To rule the world, dial star-zero

For 17 years, four political heavyweights have started their day with a conference call

If politics is a world where status is determined by which conference call you’re on, then this one is the top of the heap: a daily early-morning call whose participants include veteran Democratic strategists James Carville and Paul Begala, talk-TV host George Stephanopoulos, and White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel. The calls began 17 years ago, when the four were trying to get Bill Clinton elected president. They never stopped, but they are newly relevant because Emmanuel is running the White House for President Barack Obama. The groggy power brokers wear their influence lightly, it’s said: “They talk like they are girls,” Carville’s wife Mary Matalin says.