The Note: Pretend It's All the Same

WASHINGTON, Sep. 19

NEWS SUMMARY

The political things Katrina has changed:

Tom DeLay now says there is no more fat to cut in the federal budget. (We look forward to the President or Scott McClellan -- preferably the former -- being asked about this asap.)

Congressional Republicans now openly question in no uncertain terms the prospect (and political advisability) of pushing Social Security and tax reform.

Frank Rich, Paul Krugman, and Maureen Dowd have really turned against the President now.

Our list of things from last week that have changed for Mr. Bush still mostly holds. LINK

The political things Katrina hasn't changed:

The Democrats still trust the President's motives as far as they can throw Joe Allbaugh.

The press and the Democrats are still demonizing Karl Rove's involvement in anything and everything, expressing shock and horror that a deputy White House chief of staff with wide-ranging applicable experience is helping to oversee the Katrina response.

The press still doesn't get George W. Bush. ("Leading" the way, Michael Kranish of the Boston Globe in Saturday's paper: "But it remains to be seen whether Bush will make a significant shift in his priorities or governing style to meet the continuing challenge in Iraq and the new challenge to his presidency posed by the aftermath of Katrina." LINK

(Note to Mike: Uhm, no, he won't.)

The political media has a chance to lock in some of the gains achieved in public opinion from Katrina coverage (but only by learning the right lessons).

The Republicans in Congress still will simultaneously complain to the White House about the deficit and spending cuts.

Democrats still have the same quality of leadership and political acumen from Leaders Pelosi and Reid (and Chairman Dean) and the same number of positive, clear agenda items to offer the American people.

Nearly every Democrat in Congress is still on the merits in favor of not just stopping the extension of some of the Bush tax cuts, but is in favor of rolling many others back -- but they are still afraid to say so and unable to make their case, despite the fact that polls (continue to) show public opinion on their side.

The Eight Iron Roberts Rules of the Order are still in place: Democrats won't filibuster; Republicans have the votes to confirm; there is no clear reason to be certain that Roberts lives up to President Bush's iron-clad campaign pledge to nominate people in the Scalia/Thomas mold; the right doesn't seem to care about the fact that there is no clear reason to be certain that Roberts lives up to President Bush's iron-clad campaign pledge to nominate people in the Scalia/Thomas mold; The Note can't figure out why the right doesn't seem to care about the fact that there is no clear reason to be certain that Roberts lives up to President Bush's iron-clad campaign pledge to nominate people in the Scalia/Thomas mold; Democrats -- who think Roberts is secretly in the Scalia/Thomas mold -- seem not to care about President Bush's iron-clad campaign pledge to nominate people in the Scalia/Thomas mold or to Notice that he won the election; Democrats are caught between looking obstructionist and beholden to special interests on the one hand, and being punished by the left on the other -- and the media is casting their decisions on the Roberts vote in purely political terms, while the President's choice of Roberts is not being seen that way; and John Roberts still likes golf and wordplay a lot.

President Bush's schedule today is anchored by a Homeland Security Council meeting at 9:40 am ET. The President is expected to make some remarks to the pool at the bottom of the event. If he takes questions, let's ask him about that DeLay thing, shall we?

At 10:35 am ET, President Bush will receive former President Carter and James Baker's election reform report. Still photos only for this event.

The Prime Minister of Thailand will meet with President Bush in the Oval Office at 2:05 pm ET. We expect the leaders to address the pool at the conclusion of their meeting.

President Carter and James Baker will also participate in a photo op on Capitol Hill at 1:30 pm ET.

The Senate convenes today to handle the Agriculture Appropriations bill. The House will get back to official business tomorrow.

Each half of the 2004 Democratic ticket will be offering up some criticism and solutions in the wake of Hurricane Katrina today.

In the first of several planned college campus stops, Sen. Kerry (D-MA) will take the stage at Brown University at 4:00 pm ET in Providence, RI.

John Edwards will speak (courtesy the Center for American Progress) at 1:15 pm ET in Washington, DC.

Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) will make a "major announcement" today at 10:30 am ET on the front steps of the Governor's Mansion in Little Rock, AR.

President Bush plans to breakfast at the White House on Wednesday morning with Sens. Frist, Reid, Specter, and Leahy to discuss the next Supreme Court vacancy at hand.

Be sure to check out our look at the rest of the week ahead below.

Katrina: Big Casino budget politics:

The Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore just misses must-read status with an A17 piece on how Katrina is super-charging the President's previous big-spending ways. Moore also questions whether there is a proper substantial federal role in all this anyway, although he seems to realize that that ship has mostly sailed.

From Sunday's Los Angeles Times (Saturday's had the same not-reported-anywhere-else-we've-seen key detail): "In coming weeks, the administration is expected to step up its efforts to get Congress to cut spending. Such efforts are likely to include more aggressively promoting the $15 billion in cuts that the administration included in its budget proposal this year." LINK and LINK

Rep. Mike Pence told ABC's George Stephanopoulos yesterday that lawmakers will have to take a "really hard look" at delaying the Jan. 1 implementation of the prescription-drug entitlement, which he says would put $40 billion back into the budget, the Washington Times' Audrey Hudson reports. LINK

Howard Fineman's Newsweek cover story frames things in Big Casino terms, but the soaring rhetoric is not matched by any breaking news. LINK

Fineman uses an interview with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to argue that the Administration will have to renew its financial case for the Iraq war this fall against the backdrop of the desperate needs of "the Other Gulf."

Richard Wolf and Judy Keen find many questions and no easy answers for how we'll pay for the Katrina reconstruction. LINK

The New York Post's Ryan Sager slams Bush for not requesting any offsets to pay for Katrina and then compares the President -- unfavorably -- to his predecessor. LINK

Katrina: Congress reacts:

In a Washington Post op-ed, MOCs McCain, Lieberman, Harman, and Weldon call on their fellow members of Congress to "immediately take up pending legislation that would finally provide emergency first responders with the radio spectrum, equipment and funding necessary." LINK

Katrina: the blame game:

Bob Novak's weekend column had an item about Joe Allbaugh that included this, "According to administration sources, Allbaugh pressed in 2002 to be Homeland Security secretary but was vetoed by Rove." LINK

The Wall Street Journal ed board takes Democratic lust to mug for the cameras (true enough) and turns it into an implicit and cynical argument against oversight of potential executive branch failure, something we would have thought the page would support -- even for Republican presidents. Granted, there is no reason to have confidence in the rigor and fairness of any investigative process (or outcomes), but are we all just resigned to giving up on oversight?

Robert Block has a piece about FEMA pre-Katrina preps that might have exclusive stuff in it (we can't tell . . . ). It's on A3 of the Wall Street Journal.

Katrina: Bush strategy/response:

Elisabeth Bumiller's New York Times White House Letter on Bishop T.D. Jakes includes this line: "So far, none of the half-dozen black megapreachers close to the White House have abandoned Mr. Bush. But after Hurricane Katrina neither have they embraced him, Bishop Jakes included." LINK

The New York Times' Bumiller and Kornblut wrote a Sunday story which looked at the damage control with the African American community underway at the White House. LINK

Jackie Calmes of the Wall Street Journal has a very lovely substantive look at the possibilities and limits of the Bush Administration's post-Katrina housing plans.

Katrina: politics and policy:

The media spotlight is on Louisiana, but politically, the stars are aligned for Mississippi to be the big winner when the federal funding is doled out, reports Andrea Stone in USA Today. LINK

"[S]ome observers expect sharp divides to surface as the two hardest-hit states vie for relief. Because when it comes to clout on Capitol Hill, Mississippi and Louisiana are not in the same boat."

Katrina: 2008: Democrats:

Remember John Kerry's "Change Starts with U" tour? At Brown University today, in the first of what aides say will be several speeches delivered on college campuses on the major issues of the day, Sen. Kerry will discuss what he sees as the major challenges for America in the aftermath of Katrina.

