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This is my first post here. I hope I am welcomed.

An article of Associated Press says,
" One of most disciplined White Houses in recent memory — things happen on time, officials don't stray off-message — is largely a product of trust, not fear, aides say."
I know "White House" means "chief of staff" in this context, as I read the news, but my point is: Would you use White House for that?

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You are indeed welcome to English Forums, Kanjin.

Yes, 'White House' used to represent its staff is a common language technique; it is called 'metonymy'.

If you google on that word, you should find more examples, like 'Washington' used for the US Government, and 'The Crown' used for the Queen (of England, or wherever).
Thank you, Mister Micawber, for your kind reply.

I accept now White House can mean chief of staff.

Of course, I know now that a language is not rocket science and that it is not always consistent nor logical, but this one is a bit difficult to swallow. It is easy to infer that Washington can be US goverment, the Crown can be the Queen. If we follow this logic, then White House should be US president.
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And I wasn't reading carefully, Kanjin-- in your quote, I don't think 'White House' means 'chief of staff' but means the entire staff, which in this case is well-disciplined, i.e. well-organized.

Here is a further quote from that news article: ' "Any time a White House gets complimented for running a tight ship ... you have to give the chief of staff credit for that," said Leon Panetta.' They are speaking of this 'White House', the one managed by Andy Card under George Bush. There have been many 'White Houses' in the past-- a different one under each Chief of Staff.

You are right that 'White House' usually refers to the incumbent president, so here it has been used a little differently, and I think it may not even be metonymy, since it is referring to the actual adminstration of the White House.
Mister Micawber, I understand it more. It is quite clear by the phrase "this 'White House', the one managed by Andy Card under George Bush."

One more gripe.
The article says in the beginning; ---, making him the longest-serving tenant in his office in nearly a half-century. One of most disciplined White Houses in recent memory---.
Then it writes, as you quoted; "Any time a White House gets complimented for running a tight ship ... you have to give the chief of staff credit for that," said Leon Panetta---.

Wouldn't you think this is a little confusing?
Yes, the references shift a bit. Below I have pulled all the clauses that include the words 'White House' and placed in brackets after the words what I feel is the reference:

'One of most disciplined White Houses [= White House staffs/organizations] in recent memory — things happen on time, officials don't stray off-message — is largely a product of trust, not fear, aides say.

He doesn't see any need to repeat his well-known ban on "flapping jaws," a category that includes leaking White House [= US President] decisions before they're announced, discussing the president's thinking about decisions yet to be made or publicly airing White House [= US President?/staff?] dirty laundry.

"Any time a White House [= US President] gets complimented for running a tight ship ... you have to give the chief of staff credit for that," said Leon Panetta, one of several men who held the post under President Clinton.

Still, he said a tightly controlled White House [= WH working space] environment can inhibit the free discussion a president sometimes needs.

Card, who has worked under eight White House [= building/organization] chiefs of staff, is the man who most often delivers important news to Bush.

He will not publicly contemplate life after the White House [= the building/job].'

I have not tried to analyze similar situations, but I would imagine that it is not uncommon to permit an image to shift specific references slightly in the course of an extended presentation on the topic. It might normally be to the advantage of both reader and writer; here for instance, the White House operation does indeed include all of these various facets, and using the same phrase is a simple expedient for referring to it all.

Gambate kudasai.
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Thank you for the detailed and thorogh explanation.
It has been quite frustrating to find a writer uses words for differnt meanings in the same page, but I understand that it is a way to utilize a word, and he can write his thoughts to a greater extent, htough I don't think I will do it.
Thank you again.