The Note





The phrase "Just another manic Monday" was popularized by:

a. Helen Fielding b. Ron Brownstein c. the Bangles d. Bill Rafftery

(The correct answer is "c.")

Things that our politico-media culture accepts more readily than it once would have: deaths in Baghdad and national polls showing weaker Bush numbers.

(Note the lack of transition…)

If the struggle for racial equality was the great civil rights issue of the last century, many of those who are celebrating today's gay marriages in the Bay State surely consider the search for equal rights for lesbians and gays to be the 21st century battle.

One of the only known conversations ever between George W. Bush and John F. Kerry was about race -- in a Yale athletic facility when they were undergraduates. (See the Boston Globe bio of Kerry, or call David Thorne, for those details -- disputed though they are.)

Today, Bush and Kerry talk race again, speaking several hours apart in Topeka, Kan., on the anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision.

What we'll be watching for:

1. Which man is better able to give a speech of soaring rhetoric that demonstrates an understanding of the American Experience and the role that race has played in defining it?

2. Which man -- if either -- mentions gay rights?

3. Which man gets live cable coverage?

4. Which man won the battle for the Topeka school children? (See the awesome Los Angeles Times story on the Battle for Topeka, including John Kerry's grasping for the Bob Dole suite. LINK)

5. How Topekans handle the simultaneous presence of David Rogers, Dan Balz, Adam Nagourney, and Ed O'Keefe?

While the two candidates are on the ground in Kansas, the Gang of 500 waits to see if the pictures coming out of Provincetown, Boston, and Needham inspire a grassroots push for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage -- or not.

Both campaigns say that their man is on the side of a majority of the American people on gay marriage, although two Bush officials sounded particularly macho and muscular when they told ABC News over the weekend that John Kerry's stance and record would be used during this campaign to make the claim that he doesn't "share our values," with "our" being those of the American people, not (necessarily) The Note.

Both John Kerry and George Bush oppose legal gay marriage. Bush supports a constitutional amendment; Kerry doesn't.

Pictures, as have seen for the last several weeks out of Baghdad, can explode into the political bloodstream and change the macro dynamic.

Will the pictures coming out of Massachusetts do that?

Every four months (or so) The Note invokes the Rule of the Cliché, which entitles us to reach a conclusion that is the oldest and best in journalism: only time will tell.

With today's planned introduction of gay marriage in Massachusetts, here are some political facts of life (or, at least, some analysis).

This issue ultimately may have an impact on the election, but at this point we don't think it will have an overwhelming influence on the outcome. There is enough volatility and emotion surrounding this issue that in a close election, it could tip the balance in several key states -- as could, it should be Noted clearly, many, many other issues. Iraq, jobs, and health care are certainly going to been engaged by the presidential candidates, neither of whom wants to fight this election out with gay marriage as a central issue, and the activists are unlikely to be able to force it front and center.

1. Since announcing his support for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriages, the President hasn't pushed the issue, to say the least -- there is no war room at the White House to get this done, and that isn't an oversight or an accident.

2. John Kerry would just like this issue to go away.

3. The chance of passing a federal constitutional amendment this year is zero, but measures on gay marriage are likely to appear on several state ballots in November. Although the Bush campaign and the Republican National Committee are not overtly encouraging those measures, strategists in both parties agree that their presence will almost certainly boost conservative turnout.

4. Battleground states in which such measures are possible include Arkansas, Louisiana, Ohio, Oregon, Missouri, Michigan, and Minnesota.

5. In those same states -- plus Pennsylvania, Iowa, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and others -- it is almost certainly true that the Republican Party and the Bush campaign will do direct mail and persuasion phone calls to voters talking about the issue -- somewhat under the radar and likely only at the very end of the campaign.

6. Even the cynical among you should not discount the notion that the President backs a national amendment because he thinks it is the right and only way to solve a national problem that his been forced on the country by a handful of judges and activist mayors -- rather than because of a political calculation by Mr. Bush. Conservatives who were heartened when the President came out for the amendment will now be watching to see if he resumes his push for it after Monday.

