bush about his daughter, Jenna. "Her problem is not the boozing. It's drunk-with-power federal mandates" enacted under former President Ronald Reagan, the party said.

"She is in trouble because in 1984, the federal government, under 'small government conservative' President Ronald Reagan passed the Uniform Drinking Age Act. The bill used federal highway money as blackmail to force states to raise the drinking age from 18 to 21," the Libertarians said in a statement.

"By 1988, every state had complied. It's that bill that turned what would have been a perfectly legal activity by a 19-year-old adult into a crime and landed Jenna on the front page of newspapers across the USA as the poster child of College Girls Gone Wild," it added.

Libertarian Party press secretary George Getz also said, "Federal mandates have turned Uncle Sam into a shaved-head, 300-pound, tattooed bouncer, checking the ID of college students. And federal mandates have turned what should be an embarrassing family matter into a legal matter."

Getz had some advice for President Bush.

"Have a talk with your daughter. Explain to her the potential dangers of drinking too many margaritas. Explain that she must take the consequences for her actions. If you love your daughter, that's your job as a parent," Getz said.

He added, "Then, work to repeal the kind of federal mandate that turned your daughter into a criminal. Allow parents, or state and local governments, to decide when someone is old enough to drink. If you love the Constitution, that's your job as the president."

MADD Says It's Typical

The group Mothers Against Drunk Drivers also released a statement Thursday, saying that the incident involving Bush's daughters "only underscores the fact that no family - whether average American or national celebrity - is immune to underage drinking."

MADD contends that alcohol is the number one drug problem among young people -- something that is often accepted as a rite of passage by children and adults alike.

Millie Webb, MADD's national president, said it's time to get serious about addressing the problem. "We certainly hope the President and First Lady are taking this opportunity to talk with their daughters about underage drinking and we encourage families across the country to do the same."

MADD also commended the Austin restaurant manager who called police to report the underage drinking.

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters Thursday that the Bushes will not comment on their daughters' troubles, saying it was a "family matter."

"You know what my answer will be: This is and shall remain a private family matter," Fleischer said at a contentious White House news briefing.

"Do you want the American people to know that you're asking about private conversations that took place between the president of the United States and his child?" Fleischer asked reporters.

"I think the American people agree with the president that it is his purview, even as president of the United States, to have private moments with his family. That includes his two 19-year-old daughters," he said.

"And like any parent raising a child, they expect the right to talk privately with their children no matter what position they hold in life. Any reaction of the parents is parental, it is not governmental," Fleischer said.

The legal drinking age in Texas is 21.

Jenna Bush, along with her twin sister, Barbara, both 19, received misdemeanor citations for underage drinking. Police said Jenna allegedly tried to buy margaritas using an ID that belonged to someone else; and Jenna was accused of drinking an alcoholic beverage in the same Austin restaurant. Jenna is a student at the University of Texas in Austin, while Barbara goes to Yale.