The Note: A Soul, a Spirit Capable of Compassion



We are back but we are rusty, so let's start out in our role as masters of the obvious.

There are only two big political stories for the foreseeable future.

They aren't tax reform and Social Security personal savings accounts.

They aren't even gas prices and Iraq.

The Gang of 500 CW is pretty clear on what it thinks about one of the two big stories:

This is the most politically perilous time of the Bush presidency, blah, blah, blah.

President Bush's public performance from Day One has been weak, blah, blah, blah.

The only things more outrageous than Michael Brown heading FEMA are the federal government's failure to prepare (even though there were reports predicting all this); the President's statement on "Good Morning America" that no one could have predicted the levees would break; and the Administration's failure to defy two centuries of federalism and usurp state and local law enforcement, medical, and other functions from the get-go; blah, blah, blah.

(Note to Rush: these are the CW, not what we think. . .)

On the other big story, the musings of the Gang are all over the map, but we have it pretty much figured out:

As soon as the Roberts hearings are scheduled and the nomination is on enough of a glide path that Steve Schmidt relaxes down to DEFCON 4, the President will announce that his candidate for the O'Connor seat is a media-savvy, experienced, oblique, stealthy Hispanic woman whose resume is filled with things like she was never a member of the Federalist Society, but she attended some key Federal Society meetings.

Now: if it appears there is no one like that on the planet, the President will pick Al Gonzales, after making sure that the Brownbacks and Inhofes and McCains of the world will support him, and the White House will (secretly) welcome the opposition of a few conservative groups (making Gonzales seem more moderate), knowing that many members of the pro-Roberts coalition will be for whomever the President picks, including Gonzales.

Now: if it turns out that in fact the conservative opposition is SO strong that even a president not inclined to be bullied or told what to do by anyone can't ignore the reality of the vote count, then he won't pick Gonzales. (Out of respect for the President and because they are tactically nimble, fierce anti-Gonzales lobbying during the first round was done as quietly as possible, but there was tons of it, which you probably don't know unless you are a very well-placed conservative.)

Also, ABC News has learned that Al Gonzales is not a woman, and that the First Lady and Justice O'Connor are aware of this also.

In other words: we don't know who the President will pick.

There are two threshold questions: (1) is Gonzales in fact in play?; and (2) are white men in play?

Until and unless you can answer those questions, you can't really handicap the field. [So please stop trying.]

As to the media's new favorite Bush-in-trouble storyline, the New York Times writes this:

"But the political climate Mr. Bush faces now is very different from the one that prevailed in July, as he initially selected Judge Roberts for Justice O'Connor's seat. The federal government's much-criticized response to suffering inflicted by Hurricane Katrina, on top of the continued bloodshed in Iraq and high gasoline prices, has eaten into Mr. Bush's political strength, emboldening his opponents and potentially creating pressure on him to avoid an all-out ideological battle over the next nomination."

It is true that the political climate has changed in many ways, but we don't think it really changes the calculus from the White House's point of view.

They wanted to avoid "an all-out ideological battle" on the first nomination, and they do now.

They had to consider racial/gender issues before, and they do now (yes, even more, but not because of the changed climate, but because they already picked a white man, and because O'Connor and FLOTUS spoke out).

As before, they have to find someone who the liberal press won't crucify while making conservatives comfortable that the President is living up to his core campaign promise to move the Court to the right.

Democrats might be feeling "emboldened," but they don't seem to have public opinion dramatically on their side on these issues, and they remain very disorganized and divided about tactics.

Most important, the White House has the votes to confirm the next pick in the Senate if they make a smart choice, as is true with Roberts.

In short: the climate is most certainly different, but all of the fundamentals are the same.

If the White House can find another person who doesn't reek of in-your-face to the Democrats, who is also conservative enough to satisfy the President and the base, that is who will be picked. To the extent they don't select such a person, it will be because Roberts was unique -- not because the President is reacting to pressure.

A "normal" president might in fact react to the pressure. But if you have been paying attention, you know that George Bush isn't like that. To him, this is an important, serious, and historic decision, not something to let Anderson Cooper or the mayor of New Orleans decide.

As for Katrina, here is one thing you should know about the White House (and which we think the White House knows): the two attempts at page turning (saying the President was mad and semi-quietly -- and with much justification -- blaming local and state officials) didn't work and won't work.