7. That John Kerry will accept his party's nomination in the state he calls home at a time when the gay marriage issue still will be defined by Massachusetts is going to require a lot of political finesse by his campaign -- and they know it.

8. Kerry's record of voting against the Defense of Marriage Act (along with a handful of liberal Democrats and Daniel Moynihan); being in support of civil unions; being against the federal constitutional amendment; and now being passively in support of a Massachusetts constitutional amendment (after opposing one in the past) is the sort of the quintessential Kerry-style waffling (with some substance behind it) that the Bush campaign hopes to exploit when defining Kerry as an unacceptable, liberal flip flopper.

9. President Bush would have just as much rhetorical, political, and personal trouble answering the question that Kerry stumbled on during last Friday's press conference -- does he personally wish those who will have gay marriages well? Perhaps someone will ask the President the same question…..

10. Vice President Cheney never really has been challenged in a sustained way for his failure to maintain the position he seemed to take in the Veep debate in 2000 -- in favor of letting states sort this issue out, rather than supporting a national constitutional amendment. Democrats cite this all the time as their strongest pushback on the controversy. As a matter of pure political discipline -- consistent (implicit) denial that the personal is the political -- the entire Cheney family is to be applauded.

11. In each of the last three presidential campaigns, one of the two major parties has tried to score political points on the issue of gay rights, and in each of those elections, the party that tried to make it an issue lost the election.

12. Very few Democrats support legalized gay marriage, while the Republican Party is divided on the wisdom of amending the Constitution at this stage of the controversy. Many GOP leaders in Congress have little enthusiasm for trying to get the amending process going.

13. The leading Republican pro-gay rights group, the Log Cabin Republicans, is unhappy with the President's support for the amendment; it isn't clear what they will do about that unhappiness from now through election day. They have run television commercials featuring Cheney's words and asserting their opposition to the amendment.

14. In the main, gay rights groups -- some of which Kerry met with on Friday in Washington -- are part of the liberal left coalition whose overriding mantra is "we badly want to beat George Bush -- check that, we MUST beat George Bush -- and therefore we are willing to overlook flaws in John Kerry."

15. It is almost certainly true that the national political press corps which covers this issue is more accepting of gay marriage than the nation as a whole; it is certainly true that the national political press corps does not fully appreciate the religious, moral, and psychosexual reasons why this is such an emotional matter for opponents of gay marriage.

16. Some suburban voters -- among the most key swing voters in this race -- and others, might be turned off by politicians pushing the issue of banning gay marriage at a time of war or economic crisis -- and/or by a sense that pushing a constitutional amendment to enshrine unequal treatment is unfair and unnecessarily anti-gay. And Republican strategists are well aware of this. This is probably the main reason that Republicans associated with the Bush campaign have only rarely gone after John Kerry on this issue so far.

17. Only in America could this type of legal, legislative, cultural, social, and political fight occur.

Now, on to this week's festivities...

Today, President Bush attends an event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education in Topeka, Kan., and then attends a fundraising reception, Atlanta, Ga. Sen. Kerry attends an event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education in Topeka, Kan., and then attends a rally with Howard Dean in Portland, Ore.

On Tuesday, the President makes remarks to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee at the Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C. Sen. Kerry holds a conversation on economic opportunity in Portland, Ore., then attends a staff party at his campaign headquarters, Washington, D.C.

First Lady Laura Bush attends a fundraiser luncheon for the congressional campaign of state Sen. Larry Diedrich (R-S.D.) in Sioux Falls, S.D., before attending a Bush-Cheney 2004 rally and Victory '04 dinner in Las Vegas in the evening.

Arkansas, Oregon and Kentucky hold their presidential primaries on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, President Bush speaks to the NCAA Winter Sports Champions, meets with the Prime Minister of Italy at the White House, and then speaks at the Sons of Italy Foundation 16th Annual National Education and Leadership Awards Gala at the Hyatt Hotel, Washington, D.C. Sen. Kerry is in Washington on Wednesday with no scheduled events.

