Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's national security adviser, stood in front of Mr. Bush's desk in the Oval Office last summer and tried to coax the president into something he did not want to face.
She suggested, carefully, that the White House begin repairing the rupture with the allies over Iraq by reaching out to Germany, whose chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, had infuriated the president by campaigning for re-election on an antiwar platform. Mr. Bush, simply put, did not trust him.
"I can't do it with Schröder," Mr. Bush told Ms. Rice, according to a senior administration official who witnessed the exchange. Ms. Rice, who had not directly suggested that Mr. Bush meet with Mr. Schröder, rushed to reassure. "No, no, no, we won't make you do it with Schröder," she said. But Mr. Bush seemed to know what Ms. Rice had in mind. "Wait a minute, you'll get me back with Schröder, I know what you're trying to do," the president said, the official recounted.
If I were running for president, I'd get in this guy's face until he cracked. Then we'll see who the "angry" one is.