Kerry will criticize the Administration directly (see the excerpt below), but one aide also tells us that Kerry will explore "the ideology of 'what's in it for me?' vs. a belief in shared sacrifice that asks 'what's in it for all of us?'"

Kerry is expected to attack the plan laid out by the President last Thursday, thusly: "And the rush now to camouflage their misjudgments and inaction with money doesn't mean they are suddenly listening. It's still politics as usual. The plan they're designing for the Gulf Coast turns the region into a vast laboratory for right wing ideological experiments. They're e already talking about private school vouchers, abandonment of environmental protections, abolition of minimum wage standards, subsidies for big industries, and believe it or not yet another big round of tax cuts for the wealthiest among us!"

Former Sen. John Edwards will argue in a 1:15 pm ET speech at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC on Monday that there is an opportunity in the wake of Katrina to address issues of work and poverty not only for the hurricane's victims but for all 37 million impoverished Americans.

He will call for FDR-style jobs programs to rebuild the Gulf Coast as well as a commitment on the part of the poor "to work, to hold off having kids until they're ready, and to do their part for their kids when the time comes."

While speaking at Sen. Tom Harkin's annual steak fry in Iowa on Sunday, Edwards criticized President Bush for exercising his authority to suspend laws that require the prevailing wage to be paid on reconstruction projects. LINK

"That's insane," he said. "What these people need is a decent wage. It's the reason so many of them are living in poverty to begin with."

The O'Connor seat:

Bob Novak's weekend column said that Senate source say that Sen. Reid has told Dr./Sen./Leader Frist that Priscilla Owen would draw a filibuster and that Republicans believe that in fact only Gonzales (of likely picks) wouldn't. LINK

Based on historical timetables, if Bush waits until after Roberts clears the full Senate to announce his nominee to replace O'Connor, the week after Thanksgiving would be the "earliest" the full Senate would take up the nomination, Roll Call's Paul Kane reports.

John Roberts for Chief Justice:

Pigs flew on Sunday, when the Washington Post endorsed Roberts for Chief. LINK

In a piece looking at the Democratic politics of the Roberts vote, the Boston Globe has Paul Begala saying that you will regret your vote if you are a Democratic presidential candidate and you vote for Roberts. On the other hand, he thinks that if you are a senator from a swing state and you oppose Roberts, "you will look unreasonable." Doug Schoen thought Roberts would get near-unanimous support when the hearings started but doesn't think so anymore. LINK

Bob Novak today has (1) Sens. Schumer and Feinstein complaining about Roberts in an elevator, when they don't know a spy is in their midst; (2) "in private conversation last week, [Justice] Ginsburg disagree[ing] with Schumer"; (3) and a Roberts floor vote ceiling of 63 votes, including 8 Democrats. LINK

Bush Administration strategy/personality:

Teddy Forstmann's fabulous Aspen confab might have sprung a leak of Karl Rove's off-the-record remarks, per A. Huffington's bloggy type thing. LINK

The Clintons of Chappaqua:

Despite his being like a son to Barbara Bush, a golfing buddy/traveling partner of George H.W. Bush, fond of 43's political skills, and currently volunteering for President Bush, President Clinton made it quite clear on the Sunday talk shows that he believes his FEMA operation was much better equipped to handle a disaster like Katrina than the current Administration's FEMA. LINK

Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times snagged an interview with the eponymous chief of the Clinton Global Initiative, and reviews the whole 3-day deal with optimistic perfect pitch, including hailing what those-in-the-know are still buzzing about: Al Gore's boffo tour de force perf that drew a standing O. LINK

President Bill Clinton said in an interview with Bloomberg News that the U.S. government's response to Hurricane Katrina showed an ``astonishing lack of understanding'' of the lives of poor, black people, though he doesn't believe ``conscious racism'' contributed to the failure to evacuate New Orleans residents. LINK

Dean's Democrats:

Howard Dean was on "The View" Thursday. He followed Danny Bonaduce and a guy who has been in college living in a fraternity for 15 years. We have no more comment on his appearance.

