Bush Twins in Vogue

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Wednesday, July 14, 2004; 11:22 AM

The press is atwitter about the twins today, as Jenna and Barbara Bush celebrate their coming-out on the campaign trail -- and a splashy photo spread in Vogue (complete with debutante-style ball gowns).

Twin Jenna traveled with her dad on Friday in Pennsylvania. Barbara tagged along yesterday in Michigan and Minnesota.

And today, they actually speak. Jenna will introduce her mother at two private fundraisers in Alabama and Georgia. And the Vogue issue, which appears on newstands today, includes their first interviews.

Washington Post fashion writer Robin Givhan writes: "The president's daughters have emerged from their media-free zone of comfort into the flattering spotlight of Vogue.

"The August issue of the fashion magazine includes an interview with the recent college graduates as well as two portraits by photographer Patrick Demarchelier. The opening picture features the two young women in strapless ball gowns. . . .

"In the picture's formality and control, it reflects their emergence as public, political daughters. . . .

"In their life story as told in public photographs, they've gone from indiscreet college students to Stepford daughters."

In the second Vogue picture, "they play the roles of chic girls about town." The setting is Schiller's Liquor Bar in downtown New York.

And here are a bunch of recent wire photos of the two young women on the campaign trail.

The New York Daily News has this news bulletin: Jenna has applied for a job at the Harlem Day Charter School.

"Opened in 2001, the free public charter school enrolls 200 students in kindergarten through fourth grade, primarily from the Harlem area.

"Most are from low-income families; 85% are black and 15% are Hispanic."

César G. Soriano writes in USA Today about some of the highlights from the Vogue story.

"The Bush family doesn't discuss the girls' past troubles in Vogue. But the interview does provide a few personal nuggets:

• "The girls call each other 'Sister' and say they are best friends.

• "They love Mexican food, Starbucks soy lattes and sushi.

• "The chatty Jenna is more like her dad -- boisterous and outgoing. Barbara is more studious and guarded like her mom.

• "Jenna is dating and Barbara has a serious boyfriend. They don't name names. Their father 'is very funny with boyfriends,' says Jenna. 'He's the joking-around-to-the-point-where-he-scares-the-heck-out-of-them type.' "

Peter Wallsten writes in the Los Angeles Times: "White House and campaign officials said Tuesday that the Vogue interview and the appearances on the campaign trail were decisions made entirely by the twins -- but that the officials were pleased with the results."

In the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Bob Dart notes this quote from Jenna: "I'm just not political. . . . I have opinions, but there's nothing about the process that has ever interested me. I'm 22, and this is the first interview I've ever done in my life."

Elisabeth Bumiller writes in the New York Times that in the Vogue interview, "the daughters present a picture of themselves in striking contrast to the image of fun-loving twins known for partying and under-age drinking in Texas."

Of course, the press coverage may not stay all sweetness and light for long. In fact, the New York Times on Sunday ran a long diary by Coco Henson Scales, a hostess at a chi-chi New York restaurant and lounge, in which she describes a visit from the twins during which Barbara goes outside, bends over, burps and spits.

Up North

Dana Milbank writes in The Washington Post about the exuberant welcome Bush received in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan yesterday.

"One might wonder why Bush would take the time to visit this electoral end of the earth, a place where there are two deer for every man, woman and child, a vast land with a third of Michigan's acreage but only 3 percent of its population. But such is the Bush-Cheney campaign's determination not to cede the rural vote to Democrat John F. Kerry, whose campaign believes it can appeal to rural voters with the addition of homespun vice presidential choice Sen. John Edwards (N.C.)."

Although Marquette, where Bush spoke, is a Democratic area that supported Al Gore in 2000, residents "were enormously grateful on Tuesday for the presidential attention."

Here are the texts of Bush's remarks in Marquette and then, later, in Duluth, Minn.

One of the key sound bites of the day:

"Yesterday, my opponent said he is proud that he and his running mate voted against funding the troops.


"THE PRESIDENT: Now, listen, he's entitled to his view. He's entitled to his view. But members of Congress should not vote to send troops into battle, and then vote against funding them. (Applause.) And then brag about it."

Adam Nagourney writes in the New York Times: "Mr. Bush noted that Mr. Kerry had spoken approvingly of entertainers who appeared at a fund-raisers for him last week in New York and used off-color jokes and often brutal characterizations to attack Mr. Bush. Mr. Bush has seized on that as part of a broader effort to draw distinctions with Mr. Kerry on issues like abortion rights and gay marriage.

" 'The other day, my opponent said that entertainers in Hollywood conveyed the heart and soul of America,' Mr. Bush said. 'I believe the heart and soul of America is found in places like Duluth, Minn.' "

John Myers writes in the local paper, the Duluth News Tribune: "The president entered the DECC Arena just before 6 p.m., nearly 10 minutes ahead of schedule, to darkened lights, blaring music and a giant W-shaped spotlight that moved across the crowd.

