The capital without the President suffers from a slightly disquieting sense of vacuum. Since a traveling President takes the office with him wherever he goes, much of the normal business was suspended in the Executive Mansion. Staff members enjoyed a night out at the theater or took long lunches. Some even savored lazy afternoons playing miniature golf on the West Wing carpets, using overturned glasses for cups. But most were eager enough to get back to work and sure that there would be plenty of it. As a favorite one-liner had it: "The trouble with Chinese diplomacy is that an...

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