WASHINGTON, Aug 12
There are most certainly some grand short- and long-term lessons to be drawn from (and implications that will derive from) the NARAL ad withdrawal, the Abramoff indictment, the Los Angeles Times Schwarzenegger story, and the multiple "The Situation Room" showings of yesterday's newsless interview with Bill Clinton.
But more most certainly, today is likely to be about Casey Sheehan and George Casey.
The war in Iraq is bigger than all of those things listed in Paragraph One, and wars don't take summer vacations.
There is really only one must-read newspaper story, today, and it is Peter Baker's tour de force news analysis piece on the politics of the war in the Washington Post. LINK
There is so much important analysis and reporting in this piece, we do not dare quote very much, lest you be tempted not to read it in full.
But check out this: "Pentagon plans call for increasing the 17-brigade U.S. troop presence this fall by a brigade or two, or about 10,000 troops, before bringing it down to about 15 brigades next spring and possibly to about 12 brigades by the end of 2006, according to officers familiar with the planning. The near-term increase would cover the constitutional referendum scheduled for Oct. 15 and national elections set for Dec. 15, a period in which U.S. military authorities expect violence to intensify, much as it did during the run-up to January's interim elections."
Seriously: read the whole thing. Then decide in your mind if you think President Bush will ever meet with Cindy Sheehan; then decide in your mind if you think the journalists in Crawford want the President to meet with her; then do some Google work to get a sense of the lay of the land in the Waco Metroplex; and then, and only then, focus on the events of the day there.
President Bush heads a couple of miles down the road today from his ranch to Broken Spoke Ranch. He will host the annual RNC appreciation luncheon/fundraiser for big (in terms of contributions, not girth) donors. Lunch is scheduled to get underway at 1:00 pm ET and it is closed to the press.
ABC News' Jon Garcia reports, "This year the event will raise more than $2 million from about 230 folks. All of those invited attendees have given more than $25,000 to the RNC this year and will include some Pioneers and Rangers. RNC says Chairman Ken Mehlman will introduce the president, who will attend without First Lady Laura Bush. Karl Rove will attend but is not expected to speak and it's unclear if Secretary of State Rice... will attend."
Garcia also points out that "the quickest, most direct, and usual route from Bush's ranch to the Broken Spoke will take the motorcade right by the makeshift tent city started by Cindy Sheehan and her supporters. We expect Bush to use the usual route, but we are keeping in mind there are alternate routes to avoid the drive by."
In other news, at 10:30 am ET, the group heading up the political opposition to President Bush's Social Security reform efforts, Americans United to Protect Social Security, holds a Washington, DC ceremony to kick off nationwide celebrations of the 70th anniversary of Social Security. FDR grandson James Roosevelt will be on hand for the festivities.
C-SPAN's America & The Courts continues its focus on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts in advance of his Senate confirmation hearings scheduled to begin on September 6. Saturday night at 7:00 pm ET C-SPAN will focus on Roberts' arguments before the Court in NCAA v. Smith (1999) and Rice v. Cayetano (1999).
At 8:30 pm ET tomorrow evening, President Bush is scheduled to attend the Little League Baseball Southwest Region Championship Game at Marvin Norcross Stadium in Waco, Texas.
The Family Research Council's "Justice Sunday II: God Save the United States and this Honorable Court!" featuring Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) and former Sen. Zell Miller (D-GA) is scheduled to get underway at 7:00 pm ET on Sunday at the Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, TN and simulcast via satellite in churches around the country.
The politics of Iraq:
The New York Times story about the President's Crawford remarks on Iraq unusually outs the source for yesterday's Washington Post story that had background quotes from a U.S. military official in Iraq tamping down withdrawal expectations: "Military officials in Washington said on Thursday that the senior military official quoted was General Casey." LINK
The Los Angeles Times ledes its coverage with the President's labeling any exit strategy as "speculation." LINK
The Schwarzenegger Era:
The Los Angeles Times' Peter Nicholas and Carla Hall revisit Gigi Goyette and report on a confidentiality agreement she signed with American Media Inc. refusing her the ability to disclose any "interactions" she had with Arnold Schwarzenegger to anyone other than American Media Inc. But American Media, which was negotiating a consulting deal with Candidate Schwarzenegger in August 2003, apparently had far less interest in her exclusive than in her silence. Goyette was paid $20,000 for signing the agreement, reports the Times. Gov. Schwarzenegger is on vacation and unavailable to comment, according to Rob Stutzman. LINK
Though, as Stutzman Notes, there is no conclusive link between Schwarzenegger's business dealings with AMI and the company's desire to buy the silence from those who could be damaging to him, we would guess there will be lots of pickup on the story nonetheless.
NARAL v. Roberts:
Judge Roberts and his supporters at the White House and the RNC scored a big victory when the abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America crumbled to a barrage of criticism from many quarters and yanked its ad from the airwaves. The victory, of course, is not getting the ad off the air. The victory is reminding all the players and observers of this process who is on offense and who on defense. And perhaps more importantly, the incident will cause Roberts' opponents on the left to be a bit more gun shy going forward.
The New York Times. LINK
In his Boston Globe column apparently written before the abortion rights group decided to pull the commercial from the airwaves, Scot Lehigh Notes his outrage at the NARAL "smear ad" on John Roberts. LINK
Ditto for EJ Dionne of the Washington Post. LINK
And the Washington Post ed board. LINK
The questions now: who does the NARAL internal tick tock to see how this happened? What lessons does Howard Dean draw from this episode? And does Steve Schmidt's hand hurt from all the high-fiving?
