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Bush's speech was designed for the population at large, to explain to a people thirsty for the quick fix of vengeance the virtues of patience. But of necessity, the translation of goals into practice depends not so much on the mobilization of millions as on the detailed staff work of a few score. Bush's world begins with his closest advisers, extends to Cabinet officers and military commanders and then reaches his friends and allies in other countries. All must be engaged, all must do their part, if Bush's war is to be won.
In the White House where grief counselors have been made available and the morning prayer meetings are better attended than they recently were there has been some reordering of responsibilities. Josh Bolten, the deputy chief of staff, now chairs a group called the Domestic Consequences Principals Council, charged with reviewing the need for everything from an economic stimulus package to the parlous state of the airlines. Bush himself, in addition to his regular national security briefings (there's now an afternoon meeting as well as one in the morning), meets each day with FBI Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General John Ashcroft to hear how the manhunt is going and assess new threats.
Some of the quotidian expressions of political activity, like party fund raising, have been curtailed. Karl Rove, the President's chief political strategist, continues to make sure that key constituencies are not forgotten; but for the first time in Bush's political life, Rove and Hughes no longer attend the President's most important meetings. Vice President Dick Cheney, whose star had dimmed since the spring, is back, front and center. If Bush is taking the role of the outside player, the public spokesman, the emotional leader of the Administration and the nation, Cheney is the inside man, the operations guy. Think of a train: "The President," says an adviser, "is the engineer. Cheney is the guy shoveling the coal."
Bush is lucky to have a team with experience in wartime. To be sure, he and everyone else who has had the chance including Powell and Rice have been at pains to point out that this crisis is not like the one in August 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, and that this war will not be like the one fought in the Arabian desert five months later. But it doesn't hurt to have around you men and women who have gone through the fire. Apart from Cheney (Defense Secretary 10 years ago) and Powell (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff back then), Bush can call on Rice, an NSC staff member in his father's Administration, and Paul Wolfowitz, now Deputy Secretary of Defense and then Cheney's policy aide. Army General Hugh Shelton, who holds the job that Powell had 10 years ago, retires next week, but Shelton will be succeeded as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs by his deputy, Air Force General Richard Myers. Pentagon officials are relieved. "If the new Chairman was a field commander," says one, "it would be tough bringing him into this."