WASHINGTON, Sep. 14
Take Katrina out of the mix and these would still be crazy, overloaded times for the Bush Administration.
The presidential agenda and burden: Iraq, Iran, China, United Nations reform, gas prices, tax reform, Social Security reform, tax cuts, immigration reform, two Supreme Court confirmations, trade, and stopping a flu outbreak.
So/but with all due respect to today's Iraq carnage, the Roberts hearings, and the POTUS United Nation's speech and bilats (and to prove how forward looking The Note can be), we posit that the Thursday night address to the nation at 9 pm ET is the key to the whole week (and maybe the second Bush term. . .).
It is the first, best opportunity to turn the focus to rebuilding and optimism from blamegamedisasterBrownieyou'redoingaheckofajobdeadbodiestvpictures
An Administration official tells ABC News that tomorrow night's speech is in response to something "unlike anything" the President has had to address, so the speech will be different than anything he has ever delivered, but there are some comparisons. In some ways, it will be "explanatory" like the President's 2001 stem cell speech. It will have the "feel" of an address to the nation, rather than a rally or state of the union speech, although like a SOTU, it will lay out a strategy.
Tomorrow's speech and Friday's National Day of Prayer will serve as a two-act play intended to "elevate the discussion," get the focus off of the recriminations, and try to get the country pointed towards reconstruction and healing.
The President will "sketch a vision of the future," and "has this in his bones at a granular level," but executing it is the challenge, especially on race and class.
The speech will deal with the racial component of Katrina, and this official acknowledged that the Bush-RNC efforts to reach out to African-Americans have been "hurt a lot" by what's happened. And the White House realizes that "one speech doesn't solve this" for a party that was already suffering a credibility deficit with minorities.
So while White House speechwriters and the President himself grapple in the next two days with what he should say (and how he should say it. . .), defining the Katrina politics environment are three must-read stories:
1. The Washington Post's VandeHei and Weisman have the best story yet on the White House search for conservative policy ideas to deal with the storm's aftermath, while still deferring to the wishes of local and state officials. (The pair also break news on the potential plan to suspend the wage supports for service workers contained in the McNamara-O'Hara Service Contract Act -- a move which labor experts say may be "unprecedented," and which would rile up Democrats after the earlier Bacon-Davis action.) LINK
2. Slate's John Dickerson writes that if Democrats are to capitalize on Katrina they need to cast the issue in terms of homeland security as Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid have been doing rather than in terms of race as Howard Dean has been doing. It's Daddy Party time, Dickerson says. LINK
3. In The Hill, Dick Morris writes that "the low job approval of Bush's efforts in the week after the storm will fade into history and take its place alongside similar criticism of his slowness to act after the planes hit on Sept. 11 or after the tsunami struck late last year. What counts for the future is that the ratings on his recent performance are 20 points higher than his overall job approval." LINK
Pre-tomorrow, today, President Bush addresses the United Nations High-Level Plenary Meeting at 9:40 am ET. ABC News will carry the President's remarks live.
While in New York, the President is also scheduled to meet with the Prime Minister of Israel (10:15 am ET) and the Prime Minister of Great Britain (10:50 am ET). Upon returning to Washington, DC, the President visits the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue at 6:35 pm ET and marks 350 years of Jewish life in America with a 7:00 pm ET speech at the National Building Museum.
Gov. Blanco will address a special joint session of the Louisiana legislature at 7:30 pm ET. LINK
Round Two of questioning begins in the Roberts confirmation hearings has already begun. The panel breaks for lunch at 1 pm ET and reconvenes at 2:00 pm ET if necessary.
As for the rest of today's schedule:
House Democratic Leaders gather outside of 345 Cannon to discuss Hurricane Katrina and record gas prices at 10:00 am ET.
Also at 10:00 am ET, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation looks at the effect of Katrina on the aviation industry at the same time as the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee holds a hearing on hurricane response.
Sens. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) will hold a joint press conference at 1:15 pm ET to announce the introduction of legislation designed to ensure financial integrity in the Hurricane Katrina relief and recovery effort.
Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) discusses the role of state and local government in homeland security and emergency response in an 11:00 am ET speech to the Heritage Foundation before talking health care reform at a roundtable by CNBC and the United States Chamber of Commerce in Dirksen 215 at 2 pm ET.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) holds the second in a series of "Conversations with Californians," a town hall-style meeting where he will answer questions from the audience.