That leaves two things to do: substantively, improve facts on the ground; and politically, make sure that the Bush-era usual partisan divide holds now that Congress has returned (that is, make sure that the Hill inquiries aren't unbridled, make sure the GOP criticism is muted, make sure the talking points are distributed, make sure talk radio and the blogs are on message, etc. You know: like a well-run campaign. Because the other side is, most assuredly, in campaign mode already.).

President Bush's official schedule is dominated by Hurricane Katrina related events today, all of which are scheduled to take place at the White House. His first public event is a cabinet meeting at 10:00 am ET. Later this morning (at 11:15 am ET) he meets with representatives from national voluntary and charitable organizations. Both of those events will be pool coverage at the bottom. President Bush will take to the Rose Garden at 2:10 pm ET to make a statement on efforts to assist students and school districts displaced by the hurricane. The event is open press.

In the Oval Office at 2:35 pm ET, President Bush will meet with the bipartisan leadership from the House and Senate to discuss the federal government's continued efforts to aid the victims of the hurricane. The meeting will be closed press.

At the morning gaggle, White House spokesman Scott McClellan refused to directly answer questions about whether President Bush would fire FEMA Director Mike Brown. McClellan said that while the press is interested in playing the blame game, the White House is focused on helping people.

The confirmation hearings on the (initial) Roberts nomination, originally scheduled to begin today in the Judiciary Committee, have been postponed. The Judiciary Committee hearings on the nomination of John Roberts to Chief Justice of the United States may begin as early as Thursday and as late as next Monday. Sens. Frist and Specter are expected to make a 10:45 am ET announcement regarding the scheduling of the postponed hearings.

The Senate convenes for morning business at noon ET with lots of floor speeches on Katrina and Rehnquist. At 5:30 pm ET there will be a vote on a resolution supporting those affected by Hurricane Katrina. The Senate will also authorize federal and bankruptcy courts to convene outside their jurisdiction before being briefed at 6:00 pm ET by Secretaries Chertoff, Snow, Leavitt, Jackson, and possibly others.

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist will lie in repose in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court today and tomorrow. The public is invited to pay respects from 10:30 am ET until 10 pm ET today and from 10 am ET until noon ET tomorrow.

The casket carrying Chief Justice Rehnquist will arrive at the Supreme Court at 10:00 am ET. The Associate Justices will line up on the steps of the Court to the south of the entrance, and former Rehnquist clerks will line up on the north side with the casket passing between them.

Former Rehnquist clerk and potential successor, John Roberts, will be among the clerks participating as a pallbearer.

The 2:00 pm ET funeral service on Wednesday at St. Matthew's Cathedral will be open to friends and family and print reporters. There will be no television coverage inside the funeral, at this writing.

The burial service at Arlington National Cemetery will take place later Wednesday afternoon and closed to the press.

At 11:15 am ET, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) hold a news conference on Hurricane Katrina relief.

Both the Republican and Democratic caucus policy committees will meet at 12:30 pm ET. We expect to hear from both parties at the Ohio Clock stakeout.

Sen. Domenici (R-NM) is scheduled to hold a hearing on gasoline prices and factors contributing to current high prices at 2:30 pm ET. We wonder if he will be asked about his aide's recent remarks to the Los Angeles Times on the future of the President's agenda.

House Majority Leader Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) will hold a pen and pad briefing at 1:30 pm ET.

The House convenes at 2:00 pm ET. Among the first orders of business to be discussed will be "various pieces of legislation to help Katrina victims and to stabilize the region," according to one senior Republican aide. Other issues under discussion this week will include Coast Guard reauthorization, immigration, and Social Security. Members will also gear up for reconciliation bills.

The O'Connor seat:

From Peter Baker in the Washington Post, the most key handicapping we have seen: "Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), a Bush ally, said yesterday that the president will probably name a woman or a minority to replace the nation's first female justice and offered a vigorous defense of Gonzales. 'He would be a very good nominee and one that I would be happy to support,' Cornyn said. 'I've read about these concerns from some conservatives, and I really wonder where they are getting some of these strange ideas.'"

The Wall Street Journal's Cummings and Bravin quote the hyper-aware Leonard Leo thusly: "There's no question in my mind with what's on the president's plate right now, the war and Katrina in particular, he is not going to create more uncertainty by abandoning the base on this issue."

