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Position Paper

The Victorian parlor of the Texas governor's mansion is a cavernous place, which is a good thing, for the room was full of experts and egos. With their lofty academic pedigrees and service records in GOP administrations, they had come to Austin last summer to teach, to brief and to take the measure of George W. Bush. The topic this day was defense and foreign policy. The lecture began with a flip-chart talk. Within minutes, the governor interrupted. He'd read the briefing book. He had a question. "What's the role of an army in the new century?" There was a stunned silence. Were they witnessing "the lightweight" of enemy lore or a CEO who knew how to cut to the core? Defense expert Richard Armitage stepped in, choosing to view the question as profound. Soon the group was in an impassioned discussion that formed the basis of an insightful speech Bush gave recently on the need to reinvent the military. Now it's exam time at George W. Uuniversity with a distinguished faculty and a student body of one. With the pace of a bar review and the purpose of a government in waiting, the faculty of GWU has spent much of this year training and focusing the governor on the issues he must deal with as a candidate and, if he is lucky, as president. It's an unusual operation in American politics: an almost parliamentary-style "shadow cabinet" stocked with the best and brightest of a GOP establishment that yearns to reclaim power by educating the son of a man many of them worked for. This week the experts will be in Austin again as Dubya works out the final wording and practices defending the details of his first major speech on foreign policy. The address, scheduled for this Friday at the Reagan Library, has become a high-stakes event. After he blew a pop quiz administered by a Boston TV reporter who asked him to name the leaders of global hot spots, critics once again declared that he had neither the wattage nor knowledge to become leader of the free w...

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