"As the president entered the Arena, screams erupted among his raucous supporters who had waited in line for tickets, waited in line to clear security, then waited still longer for the president's arrival."

Chris Hamilton of the Duluth paper adds: "It was a tightly controlled event staffed by dozens of volunteers with laminated badges. The Secret Service set up metal detectors and had mug shots of local anti-Bush activists Joel Kilgour and Joel Sipress."

But it's Michael Larson they should have been watching for.

As Myers reports: "Bush's speech was interrupted for a few seconds when a protester, Michael Larson of Duluth, stood up in an aisle and yelled, 'Shame on you.' Bush stopped speaking only briefly and didn't acknowledge Larson, who was wearing a white T-shirt with fake blood painted on it. Larson was immediately ushered out by police and Secret Service. He was ticketed and released by police."

The Duluth paper also offered a sampling of protestor's slogans.

Poll Watch

Richard Morin and Claudia Deane write in The Washington Post: "Despite growing fears that the United States is losing the war on terrorism, President Bush has reclaimed the advantage over his Democratic challenger John F. Kerry as the candidate best able to deal with the international terrorist threat, according to the latest Washington Post poll."

Among the findings, a mixed bag:

• 55 percent approve of the way Bush is handling the campaign against terrorism, up five points in the past three weeks.

• 51 percent trust Bush more than Kerry to deal with terrorism.

• 46 percent said the United States is winning the war on terrorism, down eight points since April.

• 53 percent said the war with Iraq was not worth fighting, a record high.

• 53 percent said the conflict with Iraq has contributed to the long-term U.S. security.

• 48 percent approve of the job Bush is doing overall, unchanged from last month; 50 percent disapprove.

Here's the latest job approval chart, and the complete poll data.

Live Online

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Bush's War Room

The Bush campaign let reporters from the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times into the heart of their operations on Monday from dawn to dusk. What they saw, among other things, was the genesis of Bush's sound bite mocking Kerry for being "proud" of having voted against the $87 billion for troops and reconstruction in Iraq.

Jim Rutenberg writes in the New York Times about the campaign war room, "built in the mold of Bill Clinton's pioneering effort in 1992," but "far more technologically advanced" and "rooted more in offense" than in defense.

"The central tenet of Mr. Bush's communications operation is on a sign on the office door of Nicolle Devenish, Mr. Bush's campaign communications director, which says: 'It's the Hypocrisy, Stupid,' a play on the famous sign in Mr. Clinton's 1992 war room, 'It's the Economy, Stupid.' "

Matea Gold writes in the Los Angeles Times: "Working hand in hand with the Republican National Committee, the Bush campaign aggressively promotes its spin on the story of the day, sending up to half a dozen e-mails a day to reporters traveling with Kerry.

"Their message, no matter what the subject: Kerry is out of the mainstream and lacks convictions."

What Did the Boss Want?

Most of us, I would imagine, have worked at places where everybody knew what the boss wanted -- and without necessarily being told, tried to give it to him.

It's a self-preservation reflex at even slightly dysfunctional organizations. (And you sure don't want to be the guy who tells the boss he's wrong.)

So it occurred to me that the CIA analysts who massively flubbed their Iraqi weapons analyses might concievably have felt an oblique sort of pressure if the bosses were out and about telling other people what they wanted to hear -- even if they weren't getting direct orders. In May 2002, the CIA started work on the only comprehensive assessment of Iraq's weaspons of mass destruction released to the public before the war. It was released five months later in October.

So what were Bush and Cheney saying publicly (not to mention privately) while that document was in process?

Let's see.

Here's Bush on June 13, 2002,: "I haven't changed my opinion about Saddam Hussein, however. He is -- this is a person who gassed his own people, and possesses weapons of mass destruction."

Here he is in a Sept. 14, 2002, radio address: "Today this regime likely maintains stockpiles of chemical and biological agents, and is improving and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical and biological weapons. Today Saddam Hussein has the scientists and infrastructure for a nuclear weapons program, and has illicitly sought to purchase the equipment needed to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon. Should his regime acquire fissile material, it would be able to build a nuclear weapon within a year.

Here he is on Sept. 18, 2002, after a meeting with congressional leaders: "I think reasonable people understand this man is unreasonable. And reasonable people understand that this is just a ploy, this is a tactic, this is a way to try to say to the world, oh, I'm a wonderful, peaceful fellow, when, in fact, he not only kills his own people, he's terrorized his neighborhood and he's developing weapons of mass destruction. We must deal with him."

And what about Cheney?

Here he is on NBC's "Meet the Press" on May 19: "We know he's got chemicals and biological and we know he's working on nuclear."