Vice President Cheney delivers the Coast Guard Academy's commencement address in New London, Conn., while Mrs. Bush appears on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

On Thursday, the President meets with the Prime Minister of Greece at the White House. Sen. Kerry is also in Washington on Thursday before flying to Boston in the afternoon.

Mrs. Bush attends a Victory '04 luncheon and RNC fundraiser in Albuquerque. Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.) addresses New Hampshire Democrats in Manchester. And the New Democrat Network holds its annual meeting featuring appearances by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.), Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), Rep. Brad Carson (D-Okla.), Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, former DNC Chair Joe Andrew, and former White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry, D.C.

On Friday, President Bush delivers the commencement address at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La., then attends a fundraiser reception at a private residence, Metairie, La. Sen. Kerry campaigns in Greenwich and Stamford, Conn.

Former President Bill Clinton delivers the inaugural lecture in the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics lecture series at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kan. Lynne Cheney keynotes at the Wisconsin Republican Party Convention in La Crosse, Wis. Gov. George Pataki (R-N.Y.) speaks at the Belknap County Lincoln Day Dinner, Gilford, N.H. Republican National Convention CEO Bill Harris participates in a Web chat to mark 100 days until the start of the convention.

On Saturday, President Bush will be at the ranch in Crawford, Texas. He is expected to attend a family dinner in honor of his daughter Jenna's graduation from the University of Texas in Austin on Saturday, and a family dinner in honor of his daughter Barbara's graduation from Yale in New Haven, Conn., on Sunday. Sen. Kerry's schedule is still TBA.

On Saturday, former Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vt.) attends a fundraiser for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in Plainfield, N.J. Rep. Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) keynotes a breakfast at the New Hampshire Democratic Party's state convention in Manchester, N.H. The Hip-Hop Summit Action Network summit kicks off at the Fox Theatre in Detroit.

On Sunday, President Bush will be back at the White House with no scheduled events. Sen. Kerry's schedule is still TBA.

Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) also campaigns with Washington Senate candidate Rep. George Nethercutt (R-Wash.) in Seattle and Tri-Cities, Wash. Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) campaigns with North Carolina Senate candidate Erskine Bowles in Raleigh, N.C. Former Vice President Al Gore and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., participate in a town hall meeting sponsored by to discuss global climate change, New York City.

The politics of same-sex marriage:

The New York Times' Pam Belluck previews the first day that same-sex couples in Massachusetts can legally wed. (The skinny on out-of-state couples is quite interesting...) LINK

The Boston Globe's Yvonne Abraham and Rick Klein write, "The licenses are to be granted after years of legal wrangling, political maneuvering, and fractious public debate, which will probably continue even after the first gay and lesbian marriages. The giddy celebrations of couples in Cambridge last night, and those expected in other cities and towns across the state today, will soon give way to disputes over the reach and validity of same-sex marriages elsewhere in the country." LINK

The Boston Globe's staff writers present several sidebar stories:

--Reporting from St. Louis, Colin Nickerson tries to size up the reaction of the "American heartland," finding that gays and lesbians there feel a "mixture of elation and apprehension." LINK --Joanna Weiss and Lisa Kocian on the ongoing celebration outside of Cambridge's city hall. LINK --Ron DePasquale runs through which public figures will and will not be there with Romney being the key headliner who will not. LINK --Michael Paulson on the reaction of church leaders. LINK --Sarah Schweitzer and Donovan Slack on the attorneys general in neighboring states. LINK --Sarah Schweitzer on some municipalities who plan to honor out of state same-sex couples applying for licenses despite what the governor says. LINK

The Boston Herald's Thomas Caywood and Elisabeth Beardsley write, "Thousands of same-sex couples, including all the plaintiffs in the controversial Goodridge case, planned to marry today by asking a judge to waive the three-day waiting period between applying for and receiving a marriage license." LINK

Today's Globe also features an op-ed by Howard Dean sharing the lessons he learned from Vermont's civil union's law. LINK

