In her young adulthood, just as Mr. Bush was seeking and winning the White House, some other data points helped the stereotype congeal. She was introduced in December 2000 as “George W.’s Wild Daughter” in the National Enquirer, photographed holding a cigarette and stumbling merrily over a friend as a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin.
She was cited for underage drinking, twice, the second time with Barbara in tow. (People magazine’s headline: “Oops! They Did It Again.”)
Such incidental notoriety could take a private toll, particularly as the heavily analyzed daughter of a president who had described his own struggles with alcohol. Ms. Hager has said she took large introductory courses to avoid more intimate classroom settings where she might need to say her name. She was trailed by a Secret Service detail on social outings. She declined stately invitations from European embassies that hoped to welcome an executive daughter on her summer trek.
“She’s like, ‘Nope, we’re going to have our backpacks, we’re getting our Eurorail, we’re staying in some hostel,” said Mia Smail, a close friend who traveled with her. “It was this commitment to normalcy.”
While Ms. Hager assumed a sometimes puckish surrogate role in her father’s 2004 re-election bid — punctuated by a convention speech in which she joked that her grandmother, the former first lady, “thinks ‘Sex in the City’ is something married people do but never talk about” — her relationship with the press could still be uncomfortable.
In a widely circulated photograph that year, she was seen sticking her tongue out at reporters from the back of a Secret Service vehicle. (She has said she was trying to prove to her father that the windows were sufficiently tinted. She was mistaken.) She once broke into a dead sprint, mid-jog, after NBC’s David Gregory waved at her from the North Lawn.
At the same time, Ms. Hager showed a postgraduate appetite for media ventures on her terms. She had worked initially as a teacher at a Washington charter school for predominantly low-income families. But after a UNICEF internship in Latin America, she began shopping a book in 2007, with assistance from the Washington superlawyer Robert Barnett, about an H.I.V.-stricken Panamanian teenage mother she had met.