And here he is on July 19, 2002: "We have already found confirmation that the al-Qaeda terrorists are seriously interested in nuclear and radiological weapons, and in biological and chemical agents. At the same time, there is a danger of terror groups joining together with regimes that have or are seeking to build weapons of mass destruction. In the case of Saddam Hussein, we have a dictator who is clearly pursuing these capabilities -- and has used them, both in his war against Iran and against his own people."

Small World

Blogger Joshua Micah Marshall points to the BeatBushBlog, which spotted evidence in the transcript of Larry King's interview with former Enron chairman Ken Lay that one of Lay's lawyers appears to be James E. Sharp -- the same man who's representing Bush in the Plame case.

Gay Marriage

Helen Dewar and Alan Cooperman write in The Washington Post: "A proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage was headed for defeat in the Senate today, doomed by nearly solid Democratic opposition, sharp divisions within Republican ranks and a lack of consensus among voters over how best to deal with the issue. . . .

"Bush has recently stepped up his push for the amendment, mentioning it in a campaign appearance Friday and devoting his radio address to it Saturday. One GOP lawmaker said support for the constitutional ban may help Bush and other Republican candidates in rural sections of swing states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Missouri. If these rural areas vote more heavily than urban areas -- as they often do -- then the strategy of keeping the issue stirred up will benefit Republicans, the lawmaker said."

Karl Rove Watch

Karl Rove, Bush's senior political adviser, was in New Hampshire yesterday for a fundraiser, trying to keep that state in play.

John DiStaso of the Manchster Union Leader got an interview.

"Rove would not speculate on whether Bush would have gone to war had he received accurate intelligence on Saddam Hussein.

"'The President has to go on the basis of the information he's got,' Rove said."

Darfur Watch

Bush made his most definitive comments yet on the crisis in Sudan.

"I'm deeply concerned about the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Darfur, Sudan. For the sake of peace and basic humanity, I echo the sentiments of the Secretary of State. I call upon the government of Sudan to stop the Janjaweed violence. I call on all parties of the conflict to respect the cease-fire, to respect human rights, and to allow for the free movement of humanitarian workers and aid. The United States and the United Nations and the leadership of the African Union are working to bring relief to the suffering people of that region. America will continue to strongly support these efforts for peace."

Here's the text of his remarks, which came as he signed the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which extends trade preferences across the region for seven years.

Alex Barker writes in the Financial Times: "The White House faced growing political pressure from Congress yesterday to declare that the Sudanese government is carrying out genocide in western Sudan's Darfur region."

One-Pager Stays Secret

Douglas Jehl writes in the New York Times: "The White House and the Central Intelligence Agency have refused to give the Senate Intelligence Committee a one-page summary of prewar intelligence in Iraq prepared for President Bush that contains few of the qualifiers and none of the dissents spelled out in longer intelligence reviews, according to Congressional officials.

"Senate Democrats claim that the document could help clear up exactly what intelligence agencies told Mr. Bush about Iraq's illicit weapons. The administration and the C.I.A. say the White House is protected by executive privilege, and Republicans on the committee dismissed the Democrats' argument that the summary was significant."

White House Calling

CNN's Judy Woodruff interviewed longtime Christian conservative organizer Paul Weyrich, who sent out an e-mail newsletter last week that was critical of the low profile being offered to social conservatives at the Republican convention.

"WOODRUFF: You went on to say, 'I hate to say it, but the conservatives for the most part are not excited about reelecting the president. They're supporting him reluctantly.' And you went on to say, 'Often, I've been become a cheerleader for Bush-Cheney, only to be tamped down by the vast majority of people who then turn around and e-mail or phone me.' Is there -- are you hearing real concern -- real unhappiness out there among conservatives?

"WEYRICH: Unfortunately, I am. I mean, I never expected to be in the position of having to convince people that they need to go out there and work for this president. The vast majority of people who contact me say, 'Well, yes, I will end up probably voting for him.' But, you know, they've been concerned about a number of issues. The White House doesn't believe this, and . . .

"WOODRUFF: You've talked to the White House?

"WEYRICH: Yes. They've talked to me. And, you know, they -- they believe that this conveyed the wrong impression.

"I can only report on what I know to be the case, and that is people who contact me, you know, about what I write about. And I'm telling you that, whereas in 2000, there was a great deal of enthusiasm for this president, the events that he has had to contend with have tamped down this enthusiasm.

"Now, let me say, at the same time, this president is a conservative. This president, from my standpoint, is one of us. I argue that with the people who are arguing with me. But I am getting an argument.

"WOODRUFF: Who called you from the White House? I'm curious.

"WEYRICH: Oh, well, I don't want to disclose that. But . . .

"WOODRUFF: Was it Karl Rove?

"WEYRICH: Well, leave it to your imagination. But . . .


Bush's Finger, Day Two

Ana Marie Cox, the blogger known as Wonkette, takes a digitally enhanced look at the allegation by the blogger jiveturkey that Bush flipped him the bird. But it's still inconclusive.

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