WASHINGTON, Aug 5
Ask yourself (or ask Dick Keil): What is Bob Novak doing today? What might be making him feel out of sorts lately? Are any of us truly impervious to pressure?
Ask yourself (or ask Mike Allen): Why did no news organization get reaction from United States Senators on the Roberts/gay rights news? Did the White House even have to send out talking points to keep the Right in line yesterday? Is there a client in the world who John Roberts would have refused to help win a Supreme Court case?
Ask yourself (or ask Tom Davis): Which is more likely -- the positive economic news driving the President's poll numbers up or the negative news out of Iraq driving them down?
In Pittsburgh, the general session of the RNC summer meeting gets underway at 9:15 am ET with RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman taking the stage for remarks shortly thereafter. Later in the day Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and RNC Co-chair Jo Ann Davidson will address the members' luncheon.
President Bush remains with the First Lady in Crawford, TX, with no public events scheduled. Also in Texas: DNC Chairman Howard Dean attends a meet and greet rally with Hidalgo County Democrats at 10:00 am ET. Later, the doctor heads off to a 7:30 pm ET "Welcome Reception" sponsored by Congressman Charlie Gonzalez before gearing up for the 3rd Annual DNC Hispanic Summit. If you find yourself in the neighborhood of San Antonio, be sure to catch Dean's keynote address at 1:15 pm ET.
Roberts: his record:
Will the right please explain to us why information like this can be sensibly ignored?
"Walter A. Smith Jr., the partner at Hogan & Hartson who ran the firm's pro bono program, said that Roberts took part in the firm's initial meeting to consider accepting the case and that his participation, as in all of the firm's pro bono cases, was voluntary," writes Maura Reynolds in her follow-up to yesterday's Los Angeles Times para-blockbuster. LINK
"'Anyone who didn't want to work on a case for whatever matter, they didn't have to,' Smith said. 'He was in on the takeoff and he was in on the landing and was helpful in both.'"
"Some conservative lawyers said they were surprised by Judge Roberts's role in the case," writes Josh Gerstein in the New York Sun. "'If in fact he did this, this would be contrary to everything I've read about him thus far,' Mathew Staver, the president of a conservative legal group, Liberty Counsel, told the Baptist Press. 'For the court to strike that down, I felt, was judicial activism.'" LINK
Gerstein helpfully summarizes conservative reaction for all of us:
Limbaugh: "It is driving a wedge...Conservative Sens. need to do their job, too." Sheldon: Nothing for us to worry about."
Schlafly: "I guess it shows he's not a Scalia. We were hoping to get a Scalia. Maybe he's a Rehnquist."
We'd add: Bill Kristol (on board) and Dr. Dobson (largely on board, but maybe troubled).
The New York Times' Stolberg/Kirkpatrick get above the A1 fold with their pro forma follow, which says this, but with not so many specifics: "The White House immediately sought to reassure Judge Roberts's conservative backers…but it appeared that not all of them had been convinced." LINK
John Roberts might find his headshot put on the body of another on some Bay Area refrigerator magnets. LINK
The Washington Times' Charles Hurt buries Roberts' work for a "gay rights" group in the eleventh paragraph of his story about Rehnquist. LINK
The Los Angeles Times' David Savage takes a long front-page look (sans much new information) at Roberts' time as Ken Starr's deputy in the Solicitor General's office. Perhaps these three graphs will help reassure some conservative leaders who may have been a bit unsettled yesterday. LINK
"They [Roberts and Starr] argued for limiting the scope of civil rights laws, ending race-based affirmative action, restoring some prayers to public schools and overruling Roe vs. Wade, the case that established a woman's right to abortion."
"They sought to make it harder for environmentalists to challenge the government in court. They intervened on the side of Operation Rescue to shield abortion protesters from being sued. And they joined Texas state lawyers in arguing that new evidence of a death row inmate's 'actual innocence' did not entitle him to reopen his case in federal court."
"In the first right-to-die case to reach the Supreme Court, they intervened on the side of then-Missouri Gov. John Ashcroft to argue that state officials may keep a comatose woman alive over the objections of her family."
Roberts: White House strategy:
"In recent days, the White House and its allies have grown concerned that the documents released so far have painted Roberts as a rigid ideologue, and they have sought to provide a more complete portrait," the Washington Post's Becker and Grunwald report. LINK
"Yesterday, the Bush administration released two Reagan-era documents sought by The Washington Post and others under the Freedom of Information Act. The Post request included thousands of other documents, which were not released."
