The Editor's Desk

For 18 months six years ago, Richard Wolffe, then with the Financial Times, spent nearly every day following George W. Bush as the Texas governor ran for president of the United States. And Charles Ommanney was a fixture on Bush's campaign plane, taking pictures for NEWSWEEK. So as President Bush prepared to travel to St. Petersburg for the G8 summit of world leaders several weeks ago, we approached the White House with the idea of allowing Richard and Charles to travel with him and conduct a series of rolling interviews. The president's aides agreed--not knowing that our reporters would be behind the scenes as one of the biggest crises of Bush's presidency erupted.

A day after Bush left Washington, the Middle East exploded, and Richard and Charles were there to observe--and photograph--as the president and his team juggled schmoozing with world leaders and responding to a savage tit for tat between Israel and Hizbullah radicals that threatened to escalate into all-out war. In our cover package, Christopher Dickey and Babak Dehghanpisheh chronicle the latest violence and bewilderment in the Arab world about why America, after pushing for free elections in Lebanon, has allowed Israel to attack the new government's armed forces and destroy much of the country's infrastructure in its bid to cripple Hizbullah. Meanwhile, Richard and Charles take you inside the room as the president and his team scramble to come to grips with the mayhem. In addition to playing fly on the wall, Richard interviewed Bush four times over four days, getting an up-close sense of his views and his mood. "Bush now versus Bush then?" Richard reflects. "He's still an open book--there's no hiding what he's thinking or feeling. He can be pensive and playful, force-ful and stubborn, charming and dismissive. You see the experience of six turbulent years in office, and the impatience of a man who never had much time for diplomatic niceties."

Is there a distinct "female brain" that causes women to see and feel the world in a fundamentally different way from men? Peg Tyre and Julie Scelfo talk to a psychiatrist who has published a provocative book making just that case. And over a banana split in Los Angeles, Christina Aguilera talks to Lorraine Ali about the singer's transition from pop princess to sex bomb to her latest incarnation--adecidedly un-Britney throwback to the glamour of Jean Harlow and the classic American standards of jazz and blues.