We already knew they like to party. But we did glean some new information about the no-longer-so-elusive Bush twins this week: Jenna has a husky voice, inflected with the Texas twang of her daddy. Barbara sounds more like Connecticut than Crawford. They're willing to tell bad jokes in front of a national audience. And nobody is supervising their wardrobes.
When the convention ended Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, the Bush twins rushed to nearby Gotham Hall in Midtown, where they made a brief appearance with the 25-year-old offspring of some other famous pols -- Emily Pataki (daughter of New York Gov. George), Emma Bloomberg (daughter of New York City Mayor Michael) and Taylor Whitman (son of former EPA head Christie Todd) -- at a party for 1,000 young Republicans.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday September 11, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 37 words Type of Material: Correction
Fashion director -- In a Sept. 4 Calendar section article about President Bush's twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, Jorge Ramon was misidentified as the fashion director of Teen Vogue. He is the fashion director for Teen People.
The girls pulled up to the party space, a gorgeous marble vault that was once a bank, in a convoy of black SUVs. They went directly to a cordoned-off area on the mezzanine. A bit later, they emerged with their hosts (Pataki, Bloomberg and Whitman), who formally welcomed the guests from a makeshift stage bathed in light. The speeches lasted mere moments, and the twins stood with the group but did not utter a word. When the greetings concluded, the twins were ushered out a back door, got into their vehicles and took off into the night.
So culminated a very full week of parties and semi-public appearances for the 22-year-old Bush twins, who have been kept out of the limelight for most of their lives. They had three speaking engagements in a two-day period: On Tuesday, they introduced their mother at a luncheon in her honor. That night, they took the podium at the convention. On Wednesday, they introduced their father's chief of staff, Andrew Card, at a gathering of Young Republicans. And every night, they were sought-after guests at parties.
"They had a very positive experience this week," said their spokeswoman Susan Whitson. "They've had a great time, and the most encouraging thing was to be around people who support their parents and care about their parents. That's reassuring."
Their riskiest venture was without a doubt the comedy routine they performed Tuesday. An excerpt:
Barbara: Jenna and I are really not very political, but we love our dad too much to stand back and watch from the sidelines. We realized this would be his last campaign and we wanted to be part of it. Besides, since we've graduated from college, we're looking around for something to do for the next few years. Kind of like Dad!
Jenna: Our parents have always encouraged us to be independent and dream big. We spent a lot of time at the White House, so when we showed up the first day we thought we had it all figured out. But apparently my dad already has a chief of staff named Andy.
Barbara: I knew I wasn't quite ready to be president, but number two sounded pretty good. Who is this man they call Dick Cheney?"
All that was missing was a rim shot, though some were recommending a gong.
"Where was Chuck Barris when we needed him?" a former Ronald Reagan speechwriter wrote in the National Review Online. The New York Daily News reported that the president's top political advisor Karl Rove turned to a colleague and moaned, "Whoever approved this, I'm going to put on a slow boat to China."
Unfortunately, if he did, he'd be banishing the president's other top advisor, Karen Hughes, who not only approved the script, but wrote it.
"Yes, that was Karen," Whitson said. "Karen has known them for years, and knows the family history and has a personal insight."
Emily Pataki, who has known the twins for several years, watched their speech from her family's box at the convention. "I thought they were so cute," said Pataki, a law student who had a part-time gig this week as an on-camera reporter for "Extra!" "I know it was incredibly nerve-racking for them to be onstage like that. For me, as a 25-year-old woman, it really hit home. It told me about their family. It really resonated with me."
Mary George, a California delegate from Los Angeles who described herself as a friend of the Bush family, said she thinks the girls have their grandmother Barbara's sense of humor, and that it was on display Tuesday night. In fact, one of the targets of their mild teasing was their grandmother, who looked puzzled when Jenna joked that her "Ganny" is so old-fashioned she thinks " 'Sex and the City' is something married people do but never talk about."
Earlier in the day, at the tribute to her mother, Jenna joked that the family considers Jenna "Barbara's revenge on George."