Martha Brant

West Wing Story: White House Blues

President George W. Bush said yesterday that he is confident that he is safe at work. But after hearing that trace amounts of anthrax were found in a remote mail-screening facility, not everyone who works in and around the White House shares the president's confidence.

Quick, Meet The Press

SHANGHAI, Oct. 19 -- I had been feeling a bit miffed about President Bush's prime-time press conference last week. It wasn't just that he didn't call on me, but that he didn't really answer the questions he did take.

West Wing Story: The Wrath Of W

I have to learn to be more duplicitous if I'm going to cover this White House. The other day a source said to me: "Remember, if you run into me somewhere, make sure you stick out your hand and introduce yourself." In other words, act like we never met.

The Chief Caretaker

On the morning of Sept. 11, Laura Bush was in the Capitol, waiting to testify on one of her favorite issues: early-childhood education. As the news broke, she turned her ashen face to the cameras.

West Wing Story: Bushspeak

The president needed a pad of paper, quickly. He was huddled in a back room last Tuesday at a Florida elementary school, where he had just spoken with second graders, preparing an address to America.

Making Dinner

Roland Mesnier, the artistic pastry chef at the White House, understands the geopolitics of cuisine. He has learned from painful experience. A few years ago he made dessert for a visiting Mexican head of state: he created a charming--to him--scene of a Mexican boy in a sombrero, dozing off against his mud hut.

West Wing Story: Pool Duty

While most of the press corps slept in last Thursday, Ed Chen of The Los Angeles Times was at the Crawford Elementary School by 5:15 a.m. President Bush was going golfing, and Chen had drawn the short straw: He was on "pool duty." Every time the president goes anywhere publicly, the press pool goes too.

A Steely Southerner

As a girl growing up in Birmingham, Ala., Condoleezza Rice sat quietly in her music class as the other children made a ruckus, blowing on their instruments and ignoring the teacher. "I'm waiting for my instructions," piped up little Condi. "And would you please write the music down for me?" she politely asked.

West Wing Story: America's Favorite Bushie

When Condoleezza Rice told a friend in California that she was headed back to Washington for a job in yet another Bush administration, the friend ribbed her about being drawn to the political spotlight. "Oh, no, I'm just going to be national-security adviser," Rice told her. "I can't stand politics." She may not like politics, but Rice knows how to play the game.


For those well versed in the blood feuds of politics, the scene in the White House mess last Thursday was surreal. It was Mexican food day; presidential counselor Karen Hughes had brought John Weaver, Sen.

West Wing Story: The Man To See

You can tell something about the president's closest advisers from the look-and location-of their offices. Presidential counselor and message maven Karen Hughes reorganized her office, upstairs from the president's, so she could have a view of the residence.