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is in full "It Takes a Village" mode today: at 1:15 pm ET, the former First Lady attends the Nation's Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children 2005 rally on the West Lawn of the Capitol and at 8:30 pm ET she attends the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy Dinner at Union Station.
Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) heads to China and Japan on an eight-day mission to boost trade for Empire State businesses.
Kicking off Hispanic Heritage Month, RNC Chair Ken Mehlman travels to Tigard, Oregon to deliver remarks to Hispanic community and business leaders at 6:00 pm ET.
Former 9-11 Commission Chair Tom Kean and Vice Chair Lee Hamilton attended a Monitor breakfast at 7:30 am ET so be on the look-out for print stories tomorrow.
According to the Chicago Cubs website, the nation's oldest Supreme Court Justice John Stevens, 85, is going to throw out the first pitch as the Cubs host the Reds at Wrigley Field.
In case you had any doubt as to whether or not Anthony Weiner believes he will be in a runoff against Fernando Ferrer, you need look no farther than his campaign schedule. (And we don't mean the fact that he has one.)
After doing some morning television interviews, Weiner thanked voters outside the subway station on 125th Street and Lenox Ave. in Harlem at 7:30 am ET before heading to the Bronx to visit a senior center at 11:30 am ET.
Fernando Ferrer was also up early doing some live morning television interviews before he headed to a subway station a little farther east at 125th St. & Lexington Ave. with City Comptroller Bill Thompson.
For a bit of counter programming, Mayor Michael Bloomberg will announce the chairs and vice-chairs of "Democrats for Bloomberg" at 11:00 am ET.
Katrina: Bush response:
"Throughout his nearly five years in office, Mr. Bush has resisted publicly acknowledging mistakes or shortcomings, and his willingness in this case to edge up to a buck-stops-here statement, however conditional, was evidence of how shaken his presidency has been by the political fallout from the government's handling of the storm," write the New York Times' Bumiller and Stevenson in leading the paper, naturally. LINK
"It also set the stage for a White House effort to pivot from dealing with urgent rescue and relief efforts to setting out a vision of how the federal government could help rebuild devastated communities and re-establish Mr. Bush's image as a leader."
MoDo believes that Bush's political damage in the aftermath of Katrina could be long lasting. LINK
Katrina: Congress reacts:
Armed with their own partisan polling data, don't expect congressional Democrats to budge on their demand for a 9/11-style independent inquiry into the government's bungled response to Hurricane Katrina any time soon.
When Members of the House Democratic Policy & Steering Committee convened on Capitol Hill yesterday, Stan Greenberg told them that his latest polling shows that 83 percent of Americans support an independent, 9/11-style inquiry in which membership would be evenly split between Democrats and Republicans instead of a bipartisan, bicameral committee comprised of more Republicans than Democrats.
A Democratic Member of Congress who attended the meeting told The Note that the data provided to them by the veteran Democratic pollster is "driving" the Democratic strategy of refusing to go along with the Republicans on this issue.
"They're going to have to give in," this Democratic Member said, referring to the GOP congressional leadership. "The public doesn't trust the government to investigate itself."
The New York Times has some more on this: LINK
Janet Hooks of the Los Angeles Times writes that Congress' schedule and rhythms have been thrown off by Katrina. LINK
Per Roll Call's Mark Preston: "Congressional Republicans vowed Tuesday to move forward with their plan to form a bicameral committee to examine the response to Hurricane Katrina, even as Democrats were making it clear that launching such a joint investigation would be impossible without their blessing."
Roll Call's Ben Pershing reports that some Republicans on Capitol Hill want the White House to establish a Katrina war room to improve communication, but White House spokesman Trent Duffy (a one-man war room, wherever he is) dismisses the idea.
A vote on a GOP plan that would create a bipartisan, bicameral panel to investigate Katrina (as opposed to an independent inquiry) could come to the floor in the House as early as tomorrow in what proves to be a major loyalty test, The Hill's Josephine Hearn reports. LINK
The Houston Chronicle reports that Rep. Tom DeLay is "shrugging off" Democratic requests for an independent panel to investigate the hurricane Katrina response. LINK
Katrina: Big Casino budget politics:
Hidden on B4 of the Wall Street is a Sarah Lueck/David Rogers tip-of-the-iceberg piece on Medicaid costs arising from the storm.
