Richard Wolffe

Stories by Richard Wolffe

  • Wolffe: Bush's Wayward Biographer

    President Bush granted six sit-down interviews to author Robert Draper. The results have not been especially helpful as the administration sets course on Iraq for the fall.
  • Did the Dems Help Speed Rove's Exit?

    As key members of Bush's inner circle file out, a former White House official suggests Democratic pressure may have helped hasten the departure of Karl Rove.
  • Clinton vs. Obama: The Experience Question

    Does Barack Obama have have enough experience to be president? This is the question Hillary Clinton would like to spend the next seven months debating. Her slogan is that she's "ready to lead"; she cites her extensive foreign travel and sessions with world leaders. For his part, Obama prefers to talk about living overseas and the good judgment he displayed in opposing the Iraq War from the start. For months, Clinton and Obama have taken subtle digs at each other's résumés. But there's nothing subtle about it now.At last week's contentious presidential debate, Obama was asked if he would meet with hostile foreign leaders like Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without preconditions in the first year of his presidency. Obama said he would. He said George W. Bush's policy of shunning those leaders had failed, and he would bring about change. Clinton turned the answer against Obama. She said she would not meet with the hostile leaders without preconditions, and...
  • Obama's Image Problem: Rock Star or Policy Wonk

    It was a low-key event for the rock star of American politics: a poorly lit seminar room at a community college in Mason City, Iowa, full of voters sharing their woes about the health-care system. Yet Barack Obama worked the policy forum with the energy of someone who was hearing stories about the burdens of chronic illness and costly premiums for the first time. "What those people said to me was so amazing," he told a senior aide as they walked out of the event in early April. "It was so interesting to hear how their perspectives were similar and different from the folks we saw in New Hampshire."Obama started his career as a community organizer, and he thrives when he's doing grass-roots work. It's his appeal, but it also exposes a potential flaw: he's running for commander in chief now, not city council, and Obama's aides are acutely aware that his approach doesn't always translate in a modern presidential campaign. His set-piece speeches are often received in respectful silence,...
  • The Oval: The Last Dance for Bush and Blair

    Bush and Blair have been quite a team over the years. But their last joint appearance in Washington was a reminder that the president got more out of their union than the prime minister did.
  • Chertoff on Immigration Reform Deal

    The Bush administration reached a long-awaited deal on immigration reform with a bipartisan group of senators Thursday. Prospects for the deal to become law are unclear, given the fraught politics of immigration—especially among conservatives. But in theory the deal promises to give legal status to some 12 million illegal immigrants, as well as strengthening border security and tightening controls on employers. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff spoke to NEWSWEEK's Richard Wolffe about the deal and where it goes from here. Excerpts: ...
  • Oval: Tornado Rouses the Ghost of Katrina

    Once again, a Democratic governor was sparring with the White House over disaster relief. Only this time, the war in Iraq was added to the Greensburg tornado equation.
  • Wolffe: Dinner With the Queen

    Maybe it was the white tie and tails. Or maybe it was the backdrop of a four-year-old war and 28 percent approval ratings. ...
  • Can Obama's Substance Match His Style?

    Barack Obama is a man of grace. With his eloquent language and compelling life story, he has crafted two best-selling books and can deliver campaign rhetoric with deftness. At town-hall meetings, he looks pensive as he carefully answers voters' questions, like the law lecturer he used to be. He sweeps his hand across the stage when he sounds expansive, and jabs a finger when he's critical of President George W. Bush. Even his clothes on the campaign trail suggest a seriously cool character, with his trademark black suit and white shirt unbuttoned at the neck.But beyond his charm and magnetic personality, what is the substance of the Obama campaign? In another era, his rivals might have asked, "Where's the beef?" John Edwards—the candidate Obama pushed into third place in the polls—is more specific, suggesting that Obama's fine words are no substitute for his missing health-care policy. "We have a responsibility, if you want to be president of the United States, to tell the American...
  • The Oval: Bush Still Controls Security Debate

