Jenna Bush Hager recalls awkward birthday surprise from dad

August 31, 2023

George W. Bush threw a very uncomfortable sweet sixteen for his daughter.

Daytime TV personality and mom of three Jenna Bush Hager told the odd story to co-host Hoda Kotb on Today, recalling that her father invited her ex-boyfriend and then-boyfriend to the party. 

Bush's awkward surprise

Bush Hager, 41, is a fraternal twin with sister Barbara. For their sixteenth birthday, the girls were given a surprise "pancake breakfast."

"I had a surprise party for my 16th birthday," she said. "It was a pancake breakfast, which was cute."

“We were going to kiss my dad goodbye for school, my mom was like, ‘Go in and tell dad goodbye,’” Bush Hager continued. “And we walked in and all of our friends were sitting there.”

George and Laura Bush are "creative" birthday planners, Bush Hager added, but things got awkward when she walked in to find all of her friends - and something more, "the old boyfriend sitting next to the new boyfriend."

An incredulous Kotb replied, "They invited both boyfriends? Your parents are wild!"

Dubya keeps a low profile

Bush Hager married Henry Chase Hager, the son of former Virginia lieutenant governor John H. Hager, in 2008. The couple has three children together.

Previously, Bush Hager told viewers that her husband was so nervous about marriage, he "actually read the Bible" for moral support before asking President Bush for his daughter's hand.

As Bush Hager told it, her dad didn't put up a fight.

"He [Henry] had like a seven-point plan of why he wanted to marry me and how he was going to take care of me," she said. "My dad goes, 'Henry, I said yes. You don’t need to go through anything else — Laura, Henry's proposing,' and that was that. Good thing he did it."

During his presidency, Bush was known for his affable, fumbling demeanor, but he left office with historically low approval ratings - and nowadays is persona non grata in the Trumpified GOP, although Democrats have rehabilitated him.

While the ex-president keeps a low profile, he's known to pop up here and there - joining Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter to push the COVID shot in 2021.

At the very least, it sounds like his daughter's sweet sixteen went over better than the invasion of Iraq.

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