The Wall Street Journal ed board applauds the Roberts pick on politics and substance, and gently lays down the gauntlet: "Especially with his other troubles, Mr. Bush can't afford to alienate his most loyal supporters in the hope of buying a confirmation truce."

"White House officials signaled that there would not be an announcement this week and that they saw no real possibility of having a nominee for that seat confirmed by the start of the new term," writes Richard Stevenson of the New York Times. LINK

Stevenson also writes, "A senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of personnel issues, said Mr. Bush's decision on the next nominee would not be swayed by the politics of the moment. But the official made a point of saying that Mr. Bush was considering candidates 'from all walks of life,' signaling that the administration was sensitive to the pressure to nominate a woman or a member of a minority to replace Justice O'Connor."

"Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who's close to the White House, predicted Bush will tap a woman or a minority for O'Connor's seat," reports the New York Post's Deborah Orin. LINK

With conservatives and liberals agreeing that Roberts is on track to be confirmed, the focus was "already shifting to what both sides believe will be the real battle: Bush's yet-to-be-named pick to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor," the Washington Post's Jo Becker reports. LINK

USA Today's Mark Memmott tries again to give the press what it wants, without really explaining why a battle will happen this time: "Now that there are two Supreme Court seats to fill, a relatively quiet debate among interest groups is expected to become the more bitter, multimillion-dollar slugfest opposing sides have long anticipated." LINK

The Los Angeles Times Savage and Weinstein in their daily story say that Gonzales and Clement are O'Connor moderates: LINK

They also do the thing we find most troubling, quoting a legal expert as if he is a political expert (Note to our print colleagues: please stop doing this):

"'The realpolitik of the situation is a president who is low in the polls, facing considerable difficulty externally with Iraq and internally with [Hurricane] Katrina will have more difficulty holding his party together than not,' [Douglas] Kmiec said. 'That will not augur well for a … conservative nominee.'" (This quote is doubly problematic, because it doesn't make much sense.)

The Los Angeles Times Savage explains why O'Connor's pledge to stay on is almost certainly meaningless because it won't stop cases from having to be reargued or ending in ties. LINK

The Los Angeles Times ed board likes the Roberts pick and/but says that Gonzales should be ruled out for the other chair. LINK

The O'Connor seat: the short list(s):

In this section we provide you with the names being floated throughout today's news stories and editorials. For your easier reading, we have listed the names alphabetically and, where appropriate, have indicated the tone of the mention as either positive (pos) or negative (neg). If the mention is neutral, we have just listed the name.

Los Angeles Times: Brown, Clement, Garza, Gonzales, Jones, Luttig, Owen, Thompson, Wilkinson

Wall Street Journal: Clement, Corrigan, Gonzales, Jones, Luttig, Williams

Wall Street Journal ed board: Alito (pos), Brown (pos), Jones (pos), Luttig (pos), McConnell (pos), Olson (pos), Thompson (pos), Wilkinson (pos)

New York Times: Clement, Gonzales, Jones, Luttig, McConnell, Owen, Wilkinson

Washington Post: Clement, Garza, Gonzales (reporter channeling conservatives generally: neg; Sen. Cornyn on the record: pos), Jones, Luttig, Owen, Wilkinson (neg)

USA Today: Alito, Brown, Clement, Garza, Gonzales, Jones, Luttig, McConnell, Thompson, Wilkinson

New York Post: Clement, Garza, Gonzales, Jones, Thompson

Roberts for Chief Justice: the politics:

The opposition: Outside liberal interest groups immediately reasserted their opposition to Roberts' confirmation. Democrats are seizing upon the nomination promotion as an opening to press (again) for more access to documents and a greater level of scrutiny. Sen. Kennedy (D-MA) would like to see whom the President nominates for O'Connor's seat before voting on Roberts. What the leverage is for all these "demands" remains to be seen.

Per the Washington Post's Peter Baker: "In elevating Roberts, Bush chose the candidate most likely to be confirmed in short order by the Senate, which was poised to ratify the appeals court judge for O'Connor's seat." LINK

The Washington Post's ed board positively reviews Bush's decision to nominate Roberts to replace Rehnquist. LINK

The New York Times editorial board uses the opportunity to ask for more information and declares that Roberts is not a "shoo-in." LINK

In contrast with the more combative Scalia, the Washington Post's Charles Lane sees the "mellower" Roberts as "an effective force for conservatism on the court." LINK

ABC's polling director Gary Langer reports on some poll findings that have been overtaken by events, but worth sharing nonetheless.