    The country says it wants a change. The candidates are not exactly embracing the legacy of President Bush. So why do they sound so much like him whenever they talk about national-security threats?
  • Aide Casts Doubt on Bush's Iraq Scenario

    The president is suggesting that a troop withdrawal would turn Iraq into a battleground between regional powers. Not so, says a senior administration official.
  • Clinton Fund-Raising Strategy Backfires

    There's a turncoat inside Hillary Clinton's money machine. Over the past several years, Leonore Blitz has helped raise about $250,000 for Clinton's Senate races, and she signed up early to help the new presidential campaign. But in recent weeks the Manhattan marketing consultant has secretly attended finance meetings and fund-raisers for Clinton's archrival, Barack Obama. Under intense pressure from the Clinton team to pick sides, Blitz—who bundled more than $1 million for John Kerry in 2004—felt deeply conflicted. Clinton operatives have warned donors not to contribute to other campaigns, and put a price on disloyalty: early supporters will be valued and latecomers scorned. But now Blitz is coming out of the shadows, ready to test the rules. "I have been a lifelong advocate of women and minorities' participating and running for political office," she told NEWSWEEK last week. "Therefore, I'm supporting both Clinton and Obama."The Clinton campaign denies that it has strong-armed...
  • McCain Tries to Reboot His Campaign

    John McCain is trying to reboot his presidential campaign. But he may be too tethered to Bush's war policy to do so effectively.
  • The Oval: Bush's Rough Spring

    Bush soldiers on with his domestic energy agenda. But he's having trouble getting traction amid an ongoing blizzard of bad news.
  • Bush's Latest Stab at Damage Control

    Bush's latest efforts at damage control are extraordinarily fair-minded and cooperative. Or so the president says. Reading between the lines at the White House press conference.
  • The Last Word: Henry Paulson

    He's been called the first treasury secretary with real clout since Bob Rubin, and arrived in office with the gilded pedigree that adorns former Goldman Sachs CEOs. So it's not surprising that Henry Paulson has since been fingered by pundits as the man behind George W. Bush's latest moves on issues ranging from China to, most recently, his call for a campaign to cut U.S. dependence on foreign oil. He spoke to NEWSWEEK's Richard Wolffe on his latest role last week. Excerpts: ...
  • What Are You Doing Here?

    Judging by the photos on the walls of his vast office, the new Treasury secretary has a gentler approach to the world than, say, Vice President Dick Cheney. While Cheney likes to hunt small birds with a shotgun, Hank Paulson shoots them with a camera. Photos of unusual birds--Paulson's vacation pictures, taken by his wife--hang above Bloomberg computer terminals feeding the latest Wall Street data to his desk. "If you look around here," he tells NEWSWEEK, gesturing at his photos, "I have spent a huge percentage of my time off in beautiful places, outdoor places, saving the land, wilderness, parks ... Conservation is my passion."Paulson is a rare species inside the Bush administration. Environmentalists see this White House as a bastion of backward thinking; Bush has angered them (and America's allies) by sometimes questioning the science of global warming. Yet Paulson cares deeply about climate change: during his seven-year run as chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, the investment...
  • Campaign Trail Highs. And Lows.

    Barack Obama stepped into the concrete pavilion in Chicago to the roar of some 7,000 hometown fans and the Tina Turner anthem of “Simply The Best.” If the Illinois senator is the pop star of politics, Sunday night’s rally was arena rock. After all of two days as an official presidential candidate, Obama was drawing crowds as big as President Bush did at his final event of the 2006 elections.“It’s good to be back home,” he shouted, as his fans screamed. “Goodness gracious!” Goodness gracious? How earnest and wholesome can this rock star be?RELATED CONTENT Obama, By the Books Fineman: Inside Barack Obama’s StrategyA little too earnest, it turns out. Obama began a lengthy exposition on the failings of the health system and the need for medical records. “They have no paperwork when they take your money,” he said to the crowd’s delight, “so why is there paperwork when you need health care?”Then the hecklers started: a group of maybe a dozen young protesters who consider Obama’s antiwar...