A group of conservative religious leaders has called on the president to exercise some moral leadership on the matter of his twin daughters' inaugural dress choices. Their low-cut Badgley Mischka gowns, say the pro-family advocates, are a slap in the face to the values voters who got their father re-elected.
Let not Jenna and Barbara appear as Oholah and Oholibah, say religious leaders
By Deanna Swift
WASHINGTON, DC—When Jenna Bush selected for her inaugural ball gown an emerald silk crepe Badgley Mischka gown with metallic leather banding and jeweled insets, she was no doubt craving a bit of the red carpet glamour that the design team routinely furnishes Hollywood starlets. Instead, Jenna and her twin have found themselves in the glare of a different kind of spotlight.
On Friday, a group of conservative religious leaders sent a letter to the girls' father, protesting the twins' choice of inaugural attire, and asking President Bush to exert some moral leadership over his daughters.
Values, by design
In the letter, signed by pro-family advocates including Lewis Sheldrick of the Coalition for Traditional Values and Randy Thomas of the Campaign for Families, the religious leaders remind President Bush of the important role that conservative Christians played in his re-election. They warn that by appearing "in attire that cannot be described in any sense as modest," Bush's daughters risk offending not just these "values voters," but God himself.
According to nationwide exit polling by the National Election Pool, 22 percent of voters cited "moral values" as the most important issue in their decision on the presidential race.
"Having moral values doesn't just mean that you attend church regularly and that you believe in the urgency of helping the poor," says Sandy Slokum, executive director of Defend Our Marriages, a pro-family group that advocates defending marriage by adding a ban on adultery to the constitution. "It means living in the Word, and the bible is pretty clear on the subject of plunging necklines and clinging fabrics."
Red carpet vs. Red Sea
Fashion insiders were quick to defend the twins' choice of sexy, stylish gowns in which to parade on inaugural night. "These are sexy girls and they want to step out on Thursday night looking great and feeling great about themselves," says fashion writer CoCo Lepore. "Jenna's emerald silk crepe and Barbara's pale aquamarine silk chiffon gown with jeweled straps and ruffled seamed skirt could rival any a-list celeb on Oscar night," says Lepore.
And that's precisely what has conservative Christians so concerned. The authors of the letter invoke Timothy, who reminds us that women should "dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes." While the girls' Badgley Mischka frocks are reported to have cost a cool $5000 each, and jewelry designer Andrew Nak is in charge of the twins' "bling," the White House press office was unable to confirm whether Barbara and Jenna plan to appear in public with their hair braided.
A couple of Jezebels?
The religious leaders also raised the specter of Jezebel in their condemnation of the twins' immodest attire, warning the president not to present "forth your own daughters as Oholah and Oholibah, who like Jezebel, painted their eyes and decked themselves with ornaments to entice men to commit adultery with them."
This isn't the first time that Barbara and Jenna Bush have been targeted by their father's conservative Christian base. Last week, pro-family groups including the Campaign for Families, pressured organizers of a concert at which the twins are slated to appear to drop foul-mouthed metal rapper Kid Rock.