USA Today's Fred Bayles writes, "The impact will reach well beyond Massachusetts' borders. Gay activists are expected to use the new marriages to challenge laws in other states that ban same-sex marriages. Opponents of gay marriage say they will step up efforts to pass similar laws, including an amendment to the U.S. Constitution." LINK

Bayles also writes about the challenges married couples face seeking recognition from other states. LINK

USA Today also reminds us which states could have gay marriage on the ballot in some way or another this fall. LINK

Ken Maguire of the Associated Press describes the scene in Cambridge, Mass., as 260 same-sex couples obtained marriage licenses after the city offices opened at midnight -- and furnished a wedding cake -- for those who were lining up for the OK to get married. Some said they would ask a judge to waive the state's three-day waiting period so they could tie the knot right away. LINK

As does the Washington Post's Jonathan Finer, who Notes that though hundreds of same-sex couples are getting marriage licenses, "there is no way of knowing how many couples will be married here in the coming weeks, or who will be first." LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Lisa Anderson looks at the way the issue of gay marriage -- and the proposed constitutional amendment to ban it -- has galvanized and unified both the gay community and evangelical Christians. Gay activist groups are looking to mobilize voters in the same ways as conservatives are looking to bring back into the fold the evangelicals who stayed home from the polls in 2000. LINK

"In the gay community, opposition to the marriage amendment has forged a broad bridge over partisan and ideological differences. In 2000, exit polls conducted by the now-defunct Voter News Service reported that of self-identified gay and lesbian voters, 3 million voted for Al Gore and 1 million voted for George W. Bush."

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect:

President Bush is in Topeka today for the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education and AP's Ben Feeler Notes that Bush "hopes to make some inroads himself among black Americans skeptical of his commitment to equal opportunity in education LINK

"Bush's speech comes at a time when, through a recent campaign swing and television ads, he tries to restore attention to his original domestic priority: improving education."

Feller reports that in his speech, the President will be "focusing on the nation's broader progress in race relations and what still must be accomplished."

Time Magazine's package on President Bush's "Moment of Truth" leads off with a Duffy, Cooper, and Dickerson must-read keying off the President's precarious poll numbers and exploring how closely the fate of his reelection campaign may be tied to Iraq. LINK

"The 43rd President is heading into the danger zone of American politics: not since Harry Truman has a President won a second term with approval ratings below 50% this close to the November elections."

The latest Newsweek poll shows President Bush's approval rating dipping to 42 percent, with 57 percent of those surveyed saying they disapprove of the way he is handling the situation in Iraq, and 62 percent saying they are unhappy with the way things are going in the country. The head-to-head matchup is a statistical dead heat, with Bush at 45 percent and Kerry at 46 percent. LINK

USA Today's Susan Page looks at the referendum on the President in November and what history can tell us about a race that Page says is less about Kerry vs. Bush and more about Bush vs. Bush: LINK

In their final article of two examining the Bush/Cheney fundraising machine, the Washington Post's Grimaldi and Edsall profile a Bush "Pioneer," who denies that donations lead to access, but who may have benefited from a Bush Administration policy change. LINK

See the weekend must-reads for yesterday's installment, which looked at what the Rangers and Pioneers allegedly got for the money and efforts for the President's campaigns.

The Los Angeles Times reports the Golden State's popular Governator is allegedly keeping his distance from the White House. (Note Sen. Kerry recently shared a drink with California's First Lady.) LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Robert Salladay points out that Schwarzengger, an honorary BC04 co-chairman, has been quiet on the campaign front, "focusing now on the state budget and other government business," aides said.

Salladay Notes: "For now, actively campaigning for Bush would complicate Schwarzenegger's own needs, aides said: The governor doesn't want to engage in partisan politics while negotiating with Democrats on the state budget and important legislation."