"Fifty-seven percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll, completed last week, said the Senate should confirm Roberts as an associate justice. The survey was conducted before his nomination as chief justice, following the death of William Rehnquist."

"While there were sharp partisan divisions, even Democrats favored Roberts' confirmation, albeit just by an eight-point margin, 42-34 percent. Independents favored him by a 26-point margin; Republicans, by a huge 77-point gap, 83-6 percent."

The Hill's Elana Schorr writes that 25 Democrats could vote for Roberts. LINK

The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne opines that by "proposing that Roberts lead the court, Bush has given liberal groups a chance to regroup and argue that this battle is no longer a practice session for the next round. It is the next round." LINK

How, exactly, that "regrouping" will bare fruit is beyond us.

In a Washington Post op-ed, George Mason Law Professor Ronald D. Rotunda defends Roberts' decision not to recuse himself in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. LINK

Morning Show summary:

After agreeing to participate in a town hall meeting on ABC's "Good Morning America," Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D) took a lot of heat from constituents who wanted to know why more had not been done to shore up the levees. After she pointed to the future and said that the Army Corps of Engineers budget had been cut and that the feds "have more of the answers that I do," a Louisiana woman told the governor, "I don't think that's a good answer."

When, at the top of NBC's "Today" show, the headline out of Matt Lauer's mouth is "progress" accompanied by a lower-third banner reading "turning the tide," it is probably the beginning of a better news cycle for President Bush than the last seven have been.

NBC's Russert spoke of the President's continued efforts at replacing "callousness" with "compassion" in terms of his perceived response to Katrina. Russert also went on to say that, in the wake of Katrina, some moderate Republicans may be looking for a moderate/consensus nominee to replace O'Connor on the Supreme Court, but he didn't name a one of 'em.

Recapping an earlier conversation, Imus mentioned to Tim Russert that he told Newsweek's Evan Thomas: No, you don't expect the President to be God. "But you do expect him to be Rudolph Giuliani."

The politics of Katrina: Bush test:

The Wall Street Journal's must-read lead editorial that:

-- Says Katrina threatens the President's entire second term.

-- Demands Mr. Bush acknowledge that DHS and FEMA failed.

-- Sounds a Hastertian Note on the rebuilding of New Orleans.

-- Says Katrina buried Social Security reform for now: "Katrina makes reform impossible in the near term."

-- Calls on the President to watch over the taxpayers' interests during rebuilding, champion tax cuts, and exercise more visible leadership.

In the news pages, the Wall Street Journal's McKinnon and Preciphs look at the economic planning of the White House, with a focus on jobs and rebuilding -- and African-American outreach.

"But just how well Mr. Bush would endure the political challenges posed by the hurricane, much less prevail over them, remained a question on Monday," writes Todd Purdum of the New York Times. And don't miss Bill Kristol pining away for Bill Clinton (well, sorta pining). LINK

USA Today's Keen and Benedetto vaguely reference some internal White House emails from Saturday night and then say this about Bush aides: "They concluded that for Bush's remaining 40 months in office, they should expect almost anything, said a top adviser who works closely with Bush. 'We've just kind of realized that if things are going to happen, they're going to happen to this president,' he said…." LINK

They also raise the question of when the President will bike again, and how radically Katrina changes the focus of his time for the foreseeable future.

A cliché-addled Senate GOP leadership aide tells Roll Call's Mark Preston: "This is the perfect storm for the president…. We have rising gas prices, patience running thin with the war in Iraq and now Katrina. Coupled with lame-duck status, it is an uphill battle for him."

The New York Post plays up Barbara Bush's public radio comments about the conditions at the Houston Astrodome. LINK

The politics of Katrina: Congress reacts:

The Wall Street Journal's Rogers and Fialka have the best congressional agenda story, with a focus on what the majority party wants to do about energy prices (free market solutions beckon) and about the powerful Midwestern ag interests who have a stake in the emergency too.

