Pubdate: 03 Mar 2001
Source: Kansas City Star (MO)
Copyright: 2001 The Kansas City Star
Author: Mike Hendricks


Dear Prez:

It's gotta be tough going through what you're going through with those
twin daughters of yours.

Kids! You wonder where they leave their brains sometimes.

So far we've been pretty lucky at our house. No court dates. But you
never know what's going to happen next where teen-agers are concerned.

It can't be easy being both leader of the free world and the father of
two 19-year-old college kids who not only like to party, but have a
knack for getting caught.

Which is the bigger headache, North Korea or Jenna?

Your University of Texas freshman barely settles up her earlier
troubles for illegal possession of alcohol when she gets busted last
week for using a fake ID to buy a cocktail. And you can't chalk it up
to her being the one that goes to the state school.

Her Yalie sister, Barbara, was cited that night for underage

Not even your worst enemies can take pleasure in this, unless they are
themselves without fault. And the only guy I know like that is Bill
Bennett, and he's your guy.

Still, it must be embarrassing when this misbehavior is fodder for the
tabloids. Doubly so, considering your own past problems with alcohol,
not that you'll talk about either, and I don't blame you.

I, too, have evaded the topic of my youthful indiscretions, of which
there were many.

As fathers, we both know kids make mistakes. They should be punished
when they err, but they need understanding and deserve second and
third chances.

I'm sure you'll give your girls that much. But I'd also like to think
you'd offer the same compassion for other kids in similar situations.

What I have in mind is this new hard-line approach the government is
taking toward college students who've had even minor drug

We ran a story on this in The Star just last week. And what it comes
down to is that if a kid so much as smokes a joint and gets caught, he
could lose any federal college aid he might be entitled to for a year.

Two busts, and it's two years without money for college, and for some
kids, that might mean the end of an academic career.

One joint, Mr. President. Not heroin, cocaine or LSD -- which are also
covered by the law, of course -- but marijuana.

It's unfair. Only those convicted of drug crimes are singled out in
this way. Not rapists, thieves -- or minors found to be in possession
of alcohol, for instance.

Yet, upward of 60,000 kids, many of them poor or working class, will
be denied financial aid because of this law that punishes drug users,
even after they've paid their debt to society.

I know this doesn't affect you personally, Mr. Bush. Somehow, I figure
Jenna and Barbara don't need Pell Grants and student loans, even if
you and Laura made less than the Cheneys last year.

And, of course, your girls were cited on alcohol charges, not drug

You and I know that's a fine line. Youth is a time for
experimentation. And it's lousy of your administration to step up
enforcement of a law that might ruin a kid's education just because he
made a bad choice or two that harmed no one but himself.

Think about it, will you?

P.S., I'd have loved to have heard what you had to say to the girls.
Any pointers?

You never know, advice like that might come in handy around our house
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