Politics of national security:

"North Korea Says It Will Abandon Nuclear Efforts" blares the New York Times lead headline. LINK

The agreement "appears to rescue a diplomatic process that appeared to be on the verge of collapse after multiple rounds of negotiations failed to produce even a joint statement of principles," writes Joseph Kahn.

The world awaits a David Sanger news analysis piece -- or three.

Proposed revisions to the country's nuclear weapons doctrine is sparking second thoughts at the Pentagon after provoking controversy on Capitol Hill, the Washington Post's Walter Pincus reports. LINK

The politics of Iraq:

Cindy Sheehan was in the People's Republic of Cambridge this weekend, per the Sunday Boston Globe. LINK

And then she continued her tour in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn last night where she took on Sen. Clinton for not being sufficiently outspoken against the war for which she voted. (Be sure to check out a Clinton spokesman sounding Kerry-esque.) LINK

As US forces struggle to put down an "elusive and inexhaustible enemy" in Iraq, Time Magazine's cover story by Michael Ware asks: "Is it too late to win?" LINK

Time's Joe Klein looks at the "secret history" of "US mistakes, misjudgments and intelligence failures that let the Iraqi dictator and his allies launch an insurgency now ripping Iraq apart." LINK

2008:

The New York Times' Rosenbaum writes up the previously embargoed recommendations by the American University sponsored voting panel led by President Carter and James Baker including the suggested four regional presidential nominating primaries for both parties after Iowa and New Hampshire have fulfilled their traditional roles. LINK

It's unclear how much sway these recommendations will have within the parties when determining their 2008 calendars, but it will make for a nice White House photo opportunity today.

The Los Angeles Times' James Gerstenzang makes it a little clearer by helpfully and realistically providing this quote, "The recommendations run against 'the tremendous vested interest of local election administrators' by moving control of elections 'out of the hands of partisan, self-interested actors,' said Richard Pildes, an expert on voting rights and election law at the New York University School of Law," as well as the link LINK

The Carter-Baker commission will call today for "significant changes in how Americans vote, including photo IDs for all voters, verifiable paper trails for electronic voting machines and impartial administration of elections," the Washington Post's Dan Balz reports, as he Notes a Daschle dissent on parts of the report. LINK

Along with MSNBC's Tom Curry, CNN's Jackie Schechner, the NYT's Matt Bai and a sprinkling of party operatives and interest group reps, The Note attended a regular meeting of the Internet Left at Townhouse Tavern in Dupont Circle on Sunday. Here is what we took away:

1. Mike Huckabee instills fear.

2. Hillary Clinton provokes scorn.

3. Russ Feingold inspires passion.

4. And John Edwards' early focus on poverty -- coupled with Elizabeth Edwards' statement of support for Cindy Sheehan -- is getting him a second look from this crowd. LINK

2008: Democrats:

The Des Moines Register's Jonathan Roos has the must-read 2008 story of the current news cycle. Make sure you read the whole thing to see how Gov. Vilsack solicits political advice on governmental policies. LINK

Not surprising: that he does such things. Surprising: that these things were written down and leaked.

Nothing super-harmful here, but procedures will surely be reviewed at Terrace Hill.

The Des Moines Register's Thomas Beaumont, in attendance Sunday at Sen. Tom Harkin's steak fry, reports on John Edwards's proposal for a "Depression-era-style works project" that would launch reconstruction efforts in the Gulf Coast region by employing citizens whose lives have been thrown out of wack by Katrina. LINK

The New York Sun's Josh Gerstein has Joe Trippi and Simon Rosenberg both saying that Mayor Mike Bloomberg's decision to oppose John Roberts will increase pressure on Sen. Hillary Clinton to vote against the nominee. "How does Hillary go to the right of Bloomberg?" asks Rosenberg. LINK

While columnizing about how the media has neglected covering poverty prior to Hurricane Katrina, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz cites John Edwards' "Two Americas" speech as an "exception" to most politicians' neglect of the issue. LINK

2008: Republicans:

Per the Boston Globe's Helman in Sunday's paper, Mitt Romney hosted a New Hampshire state Republican Party fundraiser at his Granite State home, serving "Swedish meatballs, a Greek spinach pie called spanikopita, and other appetizers," as well as "erudition." LINK

Gov. Mike Huckabee was a "no show" this weekend at a meeting with Sen. Pryor. LINK

Sen. Brownback and Gov. Mike Huckabee independently met up with Iowa leaders and attended state community events over the weekend. LINK

Roll Call's Stu Rothenberg writes that Katrina has "swept away" for now 2008 presidential talk among Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour's friends even though the former RNC Chair's performance has drawn "raves." Barbour might still be a Senate candidate if Sen. Trent Lott decides to retire in 2006.

2005:

Al Baker and Mike McIntire of the New York Times Note Ferrer's first high-profile trip to Harlem as the Democratic nominee showed the Amadou Diallo issue will likely remain with him all the way to November. LINK

The AP reports that polls show the Virginia gubernatorial race is quite close. LINK

The Washington Post's Faler and Cillizza have the skinny on this year's hottest ballot measures around the country. LINK

2006:

The New York Post's Fred Dicker's blockbuster lede atop a must-read piece: "Republican superstar Jeanine Pirro's month-old campaign for Senate election has stumbled badly, has failed to catch on with voters and is having difficulty raising cash, GOP insiders contend." LINK

The Washington Post's Faler and Cillizza report that the Teamsters held a "get to know you" event last week for a Republican businessman who is running for Congress. David McSweeney is challenging Rep. Melissa Bean in Illinois' 8th District. Bean won organized labor's ire by supporting CAFTA. McSweeney also supported CAFTA but the unions are "willing to try to find common ground with him on the issue, given their animosity toward Bean," according to a person in attendance. LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

Applying a Big Apple sensibility to coverage of the politics of a state that doesn't give a darn, the Los Angeles Times Mike Finnegan looks at Governor Schwarzenegger's attempt to keep his base revved up while reaching out to the center, and questions whether union-bashing is the right route. LINK

House of Labor:

House of Labor: Kris Maher and Timothy Aeppel of the Wall Street Journal look at how weakened unions are being asked to give -- and are giving -- big concessions in some cases.

Politics:

Per Roll Call's Elizabeth Brotherton: "The White House Project, a group that works to bring more women into political office, is sponsoring a 5:30 pm ET screening of the pilot episode of ABC's "Commander In Chief" on Thursday at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Scheduled guests include the show's writer and producer, along with journalists Eleanor Clift, Gwen Ifill, and Helen Thomas. The program is set to premiere at 9 p.m. Sept. 27 on ABC.

The New York Times takes a look at Rep. Bob Menendez's quest to become the next United Sates Senator from New Jersey. LINK

(Note Note: We wonder what Rep. Rush Holt's reaction will be to his exclusion from the article.)

USA Today's Jill Lawrence profiles new Secular Coalition for America executive director Lori Lipman Brown, whose job it is to lobby Congress on non-believers' behalf. LINK

The week ahead:

The Federal Open Market Committee meets on interest rates in Washington, DC tomorrow.

Harvard's Institute of Politics holds a panel discussion on "10 Years of the Weekly Standard," Cambridge, MA

Conservatives Salute Jesse Helms Dinner will take place tomorrow evening in Crystal City, VA.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) will host "New York Farm Day" in the Senate Russell Caucus Room, Washington, DC.

On Wednesday, former President Clinton and Sen. Bob Dole will host fundraising gala for Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, NC.

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation holds its 35th annual conference this week with the marquee "town hall" event taking place Thursday morning at the Convention Center in Washington, DC.

Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) addresses the National Press Club on health care and Operation KARE in Washington, DC on Friday.

The Michigan Republican Party's 26th Biennial Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference convenes on Mackinac Island, MI on Friday with several 2008 GOP hopefuls scheduled to attend.

United for Peace and Justice and A.N.S.W.E.R. hold a joint anti-Iraq war rally outside the White House on Saturday.

Also on Saturday, Karl Rove is scheduled to address North Dakota Republican Party committee meeting in Fargo, ND.