And there's this lead from an anti-pork Journal editorial: "Some public-spirited folks in Bozeman, Montana, have come up with a wonderful idea to help Uncle Sam offset some of the $62 billion federal cost of Hurricane Katrina relief. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that Montanans from both sides of the political aisle have petitioned the city council to give the feds back a $4 million earmark to pay for a parking garage in the just-passed $286 billion highway bill. As one of these citizens, Jane Shaw, told us: 'We figure New Orleans needs the money right now a lot more than we need extra downtown parking space.'"
The Washington Times contrasts House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's declaration of "victory" in the war on budget fat with David Keene's assessment that government spending was spiraling out of control even before Katrina. LINK
The Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General will investigate some no bid contracts related to relief efforts, reports the New York Times. LINK
John Roberts for Chief Justice:
Roberts' confirmation-conversiony view on a right to privacy seems to be to the left of Bork and the right of Souter. Some might ask: Doesn't that alone make Phyllis Schlafly right when she says Roberts is not a Scalia or a Thomas, as the President promised?
In fact, the USA Today editorial board sees Roberts having a confirmation conversion on privacy, which they like. LINK
Robin Toner of the New York Times parses the nominee's words on abortion and gets Gary Bauer to express his "less than satisfied" response to being left with just hope about how Roberts might rule with respect to Roe. LINK
Jay Sekulow was "extremely pleased with the answers" Roberts gave yesterday, believing that his description of when courts should be willing to rethink precedents "left the door open" to the possibility he might vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Washington Post's Goldstein and Babington report. LINK
The New York Post editorial page takes Sen. Specter to task for his use of "super-duper precedent." LINK
Liberals aren't happy with Roberts but the Washington Times' Stephen Dinan has conservatives from the Federalist Society to the Family Research Council to the Concerned Women of America saying that Roberts "expertly handled questions on abortion." LINK
The New York Times Purdum, as only he can, describes the nominee's performance as "Delphic." LINK
Ron Brownstein's Los Angeles Times news analysis says that Roberts' "conciliatory comments" on a right to privacy and his emphasis on the importance of precedent will likely maximize his support on the floor from Democrats. LINK
Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Adam Liptak of the New York Times write the first day of Roberts questioning was "a day punctuated by flashes of hostility and humor. . ." LINK
Look for Sen. Kennedy to hammer away at Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act during his second round of questioning today.
"Liberal interest groups are focusing on flipping three centrist Republican senators from the Northeast (Snowe, Collins, and Chafee) as the key to their strategy at least to tarnish the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts," The Hill's Alexander Bolton reports. LINK
Some of our favorite alliterative phrases from the past 24 hours in describing either the hearings in general or Roberts' performance specifically:
"tense and tedious," "hostility and humor," and "force and fluidity."
Democratic lawyer Bob Bauer will have a longer version of his analysis-by-poem on his website today, but here's a bit of it: LINK
Must the Court bless smut and other such vices?
I can't say much but: stare decisis!.
May a President jail any and all in a crisis?
I can't say much but: stare decisis!
Will the Court defer or will it despise us?
I can't say much but: stare decisis!
Is privacy protected in all shapes and sizes?
I can't say much but: stare decisis!
Are your views like Bob Bork's or more like Brandeis'?
I can't say much but: stare decisis!
Will you ever say anything at all to surprise us?
I can't say much but: stare decisis!
Do you still favor term limits -- a time when you'll go??
According to the Associated Press, a total of 456,263 votes were counted in the preliminary results of the Democratic mayoral primary in New York. Fernando Ferrer got 182,273 of them or 39.949 percent -- missing that crucial 40 percent mark to avoid a runoff by a mere 233 votes.
It will take some time for the Board of Elections to count the paper ballots and open up the voting machines for the official count, but it was clear in television interviews this morning that both Ferrer and Congressman Anthony Weiner are proceeding with the expectations of a September 27 runoff.
Who will be the first reporter to compare Mr. Ferrer's 2001 vote total with his total from yesterday and ask how he lost previous Ferrer voters and to whom? Will Democratic State Chairman Denny Farrell be held accountable in any way for the exceedingly low turnout?
"He's no Weiner," reads the New York Post headline.
"In what seems to be shaping up as a repeat of the 1997 Democratic primary, when it took two weeks for Ruth Messinger to be declared the outright winner, the official results will not be known for at least a week," write Gaskell, Campanile, and Friedman of the New York Post. LINK
The New York Post's David Seifman reports on the outstanding paper ballots still to be counted. LINK
". . .25,399 absentee ballots had been sent out and 11,663 had been returned as of yesterday. Of those, 8,422 have been deemed valid. There are also an unknown number of 'emergency ballots,' which voters cast when machines break down or when there's a question about their registration."
