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10 August 2006

The Bunking Order

Protocol is essential in every White House. The Western White House, where the accommodations reflect one’s station in life, is no exception.

The president and Laura Bush stay in “the main house,’’ the low-slung modern ranch house they built after buying the land in 1999. Everyone else’s lodgings follow a kind of unwritten caste system, with three basic classifications: guests, staff and the lowest of the low, reporters.

Reporters and the press aides, including Mr. Snow, do not stay anywhere near the ranch; they are stuck 25 miles away at the Hilton and other hotels in downtown Waco. On the ranch proper, where the White House deputy chief of staff, Joe Hagin, is in charge of housing assignments, the distinction between guests and staff is not always clear.

Ms. Rice, always a guest, spent last weekend in “the governor’s house,’’ a modest cottage that the Bushes used before the main house was built.

The national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, ordinarily bunks in the staff lodgings: a double-wide trailer decorated, in the words of one aide, in an “early Pottery Barn” motif.

But Mr. Hadley was accompanied last weekend by his wife, and thus was bumped up a notch to a coveted spot in the guest quarters adjacent to the main house, customarily reserved for world leaders and other distinguished visitors.

The staff trailer, with five bedrooms, has a hierarchy of its own. Mr. Hagin, the most senior staff member at the ranch this week, has a bedroom with its own bathroom. If there is a woman, in this case Lindsey Lineweaver, Mrs. Bush’s personal aide, she merits a room with a private bath. So does the National Security Council representative, who requires private communications capabilities.

That leaves Mr. Bush’s personal aide and the staff secretary, who are forced to brush their teeth in a shared space.

The social stratification does not, however, extend to control of the trailer’s large flat-screen television, which this week has been tuned to evening baseball games. There are Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds and Altanta Braves fans in the trailer, but Mr. Hagin says the aides just pick whichever game looks best.

“We’re very democratic around here,’’ he said.

Presidential Crawford Bunks and Roadblocks

Marine One Hangar and Press Briefing Facility

President Bush with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at a news
conference Monday, August 7, 2006 at Mr. Bush’s ranch. Jason Reed/Reuters

New York Times, 10 August 2006:
So it was that Mr. Bush, joined by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,
held a rare full-scale news conference from an airplane hangar, built for
the presidential helicopter, Marine One, just off his property. The stage
was set just like the White House briefing room — blue curtain, wooden
lectern, oval-shaped sign bearing the presidential seal and the phrase:
“The Western White House, Crawford, Texas.”+


President Bush, left, walks out with Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak following the conclusion of their press conference
Monday, April 12, 2004 in Crawford, Texas. (AP Photo/Pablo
Martinez Monsivais)


Police look on as President Bush walks to Air Force One on
Thursday, Aug. 10, 2006 in Waco, Texas. Bush was briefed
overnight by aides and British Prime Minister Tony Blair on the
terrorist plot to simultaneously blow up several aircraft heading to
the U.S. using explosives smuggled in hand luggage.
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


Secret service agents scan the area from atop
the fire station before President Bush arrived
to vote in the Texas state primary in Crawford,
Texas, Tuesday, March 7, 2006. (AP Photo/
LM Otero),tx&ie=UTF8&t=k&om=0&ll=31.577365,-97.550257&spn=0.00393,0.008497

Sheehan Roadblock No. 1

Cindy Sheehan talks to the media after her peace group marched
to the police road block manned by secret service leading to
President Bush's ranch near Crawford, Texas, Sunday, Aug. 6,
2006. (AP Photo/Ron Hefliin)


A Texas State Trooper keeps an eye on Cindy Sheehan's
Camp Casey 2 near President Bush's ranch in Crawford,
Texas, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2005. (AP Photo/LM Otero),tx&ie=UTF8&t=k&om=0&ll=31.558379,-97.537694&spn=0.003931,0.008497

Roadblock No. 2,tx&ie=UTF8&t=k&om=0&ll=31.557355,-97.570535&spn=0.003931,0.008497


Vietnam veteran Gerry Fonseca of the anit-war group "Veterans
for Peace," clears brush on the site of "Camp Casey" on Thursday,
Aug. 4, 2006 in Crawford, Texas. Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan
bought the property near President Bush's ranch to hold an
anti-war protest. Sheehan arrives in Crawford tomorrow.
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


Peace activist Cindy Sheehan, a vocal opponent of President
Bush and the war in Iraq that claimed the life of her son in 2004,
fills out a voter registration card Tuesday, Aug 8, 2006, at the
Post Office in Crawford, Texas. In the background is a photo of
Bush and the Crawford seal. Sheehan recently bought a five
acre lot in Crawford, more than seven miles (11 km) from
President Bush's Prairie Chapel ranch. (AP Photo/Waco
Tribune Herald, Duane A. Laverty) ** MAGS OUT, NO

Communications Trailers and Staff Housing

This photo provided by the White House shows President Bush,
right, and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley participating
in a teleconference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Sunday,
Aug. 6, 2006 at the Bush Ranch in Crawford, Texas. (AP Photo/
White House, Eric Draper)


President Bush conducts a National Security Council meeting via
teleconference with General John Abizaid, in Crawford, Texas,
Wednesday, April 7, 2004. The President received an update on
military operations in Iraq. Also present is NSC Executive
Secretary Greg Schulte, at right. (AP Photo/White House, Eric Draper)


President Bush looks over papers inside a telecommunications
trailer at the Bush Ranch in Crawford, Texas, Friday, Aug. 9,
2002, during a satellite-linked videoconference with Vice
President Dick Cheney and others. From left are Staff Secretary
Harriet Miers, personal assistant Blake Gottesman and Deputy
Chief of Staff Joe Hagin. (AP Photo/The White House, Eric Draper)


President Bush receives an update on the situation in Iraq during
a National Security Council meeting via video teleconference in
Crawford, Texas, Saturday, April 10, 2004. National Adviser
Condoleezza Rice, center, is also present. (AP Photo/The White
House, Eric Draper),tx&ie=UTF8&t=k&om=0&ll=31.567302,-97.548176&spn=0.003931,0.008497

Helicopter Landing Pad


President Bush escorts Egyptian President HosnI Mubarak upon
his arrival at the Bush Ranch in Crawford, Texas, Monday, April
12, 2004. (AP Photo/Eric Draper, White House),tx&ie=UTF8&ll=31.579961,-97.539496&spn=0.00393,0.008497&t=k&om=0

Old House for Guests and Secret Service Facilities


President Bush and Australian Prime Minister John Howard walk
along a gravel road past Bush's old house following an overnight
stay at the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, Saturday, May 3,
2003. During a joint news conference, Bush thanked Howard for
the help of Australia's military in the war against Iraq. (AP Photo/
J. Scott Applewhite),tx&ie=UTF8&t=k&om=0&ll=31.571442,-97.535806&spn=0.003931,0.008497

Main House

President Bush invites the media to his ranch house, which is
seen in the background, for coffee following their walking tour
of his Prairie Chapel Ranch Thursday, Jan. 2, 2003, in Crawford,
Texas. Bush told the media he will unveil an economic-stimulus
package next week, promising a plan that will benefit all
Americans and rejecting criticism that his policies are tailored
to help the wealthy. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)


President Bush, second from left in brown coat, stands out in front
of his ranch house as he awaits the arrival of Russian President
Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila Putin in Crawford, Texas,
Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2001. (AP Photo/Doug Mills),tx&ie=UTF8&t=k&om=0&ll=31.582191,-97.543842&spn=0.00393,0.008497