The year's must-Skip series!

Political commentary and more.
March 3 2002 2:55 PM

Ten Years in September

This season's must-Skip series!

(Continued from Page 3)

6) Bush abandons his light, healthy diet in a bit of who-knows-when-they'll-blow-us-up fatalism. "Well, you might as well have cheese," Hughes tells him.

7) At a 9/13 cabinet meeting: "Bush was tired of rhetoric, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell thought; the president wanted to kill somebody."

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8) At a later Cabinet meeting, Powell, worried that Bush will get weepy, passes Bush a note suggesting some tricks to avoid becoming emotional. Bush reads the note, immediately holds it up for the room to see, and says: "Let me tell you what the secretary of state told me. 'Dear Mr. President, don't break down!' "

9) Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld's deputy, annoys Camp David participants by showing up at meetings of "principals" to push his attack-Iraq cause. At one point, he interrupts Rumsfeld. Bush looks to Card, who takes Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz aside and says, "The president will expect one person to speak for the Department of Defense."

10) After the crucial Camp David meeting, Ashcroft sits at the piano and plays "Old Man River" and "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen." Rice is the "principal vocalist," while "Bush was at a table nearby, joining in trying to assemble an elaborate wooden jigsaw puzzle."

11) Powell worries to Hughes that a line in the 9/20 speech comparing the Taliban to the Mafia will offend "the anti-'Soprano' " crowd.

12) Bush has a scorecard in his desk—three pieces of paper with photos and bios of al-Qaida leaders. When one of them is killed, he marks them with an X.

Details with policy implications:

1) Rumsfeld recalls telling Bush that "whenever the United States was attacked or threatened, the Clinton Administration had followed a pattern of 'reflexive pullback.' … I left no doubt in his mind but that, at that moment where something happens, that I would be coming to him to lean forward, not back."

2) Cheney consistently pushes to broaden the targets of the anti-terror campaign to include states—"It's easer to find them than it is to find bin Laden."

3) Daschle cautions Bush to "use care" in his rhetoric. "War is a powerful word."