ABC News' The Note: First Source for Political News

"'It's fair to ask what the oversight panel was doing during this period,' said a former committee staff member who worked with Goss, speaking anonymously. 'Where was the oversight when the CIA said Saddam [Hussein] had weapons of mass destruction? The fact is congressional oversight has been weak for more than a decade.'"

The Washington Post 's Bradley Graham reports "several senior Pentagon officials warned yesterday against allowing the proposed creation of a powerful national intelligence director to obstruct the flow of timely information to troops in the field." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the politics of Medicare:

According to a new Harvard/Kaiser survey, "the Medicare prescription drug benefit President Bush signed into law in December has not provided the political boost among seniors that the White House and independent analysts expected," reports the Washington Post 's Ceci Connolly. LINK

"Seven months after enactment and despite the administration's $87 million promotional effort, the program remains largely a muddle for the elderly and disabled whom it is meant to help, the survey found. A fraction — less than 10 percent — of the 41 million eligible for the first component, a new drug discount card, have signed up."

The New York Times ' Robert Pear gets right up top that while a majority of seniors who receive the benefit have a negative view of the law, they want to see it fixed, not repealed, as Democrats have pushed for. LINK

Is the report's release anything other than a coincidence? We DO know that the Democratic Party was hard at work yesterday on this very issue.

We can just hear the Elmendorf in Matt Dowd's voice when he said this in the New York Times : "Maybe it's a first step, maybe it's not everything they wanted, but the president got something done. It's decisive leadership. We'll be happy to have a debate on who provided seniors prescription drugs and who opposed it, or didn't even show up for the vote." LINK

"The survey suggests that there are 'maybe a half-million seniors' who might swing their votes to Democratic candidate John F. Kerry and another '1 million to 2 million whose votes might be up for grabs on this issue,' said Drew E. Altman, president and chief executive of the private, nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation," writes the Los Angeles Times' Vicki Kemper. LINK

The key bloc of voters here is elderly whites. Older Americans in general tend to oppose the war in Iraq most acutely, and are therefore already leaning strongly to Kerry, as ABC News' Polling Director Gary Langer has Noted.

The labor-backed Alliance for Retired Americans (Note to Halbfinger — they're an arm of organized labor, so their endorsing Kerry is not a sign of anything other than a nicely orchestrated Karen Ackerman PR campaign.) are embarking on an intense, multimillion-dollar GOTV campaign for the fall.

And watch for other groups to, shall we say, pop up in battleground states with issue ads on Medicare. On the Republican side of the ledger, groups like the United Seniors Association, Americans for Job Security and the 60+ coalition have not gone away.

Our one bit of pooh-pooh: for months, Democrats have been telling us that Arizona (the Florida of the West) would be competitive because Gov. Janet Napolitano's prescription drug program was much more popular than President Bush's. So far, the prediction has not panned out.

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