Letter from Washington: Party Unfaithful

The West Wing of the White House tends to have a funereal stillness, even in the best of times, which these are not. The President's aides walk the narrow corridors with pensive expressions and vigilantly modulated voices. By contrast, Karl Rove's office has an almost party atmosphere. Rove, the President's chief political adviser-the "architect," Bush has called him, of his 2004 victory over John Kerry-has been a man of constant troubles: Valerie Plame troubles, U.S. Attorney-firing troubles, and, most of all, collapse-of-the-Republican Party troubles. Yet his voice is suffused with bonhomie, his jokes are bad and frequent, his enthusiasm is communicable; he resembles an oversized leprechaun, although one with unconcealed resentments and a receding hairline.
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