"In one memo, Roberts argued that Reagan should not interfere in a Kentucky case involving the display of the Ten Commandments on public property. In the other, he wrote that the bomber of an abortion clinic should not receive any special consideration for a pardon. 'No matter how lofty or sincerely held the goal, those who resort to violence to achieve it are criminals,' Roberts wrote."
"Advisers to the White House have been urging the Bush team to be more aggressive about providing its own narrative of Roberts."
The Washington Times' Bill Sammon reports that White House operatives and the RNC are quietly working to get regional interest groups to pressure Democratic Senators in places like Arkansas, Louisiana, Colorado and Florida to support Roberts. LINK
Roberts: interest groups:
Jeanne Cummings's must-read in the Wall Street Journal today is a wonderful, detail-laden big-think on the state of Washington interest groups -- masquerading as a story about women's groups trying to influence the SCOTUS fight.
"The troubled state of women's rights groups is shared by many of their traditional allies. Big Labor is falling apart as unions defect from what they claim is a wasteful and antiquated AFL-CIO. Civil-rights groups are fighting a conservative pushback on affirmative action and other issues. And the NAACP, the nation's leading African-American organization, is under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service."
"The challenge for Judge Roberts's opponents is exacerbated by Democrats' reconsideration of how to position themselves with a more conservative electorate. Abortion was among the issues that some political analysts said drove church-going voters to President Bush in last year's election. Now, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, an abortion-rights supporter, is urging his party's messengers to speak more about faith and religion and to downplay issues such as abortion."
"Meanwhile, an array of conservative organizations is stronger than ever. They spent the Clinton years recruiting members and electing lawmakers, particularly to the Senate. High School Bible clubs flourished and anti-abortion organizations established footholds in colleges and universities across the country. The groups helped create a generation of women more receptive to restricting access to abortions and, because of broader access to birth control, less sympathetic to women with unwanted pregnancies, recent polls and focus groups have found."
TNR's Noam Schieber writes that Roberts' Reagan-era memos on civil rights could present political trouble for Republicans even if they don't pose much of a threat to Roberts himself. LINK
The Fitzgerald investigation:
The Washington Times suggests Novak's outburst had less to do with Katherine Harris' honor and more to do with Ed Henry's plans to ask about the CIA leak investigation. LINK
"Laurie Goldberg, a CNN spokeswoman, said it was unclear how long Novak's suspension would last or whether he would continue to be paid while he was off the air," writes Scott Collins of the Los Angeles Times. LINK
The New York Times' Steinberg. LINK
FishBowlDC has some behind-the-scenes info: LINK
RNC summer meeting:
Republican activists gathered in Pittsburgh for the Republican National Committee's summer meeting are buzzing about the special election in Ohio's second congressional district, writes The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's James O'Toole. LINK
Following the Rules Committee meeting (for which he arrived a bit tardy, but made sure his presence was properly recorded before it concluded), Ohio GOP Chairman Bob Bennett offered his post-election analysis to The Note. "It has everything to do with Ohio and nothing to do with the President or Iraq," said Bennett, referring to the recent controversies swirling around Ohio Republican officials.
And in case you felt you couldn't start your weekend without knowing what happened in that Rules Committee meeting, worry no more. New Jersey National Committeeman David Norcross, coming off a successful chairmanship of the Committee of Arrangements for last year's Republican National Convention, was unanimously elected as chairman of the Rules Committee. In his first remarks as chairman, he explained that there would be no discussion of the nominating calendar at this meeting, but that is on the agenda for the 2006 summer meeting.
David Brown of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has some details from yesterday's closed press session. LINK
"A strategy session yesterday included a panel discussion about ways the GOP can attract more blacks, Hispanics, Asians and other groups. Many of the 280 conference participants from all 50 states attended the discussion. The meeting was closed to the press."
"One of the panelists was Harrisburg City Councilman Otto Banks, a black former Democrat who switched to the Republican Party early this year. Banks, who is seeking re-election in November as a Republican, said he spoke in the session about how he became attracted to the GOP because the party offers blacks 'a choice to become captains of our own ship, so to speak.'"
