Richard Wolffe

The Oval: The Price of an Ambassadorship

For the first half of this year, the Bush administration seemed on track to patch up its dismal relations with its European allies. President George W. Bush has toured Europe three times this year (four if you include the pope's funeral) and even spoken sweet words to one of the arch critics of the war in Iraq German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder--first in Germany and then in Washington last month.But photo ops are cheap compared to the price of an ambassadorship, and nothing speaks quite so...

The Oval: Changing the Subject?

They looked like the quintessentially civilized gentlemen. It was early enough in the summer morning to stroll through the colonnade in front of the Oval Office wearing dark jackets without breaking into one of Washington's heavy sweats.

The Oval: Stonewalling?

Contentious news conferences are nothing new in the hothouse of the James S. Brady press briefing room at the White House. But new evidence about Karl Rove's role in the Valerie Plame leak has turned the already tense daily press briefings into something of a frenzy.

Osama and Saddam

Just in case anyone was reaching for the remote, President George W. Bush hit his keynote as early as he could while still being polite. After thanking the troops at Fort Bragg, N.C., on Tuesday night, the first two lines of his speech were blindingly simple. "The troops here and across the world are fighting a global war on terror," he said. "The war reached our shores on September the 11th, 2001."In other words: forget about the Downing Street memos and Colin Powell's now discredited speech...


It's supposed to play host to kings, queens and the leaders of America's closest allies. Instead the East Wing's opulent state dining room will entertain a far more powerful group of guests this week: the 55 GOP senators who hold George W.

The Oval: Strategic Planning

The White House is on a hair trigger and it has nothing to do with Iraq or Al Qaeda. The twitchy, nervous mood is the product of a far more pressing battle--one that promises to shape domestic politics for the rest of the year while also shaping President George Bush's place in the history books.Yet there's something strangely rehearsed about the looming struggle to fill a likely vacancy on the Supreme Court--an opening that could emerge next week if, as is widely predicted, the ailing Chief...

The Oval: Who's Right on Gitmo?

Standing before a crowd of journalists at the National Press Club in Washington this week, Dick Cheney seemed less than surprised that his audience's first question was about Guantanamo Bay. "I thought somebody might ask about Guantanamo today," he quipped when asked whether the prison camp was damaging America's image in the world.His response sounded characteristically robust and carefully researched.

The Oval: Donor Woes

On Oct. 30, 2003, more than 600 people gathered inside a Hyatt Regency hotel ballroom in downtown Columbus, Ohio, where they lunched on roast-beef sandwiches and listened to President Bush deliver a campaign speech.


In the Oval Office last week, George W. Bush was explaining his theory on growing a democracy to Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif. "It's the evolution of a baby," Bush said, according to a senior aide who was present but declined to be named because the meeting was private. "First you crawl, then you walk, then you sprint.

The Oval: Bush's Palestinian Tightrope

It's hard to overstate how much the White House is betting on the next several months of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. President George W. Bush's national-security officials suggest that if all goes well with Israel's withdrawal from Gaza--and if an effective and peaceful Palestinian state emerges there--the administration will find new diplomatic openings across the region, the broader Muslim world and even across Europe.That's not entirely wishful thinking, even if it relies on two big...


George Voinovich is not your typical Bush loyalist. A self-styled deficit hawk, the former Cleveland mayor and Ohio governor is so frugal that he once fished a penny out of a urinal in the Statehouse.


She was supposed to be smoothing the way for President George W. Bush's trip to Moscow, a celebration of Hitler's defeat 60 years ago this week. But instead of rekindling the spirit of wartime allies, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice only provoked the Russians, who were offended by Bush's plans.

Nothing Special

"I wouldn't expect anything special," said one senior aide to President George W. Bush. "It's standard practice." So went the planning for Bush's travels with embattled House Majority Leader Tom DeLay this week.

The Oval: Oil Dilemma

"I wish I could simply wave a magic wand and lower gas prices tomorrow," George Bush told Latino business leaders at the Ronald Reagan building in Washington on Wednesday. "I'd do that." Yet what followed--a speech previously described by his aides as a major policy address--said nothing about how to lower prices any time soon, with or without a magic wand.

The Oval: Summit Talk

Prompted by reporters, the president and the prime minister left no one in any doubt about their sharp differences over Israeli plans to expand a handful of settlements in the West Bank.

Presidents and the Pope

Inside St. Peter's Basilica late Wednesday night, Vatican officials briefly blocked the massive line of people that had been waiting hours to view the body of Pope John Paul II.

The Oval: Picking Up Steam

The White House claims that it's gaining momentum in its never-ending quest to overhaul Social Security. But judging from the battle on the ground, it looks like the opposition can also claim to be on a roll.


The talk was small for Dick Cheney: the virtues of duck-hunting, the recent renovation of his mansion and the history of conservatism in Congress. Yet the reception for 40 members of the conservative Republican Study Committee was also unusually personal for the veep.

The Oval: Not Such Good Neighbors

Call it Bush's law of unexpected diplomacy. Four years ago, nobody could have predicted just how difficult relations would become across North America. And a year ago, nobody could have predicted just how improved relations would become across the Atlantic.How difficult are George Bush's relationships with Mexico and Canada?

Tricks Of The Trade

The White House likes to call them "regular folks"--people with real-life questions about the president's agenda. Only some are more regular than others. Carlos Huertas was billed as a concerned grandfather and hard-working engineer when he sat onstage next to President Bush to talk about retirement accounts in downtown Tampa, Fla., last month. "The thing I like about the proposed reforms in Social Security," Huertas said, "is that, just like I do on the 401(k), I can invest in the market where...

Woman Power at State

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reinvigorated the State Deparment's flagging role in foreign-policy making in a matter of months. Now, State is about to gain even more firepower when long-time Bush adviser Karen Hughes is nominated as Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.