And check out the populist, profane bravado from Frist spokesguy Bob Stevenson in the New York Times: "'Oil companies,' Mr. Stevenson said, 'have a responsibility to ensure that the prices reflected at the pump are at reasonable levels, and should that not be the case, I would expect there could be hell to pay in Congress.'" LINK

The Washington Post's Shailagh Murray and Charles Babington label Dr./Leader/Sen. Frist's decision to shelve temporarily a Senate vote to permanently repeal the estate tax as "one sign of GOP unease." LINK

The Washington Post's ed board thinks Frist was wise to postpone a vote on repealing the estate tax. LINK

Janet Hook in the Los Angeles Times on the congressional agenda: LINK

The politics of Katrina: 41/42/43:

The best part of the Nagourney/Broder New York Times look at the Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton dynamic comes at the very end when we get our first public glimpse into how Sen. Clinton sees her role in political affairs in comparison to her husband. LINK

"'He is no longer in politics,' she said. 'He is a former president with an enormous amount of influence and just as during the tsunami, he is willing to serve his country. He has expressed strong feelings about the way this has been handled. My role is different. I'm on the front lines dealing with these issues day to day.'"

We trust that first part of the quote will appear in a "She said it…" RNC press release on a date still to be determined.

Former President Clinton told CNN: "Our government failed those people in the beginning, and I take it now there is no dispute about it. One hundred percent of the people I've talked to here recognize that it was a failure, and I personally believe that there should be a serious analysis of it." LINK

The Washington Times' Jennifer Harper Noticed Bill and Hillary Clinton's "tag-team" action on Hurricane Katrina yesterday with the former president saying "there should be an analysis of what happened" and the former first lady calling for the creation of a Katrina Commission. LINK

The Washington Times' Bill Sammon Notes that former President Clinton "suggested he had been more attentive to the dangers of flooding in New Orleans than his successor." LINK

The politics of Katrina: assigning blame:

The Wall Street Journal's front-page look focuses on federal blame, while a former state legislator named Bob Williams gives strong voice on the paper's op-ed page to explaining why Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco deserve perhaps more of the blame (We wonder how this op-ed got placed. . .).

". . .to be blunt about it, the immediate state and local response to the hurricane bordered on the criminally negligent. (More on that later this week.) Still, that doesn't excuse Washington's failure to move decisively into New Orleans once it became clear that Baton Rouge had dropped the ball," writes the New York Post editorial board. LINK

USA Today's ed board criticizes FEMA and/but is semi-tentative in its conclusions. LINK

The Washington Post's Spencer S. Hsu and Susan B. Glasser report that former FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh offered a "qualified defense" of Michael Brown. "Allbaugh called the government's overall performance 'unacceptable' but added: 'Blaming one agency, you cannot do that.' Still, he acknowledged that FEMA had lost independence and clout with the White House. 'I had a unique relationship with the president, having been his chief of staff,' Allbaugh said. 'If you don't have that kind of relationship, it just makes things tougher.'" LINK

Susan Milligan writes on the "apparent" political strain between President Bush and Louisianan Gov. Blanco. LINK

The AP's Loven reports on Gov. Blanco's attempt to tamp down talk of a rift between her and President Bush. LINK

Michael Cooper of the New York Times looks at President Bush's "stalwart defender" in the affected region, Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS). LINK

Bush agenda:

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold today the first of what is expected to be several hearings convened by multiple committees examining the issue from rising gas prices to refinery production, Roll Call's Ben Pershing and Mark Preston report. LINK

The politics of Iraq:

Republican Sen. Charles Grassley tells the Washington Post: "People don't see light at the end of the tunnel in Iraq…. If the situation a year from now is the same, it's going to be the number one issue in the next election, and consequently for incumbent Republicans, a problem." LINK

Roll Call's Morton Kondracke thinks Bush has made an important shift as he tries to bolster public support for the Iraq war, moving from idealism to a hard national security argument, but Kondracke thinks Bush may have to introduce more troops into Iraq in order to have any hope of defeating the insurgency.