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist Dimitri Vassilaros writes an open letter to RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman urging him to lead an open debate about immigration reform. Vassilaros, who clearly comes down on the Tancredo side as opposed to the Bush/Kyl/Cornyn side, writes, ". . .the GOP's leadership seems indifferent about the infiltration. Does the party hierarchy truly comprehend the intense concern in this nation about illegals? If it hopes to continue winning elections, it is imperative that the GOP do more than simply listen to the not-so-silent bipartisan majority in this republic that is frustrated almost beyond words about the invasion." LINK
The Boston Globe reports that as part of the GOP's affirmative efforts to reach out to young black voters, Ken Mehlman spoke at the National Association of Black Journalists meeting in Atlanta before heading the Pittsburgh and gave the audience his tag line: "Give us a chance, and we'll give you a choice." LINK
TNR's Ryan Lizza got 15 Bush White House reporters to help him probe the mysterious world of SCTTWH ("Sources Close to the White House"). "Despite the swelling ranks of SCTTWH, interviews revealed that there is indeed a core membership that might be called the Usual Suspects: a cadre of lobbyists, congressmen, ex-officials, and other hangers-on who seem to be programmed into every cell phone on the White House beat." LINK
From the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: "After signing the energy bill in Albuquerque, N.M., Monday, he will join economic advisers Hubbard and Bernanke Tuesday to assess conditions. Fears of a 'soft patch' fade, as data on industrial output, capital spending and services portray an economy 'firing on all cylinders,' says UBS economist Larry Hatheway."
"Still, wage increases lag behind despite low unemployment, and high gas prices still damp consumer spirits. A break in house-price increases remains a risk; mortgage rates inch up but stay low. Today's July jobless report will give more clues to the labor market's health."
Politics of national security:
". . .as the military announced five more U.S. fatalities Thursday, bringing to 26 the number of Americans killed in the first three days of the month, the Bush administration faced the reality that August is on track to becoming one of the bloodiest months since the war began. And polls suggest the deaths are straining the patience of Americans, increasing the pressure on the administration to develop an exit strategy," write Jeff Zeleny, Michael Martinez, and Liz Sly of the Chicago Tribune. LINK
The Washington Post's Jim VandeHei sees Bush as defiant in the face of Zawahiri's threat. LINK
The Washington Times' Joseph Curl has Bush "standing firm" and refusing to give into "thugs." LINK
The Des Moines Register's Thomas Beaumont compares the all-around candidate stats -- and projected performance ratings -- in a potential Bayh vs. Vilsack match up. Whereas Gov. Vilsack doesn't have that pesky, heavily-scrutinized Hill voting record trailing him around, he lacks the Senate national security credentials of Evan Bayh. LINK
Maureen Groppe of the Indianapolis Star writes that Sen. Bayh is playing the Iowa field early (just as an initially unknown Jimmy Carter once did in Bayh's father's political days) before settling in on a 2008 presidential bid. Adhering to a win-'em-over-just-in-case campaign strategy, the Senator has spent these Hawkeye days getting personal (with the likes of Rep. Leonard Boswell) and making policy (proposals). The latter includes boosting national security morale and increasing employment. LINK
The Washington Post's Brian Faler thinks it's too soon to tell what the effect of Vilsack's restoration of voting rights for felons will be in Iowa, though he Notes that it's expected to help Democrats. LINK
Sen. Clinton (D-NY) and former Rep. Susan Molinari (R-NY) "gushed over one another" yesterday, reports the New York Daily News. LINK
The New York Post tries to create controversy regarding Sen. Clinton and some transportation money from the Feds. LINK
The Washington Post's Brian Faler sees an "awkward problem" for Hillary Clinton in a new Quinnipiac poll: "A clear majority of her constituents want Clinton to pledge to serve a full six-year term. Sixty percent -- including 59 percent of Democrats -- said they want her to promise to serve a complete term." LINK
A New York Post op-ed piece attacks Sen. McCain for his Reform Institute ties. LINK
Gov. Romney is having a hard time getting his nominee for a juvenile court judgeship confirmed. < LINK
The New Times' Cardwell writes about Ferrer vs. Bloomberg on housing, leading to Loeser (slashing) and Koch (so cynical). LINK
Deborah Orin (playing for the New York Post) stirs herself to write about Howard Dean verging towards (in her view) public irrelevance. LINK
Former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey is set to write a "tell-all" book, reports the Associated Press. ReganBooks will publish the tome, but no word on when it will come out (so to speak) nor on how much McGreevey is getting paid for it. However, the AP does inform that McGreevey has an unpublished telephone number. LINK
Melanie Eversley writes for USA Today that the Voting Rights Act, portions of which expire in 2007, "remains a hedge against discriminatory election practices long after the civil-rights battles in the South ended." LINK
Rep. Tom DeLay spoke on immigration law last night, and said he supported legislation that would withhold federal funding to cities that do not enforce immigration laws. DeLay was openly criticized the city of Houston for being an immigrant, "sanctuary," and supported local police who find illegal immigrants. "If you pick up 50 or 100 of them, you can call the National Guard . . . . Put them in tents'" LINK
In preparation for the Democratic National Leadership Summit in September. Sen. Reid met with young Latinos in Houston yesterday, who urged the Senator to further job and educational opportunities. LINK