Erskine Bowles

The Octopus

You’re straining to see over the heads of about a million reporters seeding the White House lawn, but you’re not sure what there is to see. There is a limo parked right up to the curb, and you imagine maybe Monica will step out in her trench coat, like she did last night on TV. Instead, the door to the Roosevelt Room swings open, and Senator Dianne Feinstein steps out. (Or is that Barbara Boxer?) The press octopus makes a lunge for her, but the tiny figure in lavender merely smiles, chirps “See ya later” and disappears into the shiny car.

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It is late afternoon on Christmas Eve and the West Wing of the White House is almost empty except for Rahm Emanuel, who is sitting in his office, taking and making his own phone calls and, as always, looking out his window. It is, perhaps, the best window in the building. From it he not only can monitor who comes and goes into the West Wing (he especially loves the military flag ceremonies that accompany the visits of foreign dignitaries), but he can also see who is being interviewed by the TV reporters from their stakeout positions on the North Lawn.

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