On CSPAN2 this morning they had Book TV and lo and behold Jenna Bush was on as an author talking about the book she had written. I sat and watched the press conference at the Miami Book Fair, it was interesting to see her speak. She reminds me a lot of her dad, she seems to struggle to speak English, although she seems better than her father, she seems to always be smiling and has these weird facial expressions even when talking about very sad things, she is very earnest in her thoughts as though she does not understand that there is a world outside her experiences and finally she is very naive and has been very sheltered in her life. I would not expect anything else from her, but it was interesting to see how naive she is.
I didn't know that she was an elementary school teacher and she said she worked in inner city DC. The book comes from her experiences as an intern with UNICEF in Latin America and yet even after both of these experiences she seems to still view life as a small child or puppy would. The rose colored glasses that her family seems to have surgically attached to their eyes do not seem to have changed even though she has seen poverty and conditions that would seem to be so different than her own childhood. She mentioned that when she visited Jamaica as part of UNICEF, she was talking to some high school students who had HIV. They all confirmed their status to her and her companions, but they were very quiet about it and spoke in hushed voices. When Jenna asked why they were so quiet, they explained that if anyone found out about their HIV status, they would be stoned, which means they would have stones thrown at them till they fell down. She explained this to us because apparently like her father if she does not know what something means than nobody else does either so they explain it to us. (And yes I did feel compelled at this point to talk to the TV and say, "Not like how you and your mother and father are usually stoned, huh.) She then elaborated that apparently the stigma of HIV is not foreign, it is also true here in the US, according to some high schoolers she talked to in LA. She sounded so earnest and surprised about this, it would actually be kind of funny if it wasn't so sad.
The whole press conference was obviously written down as she would look down at her notes quite often and apparently she did not think to change anything from the speaking engagements she has been doing with high school students. She talked to the audience as though we were in high school or possibly in elementary school. She talked about how sad all of these orphans are and how there are a lot of opportunities to help them and we need to help them, how there are a lot of opportunities for high school students to get involved, she then looked up and realized that her audience was mostly adults and noted, I guess many of you are already doing things as you are probably teachers or librarians, but there is more that we can do to help all of these poor people of Africa and Latin America.
I found listening to her talk about her book and her experiences interesting. No, she is not eloquent or engaging and I am sure if it had been someone else there could have been a lot more interest generated, but she is still so naive and so unjaded (is that even a word) that listening to her talk is like sending one of my preschoolers to Latin America and asking them to then tell me what happened. But I think that the preschoolers would show more compassion and empathy toward other people. She read several chapters from her book and even the writing is immature, it sounds like a poorly written chapter book for a fourth grader. If she wasn't the daughter of the president, she probably would not have even gotten the opportunity to go to Latin America, let alone write a book. I am glad that she go to go and spend several weeks living among people who have grown up with lives that are so very different from her own and I honestly think that we need to do that same for her father. He needs to see that there are people who have not been able to dodge the draft, do cocaine and be an alcoholic for much of their lives and then suddenly become president, most of us have to work to pay bills and just to live.