Michael Saul of the New York Daily News reports, "Ferrer and Weiner did not speak with each other last night, said Jen Bluestein, a Ferrer spokeswoman. 'It's premature to ask Congressman Weiner to concede when not all the votes have been counted,' she said." LINK
Pat Healy's nut graph from his page one New York Times story wrapping up the results: ". . .Mr. Weiner himself did not seem willing to face one real problem last night: Ill will toward him in the Miller camp. Mr. Weiner said that he and Mr. Miller had become 'very close friends' in the campaign, but Miller aides said they were bitterly angry at the Weiner camp, seeing Mr. Weiner's hand in some of their political setbacks." LINK
The Washington Post has Larry Sabato, the University of Virginia professor who is scheduled to moderate an Oct. 9 Virginia gubernatorial debate, saying, "Kilgore was nervous and tense. He sounded bad. He argued badly. This was Kaine's best performance ever." LINK
Per the Washington Times: "Many in attendance said Mr. Kaine came off as the more composed candidate." LINK
The Washington Post ed board praises Tim Russert for getting former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore to answer the hypothetical question of whether he would veto a tax increase thus "nimbly" exposing Kilgore's "double talk" when the Republican dismissed as a hypothetical whether he would outlaw abortion in Virginia if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. LINK
On William Weld's right flank, John Faso is considering a run for governor of New York, reports the AP. LINK
"New York Gov. George Pataki on Tuesday gave what will likely be remembered as his first presidential campaign speech in Iowa," writes Tom Beaumont of the Des Moines Register on the speech laden with references to 9/11 and Katrina delivered to "1,000 business leaders." LINK
Well, if you were not able to make it to Cedar Rapids, we are pleased to tell you that C-SPAN will air the speech in its entirety this coming Sunday on "Road to the White House 2008" at 6:30 pm and 9:30 pm ET.
It may be a trade mission to China, but Josh Gerstein of the New York Sun foresees some potential pitfalls (human rights and religious freedoms) for Gov. Pataki on his trip to China, which he looks prepared to ignore. LINK
Under the header, "Politicians duck 'amnesty' label," the Washington Times' Stephen Dinan looks at the heat Sen. John McCain has faced from Project USA for his "earned legalization" bill. LINK
Gov. Mitt Romney calls for the vice chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, Lawrence P. Novak, to step down after he was arrested for federal money laundering charges. LINK
Sen. Brownback has proposed legislation in Congress that would pay poor D.C. working couples to get married. LINK
In a Washington Post op-ed, Sen. Joe Biden writes that the Administration is taking a "huge gamble by going forward with a referendum for a constitution that is more likely to divide Iraq than to unite" it while calling on Congress to hold monthly oversight hearings. LINK
Gov. Bill Richardson has signed a contract with the state workers' union that could greatly increase pay raises. LINK
The politics of national security:
The Washington Post's Peter Baker has Iraq's president changing his tune about the wisdom of withdrawing US troops from Iraq just one day after he "departed from White House talking points" in an interview with the Washington Post and broached the prospect of withdrawing 40,000 to 50,000 American troops from Iraq by the end of this year. LINK
"Senior Pentagon and military officials are discussing a proposal to cut American troop levels in Afghanistan next spring, perhaps by as much as 20 percent, the largest withdrawal since the Taliban were ousted in late 2001," reports the New York Times. LINK
Here's a Manchester Union Leader headline for all prospective presidential candidates to ponder: "Hiring outlook is bright across New Hampshire" LINK
If you haven't been focused on the Manchester mayoral primary set to take place next Tuesday, it is time to do so. The Union Leader has all the latest details including John Kerry's PAC donation of $8,000 to Mayor Baines' reelection campaign. LINK
It's a rough time to be an incumbent on the Des Moines school board. LINK
Attention television political reporters: Clip n' Save this Des Moines Register piece on the intelligent design debate brewing at Iowa State University in Ames, IA. It will be helpful when you want to do a spot on the controversial topic through the 2008 Hawkeye State lens. LINK
Chalk it up to our childhood obsession with banging erasers together. We apologize for any confusion we might have caused with our incorrect usage of "chalk" in yesterday's Note. We, of course, mean to write "chock-full" not "chalk full" when describing Dana Milbank's colorful story on the first day of the Roberts hearings.