To those of you covering the Roberts nomination. . . enjoy your weekend. The White House Counsel Harriet Miers promises lots of Roberts' Reagan-era documents to come on Monday.
David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times -- owning his beat -- previews Justice Sunday the Sequel and looks at the debate and posturing on religion, Judge Roberts, and what Senators can properly ask him. LINK
The New York Times reads more inconclusive, color-laden Roberts memos. LINK
"As a Justice Department lawyer in the early 1980s, John G. Roberts Jr. said it was regrettable that the Reagan administration had not pressed the Supreme Court to uphold a Texas law barring the children of illegal immigrants from attending public schools, according to documents released Thursday," write the Los Angeles Times' Reynolds and Savage of the latest Roberts memos to be made public. LINK
If Abramoff (and therefore DeLay) garners this much attention for a completely unrelated case to the one being investigated in Washington, just imagine the tenor of the coverage when/if that grand jury makes its intentions known.
The Washington Post's James Grimaldi writes that "Abramoff's dealings with SunCruz were intertwined with his relationships with powerful members of Congress and their staffs. As the negotiations warmed up, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's office -- he was the House minority whip then -- gave Boulis a flag that had flown over the Capitol. And as the SunCruz deal was closing, Abramoff brought his lead financier to a DeLay fundraiser in the lobbyist's box at FedEx Field during a Monday Night Football game between the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys." LINK
Grimaldi also reports that Mike Scanlon's lawyers "been in discussions with the Justice Department for several months."
The Los Angeles Times waits until paragraph two to mention Tom DeLay's name. LINK
The New York Times: LINK
The Wall Street Journal story focuses heavily on the potential political implications.
"The U.S. indictment of Jack Abramoff on fraud charges in Florida may reverberate throughout Washington as federal prosecutors increase pressure on the Republican lobbyist to cooperate in other investigations," write Bloomberg's Jensen and Forsythe. LINK
Lawyers for DeLay, who run the committee, deny the claim arguing there are "technical" errors with the numbers, reports the Houston Chronicle. LINK
The Fitzgerald investigation:
Later today the Center for American Progress will fill the void left by the late Notice that the grand jury looking into the leak investigation will not meet today and launch a website detailing the connections of twenty-one Bush folks to the leak investigation. The hyper-organized Center says it will update the site regularly to reflect new developments in the case. LINK
In an age when the general public would be shocked at the degree to which major news organizations are wholly dependent on interest groups for their research, this one will get some Gang of 500 bookmarking.
A former federal prosecutor from California uses a Los Angeles Times op-ed to explain why she thinks all the pundits are wrong and that the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 is still very much in play in Fitzgerald's investigation. LINK
From John Harwood's…wait…Jacob Schlesinger's Washington Wire: "Liberals plan anti-privatization 'birthday parties' around Social Security's 70th anniversary Sunday, including appearance by an FDR grandson at the FDR Memorial, and balloons for Washington Mall tourists. Republicans now see private accounts likely to pass House but fail in Senate, turning the program into a 2006 campaign issue."
The Associated Press reports, "The Commerce Department reports that the U.S. trade deficit rose to $58.8 billion in June as imported petroleum hit an all-time high."
Paul Krugman on the housing market (again). LINK
Read also the important Wall Street Journal front-pager on this topic.
Both Ed Cox and John Spencer vowed to stay in the race for the GOP nomination despite all the hoopla surrounding Jeanine Pirro's candidacy, reports Marc Humbert of the AP. LINK
This doesn't quite square with what New York GOP Chairman Minarik said on NY1 News last night when he spoke of the 62 county chairs taking the next month or so to take a look and figure out which candidate the party will support.
Picking up a New York Observer Politicker item (and thus acknowledging Ben Smith as their de facto assignment editor), the New York Times gets the words "mob ties" and "Pirro" in the same headline. LINK
The New York Daily News is on the "mob" donation trail too, and with a longer list. LINK
The Boston Globe's Greenberger reports, Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) will make his third trip to Michigan next month and will speak at a "really big time, premier event," says one top Michigan lobbyist. Sen. John McCain and several other 2008 GOP hopefuls are also planning on attending. LINK
Charlotte Eby of the Sioux City Journal writes on Tom Vilsack's "New Iowan Centers" focused on welcoming "immigrant and refugee populations" to the Hawkeye State. LINK
The New York Times on Weiner going after Ferrer. LINK
"The eight-page glossy pamphlet that Mayor Bloomberg's campaign is flooding mailboxes with came from a California-based consultant who once used a swastika to paint an opponent as anti-Semitic," reports Maggie Haberman of the New York Daily News. LINK
The Manchester Union Leader's DiStaso's excellent reporting produced these two leading graphs in his must-read follow to the AP's revelation concerning financial help for James Tobin courtesy of the RNC. LINK
"A New Hampshire member of the Republican National Committee was 'uncomfortable' to learn that the RNC has used its donors' contributions to pay more than $700,000 in legal bills for accused 2002 GOP phone-jamming conspirator James Tobin."
"'It was a surprise to me,' said Nancy Merrill. She noted that RNC Chair Ken Mehlman recently pledged a zero-tolerance policy on tampering with voters, and said, 'If this kind of expenditure deflects from that policy, then I'm uncomfortable with it.'"
Over to you, Ken.
The New York Times plays catch up on the Census Bureau majority-minority story. LINK