Inside The White House: A Message Machine With The Hiccups

What's behind the embarrassing aberrations in the Bush p.r. department

No one knows where they keep the Bush message machine, but when it is working well, it hums more quietly than the White House air conditioning. So precise is this instrument that it carefully prunes the President's speeches, shaving away words such as back and backward in order to maintain the image of a man always moving ahead.

But last week horrible banging and clanking sounds could be heard all around the White House: the message machine was throwing a rod or perhaps three. First, presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer blamed Bill Clinton for unintentionally spurring violence in the Middle East,...

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