2008: Republicans:

Roll Call's David Drucker Notes that the Club for Growth is running ads in the Granite State that target McCain for opposing a permanent repeal of the estate tax, although we wonder if they read yesterday's Bob Novak column. LINK

Gov. Mitt Romney's support for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman is mentioned in a Washington Times story about same-sex marriage developments in California and Massachusetts. LINK

Both Boston Herald and the Globe report that Gov. Romney is organizing Bay State volunteers to assist displaced hurricane victims that are now in Massachusetts. LINK and LINK

Despite charges of hypocrisy from some Democrats, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has "generally" been "praised for his performance in the first week of the disaster," Bloomberg News reports. LINK

2008: Democrats:

The Quad City Times reports that after calling off his New Hampshire trip to concentrate on Iowa's participation in the Katrina relief undertaking, Gov. Tom Vilsack phoned in -- literally -- his Granite State appearance and delivered some tough words for FEMA Director Brown. Note, too, Martha Fuller Clark's "rave review." LINK

Gov. Vilsack has offered to house up to 5,000 Katrina refugees that have inundated Texas relief centers. LINK

Roll Call's Josh Kurtz writes that "nobody is suggesting that Jimmy Carter should run for president in 2008. But after searching for the 'next' JFK for several generations, after admiring Bill Clinton's unique jujitsu, maybe it's Carter that the Democrats, perpetually reeling and on the defensive, ought to be turning to now."

Sen. Clinton pens an op-ed in the New York Post -- avec photo in the hard copy!! -- crowing about the bases she help saved in the BRAC process and demonstrates some national security chops while she's at it, all courtesy of Rupert Murdoch's ink-by-the-barrel. LINK

The Clintons of Chappaqua:

The New York Post has exclusive details on the renovations taking place at the Clintons' Embassy Row home. LINK


This quote from Pat Healy's West Indian Day Parade mayoral campaign round-up is pretty much all you need to know: LINK

"'Virginia is a strong black woman, and I love her, but I'm actually voting for Bloomberg,' said B. French, who stood near Schenectady Avenue with her two sons, Claye, 10, and Devin, 9. 'Bloomberg has made the schools better, no question. He ended social promotion. My boys' future is in those schools, and Bloomberg cares about that.'"


While official Washington was on vacation, there were some significant personnel changes impacting the Gang of 500.

Carolyn Washburn officially became one of the people who will pick the new POTUS with her recent appointment to be vice president and editor of the Des Moines Register. Washburn's previous experience includes having worked as executive and managing editor of the Idaho Statesman as well as working as managing editor at the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, NY and as a business editor and reporter at the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal.

The dapper Chris Cillizza, who covered presidential politics with a congressional angle for Roll Call, has been hired by Washington to write a political column/blog for the newspaper's Web site. The site goes live Sept. 12.

Mike Allen, who previously covered the White House and then Capitol Hill for the Washington Post, is headed back to the White House beat, this time for Time Magazine, where he will join Matt Cooper.

John Mercurio, CNN's former political editor, is leaving television to join Chuck Todd at National Journal.

And Teddy Davis, who wrote for Roll Call after covering the '04 cycle for ABC's political desk in New York, has joined the Alphabet Network's political unit in D.C.

Best of luck to all in their new assignments and we offer our heartfelt congratulations.

Other Tuesday schedule items and the week ahead:

Sen. Clinton (D-NY), Gov. Pataki (R-NY), Gov. Codey (D-NJ), Mayor Bloomberg (R-NYC), and U.S. Transportation Secretary Mineta gather at 11:00 am ET at the World Trade Center site to launch construction of the permanent World Trade Center PATH Station and Transportation Hub.

Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) will be sworn in as the congresswoman from Ohio's second congressional district at 6:30 pm ET on the House floor.

The New America Foundation begins its two-day forum on terrorism with featured speakers such as Sen. Hagel (R-NE), Sen. Biden (D-DE), former Attorney General Ashcroft, former Secretary of State Albright, and Ret. General Wesley Clark.

The four Democratic candidates for mayor in New York City will meet for televised debates tomorrow and Thursday evening.

Thursday is the deadline for the Base Realignment and Closure commission to send its final list to President Bush.

The Weekly Standard marks its 10-year anniversary at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, Karen Hughes is scheduled to participate in a town hall style staff meeting with Secretary of State Rice at the State Department where she will unveil her plans for re-shaping America's image around the world.

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman will be the featured speaker at the Pennsylvania GOP annual fall dinner Friday night at 6:30 pm ET at the Harrisburg Hilton in Harrisburg, PA.