The New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller looks at the location and message of Bush's commencement addresses, calling the speeches "a classic vehicle for a White House to roll out major new themes, or to rise at least above the usual remarks presidents make at fund-raisers and business-group lunches." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Sen. John Kerry:

The Boston Globe's Pat Healy previews Kerry's planned remarks in Topeka today, where he didn't as of last night plan to comment on gay marriages. LINK

The AP's Mike Glover writes up Kerry's remarks almost as though they've already happened. LINK

Regarding today's Topeka tour, the Los Angeles Times offers great color on who is landing where when and how, reporting Kerry "is scheduled to arrive first at the city's largely deserted Forbes Field Airport, which last year saw its last commercial air carrier leave town. And his chartered 727 jetliner will be off the ground at 11:15 a.m. and headed for Portland, Ore., by the time Bush touches down before noon in Air Force One." LINK

(We did Note Kerry's reported request for "'the nicest room'" in the Ramada...)

The New York Times' Sink follows up on the letter from Bishop Sheridan of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs saying "Catholics should not receive communion if they vote for politicians who support abortion rights, stem-cell research, euthanasia or same-sex marriage." LINK

Frank James of the Chicago Tribune reports that Kerry talked up a tougher stance on enforcing international trade agreements in front of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which endorsed him. Kerry's support for NAFTA did not make him an early favorite with the Teamsters, who had supported the presidential candidacy of Rep. Richard Gephardt -- who was in the audience in Las Vegas Sunday. LINK

The Las Vegas Review Journal wraps Kerry's seven-hour visit to the city. "Some of Kerry's votes on trade agreements, which caused him some early trouble in the Democratic fight for the nomination, still rub many union members the wrong way...But Teamsters President James Hoffa, in a meeting with reporters, said Kerry is evolving on the trade issues important to the union base." LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman on Sunday looked at the upcoming Kerry house-party strategy, made famous by Howard Dean and possible by Karen Hicks. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush v. Kerry:

USA Today's Martin Kasindorf previews the New Democrat Network poll set for release on Tuesday that shows "President Bush leads in the contest for Florida's potentially decisive Latino vote but is failing to cut into John Kerry's strength with Latinos in the Southwest battlegrounds of Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada." LINK

The AP's William Kole writes about election fever for Democrats and Republicans overseas. LINK

Kristin McQueary writes in the Chicago Sun-Times about a Daily Southtown poll that shows Kerry leading Bush in Illinois, even with Ralph Nader on the ballot (46-41-8), and Notes that Nader must gather 25,000 signatures by June 21 to appear on the Illinois ballot. McQueary reminds readers that Nader won 2 percent of the statewide Illinois vote in 2000. LINK

In a separate story, McQueary looks at the same poll and Notes that while 46 percent of the likely Illinois voters surveyed think Bush has handled Iraq poorly, the President has closed the gap between himself and Kerry. The Massachusetts Senator leads Bush, 48 to 43 percent in the survey -- far narrower than the 13-point gap by which Kerry led in the same poll in March. Overall, President Bush's approval rating among Illinois voters is 49 percent. LINK


The New York Times' Jodi Wilgoren Notes that President of the Teamster's Union James P. Hoffa gave Candidate Kerry a big ole push for "Dick Gephardt as Veep." (Who knew Kerry actually WAS a Teamster back in his Yale days?..) LINK

The Boston Globe's Pat Healy also has Teamsters President James Hoffa telling reporters that Kerry's running mate should be "someone who can carry a swing state like Missouri." LINK

Healy reports that Hoffa mentioned Gephardt by name several times and that, according to Hoffa, Kerry said, "'I'll take it into consideration. He's a fine man.'"

The Washington Post's Jim VandeHei sat down with Hoffa at Bally's to get the Teamsters' point of view on a Kerry-Gephardt ticket. LINK

The Des Moines Register's Tom Beaumont reports on how Gov. Vilsack's recent veto "of a bill that would have referred to fetuses as persons is the latest in a string of moves friendly to abortion-rights advocates, a constituency he has not always pleased during his career in state government." LINK

Reuters recounts Sen. Biden urging Sen. McCain to respond to the call to service from his opposition party. LINK

Repeat after us: Once again, Sen. McCain says he won't be Kerry's vice president. LINK

Sen. Biden says there is "'no possibility'" Kerry will choose him as veep...but he would consider being Secretary of State! LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the battlegrounds:

The Wisconsin State Journal's Anita Clark gauges the reaction of gay activists in the Badger State to the events in Massachusetts. The verdict: great for them, but there's a proposed amendment to ban gay marriage in Wisconsin to worry about. LINK

In covering today's gay marriage news, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Notes all the challenges facing these new married couples in the days, months and years to come -- ranging from filing taxes, health insurance, to disabilities, and child support. LINK

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette leads with the Brown vs. Board of Education Anniversary and report that in Western Pennsylvania and much of the state, there remains a huge gap between the test scores of white students and those of African Americans. LINK

The Cincinnati Enquirer headlines its special report on the Brown anniversary "Separate but unequal," explaining how many Cincinnati students still find themselves in segregated schools. LINK

Brown v. Board of Education:

Education Secretary Rod Paige takes a look back on the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board decision in the Washington Post. "Brown v. Board, said Paige, "changed everything." Before Brown, the U.S. Constitution was "an empty promise as far as I was concerned. The American ideal did not include us. Now it does."" LINK

The Washington Post's William Raspberry asks how much better off are we as a result of Brown? LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Dahleen Glanton looks at how the integration set up by the landmark Brown decision has slid into a kind of resegregation, based not only on race but on socioeconomic class. LINK

The Tampa Tribune's Marilyn Brown reports that "the nation's 10th-largest school district is launching a plan that will shift racial balances in schools." LINK

George Archibald of the Washington Times looks at the disappointments of school integration 50 years after Brown, quoting a report by the Rockefeller Foundation that calls the decision "something of a bust." LINK

Bob Novak uses a thin premise of equal rights and the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education to ask whither Republican outrage over Senate Democrats delaying the confirmation of a federal appeals court judge until after an affirmative action case at the request of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The outrage over "this perversion of the judicial process," not to mention the "substance of the Democratic abuse" was suppressed, Novak indignantly writes, because the e-mail that ties the request to the action was one of thousands of e-mails downloaded from Democratic computers by Republican staffers on the Judiciary Committee. Oh, that. LINK

The economy:

Reports Dow Jones, "Stocks are expected to skid early Monday, after the current head of the Iraqi Governing Council was killed in a car bomb in Baghdad, raising concerns about a successful handover and the future viability of Middle East oil markets."

The politics of gas prices:

As crude oil trades above $41 a barrel "and terrorism fears helping to inflate the price, the U.S. has quietly continued to fill its emergency reserves to the highest level ever -- an amount experts say could be used to bring prices down," reports the Wall Street Journal's Warren.

Prison abuse scandal:

Seymour Hersh sets the agenda for the weekend's news cycle(s): "The roots of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists but in a decision, approved last year by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to expand a highly secret operation, which had been focused on the hunt for Al Qaeda, to the interrogation of prisoners in Iraq." LINK

In its story Noting Seymour Hersh's New Yorker piece, the Los Angeles Times says "Condoleezza Rice told the German television network ARD on Sunday that 'as far as we can tell, there's really nothing to the story.'" LINK

Roll Call's Ben Pershing writes, "Frustrated by how both Senate Republicans and the White House have handled Iraq message efforts in the wake of the prisoner abuse scandal, House GOP leaders are aggressively seeking to play a larger role in preventing an increasingly negative story from spiraling out of control."

The politics of Iraq:

The AP reports the "head of the Iraqi Governing Council was killed Monday in a car bombing near a U.S. checkpoint in central Baghdad." And also today, "South Korean officials said the U.S. plans to shift up to 4,000 U.S. troops from their garrisons in South Korea to Iraq to cope with spiraling violence. The move would be the first significant change of U.S. troop levels in South Korea since 1992 and it underscores how the U.S. military is stretched."

Now to the politics.

The Wall Street Journal reports liberal coalition Win Without War is prepping "to begin mobilizing support for removing American troops from Iraq. Though problems in Iraq hurt President Bush most, swelling withdrawal sentiment could also complicate the campaign of Democratic challenger John Kerry."

And more from Kerry's left flank: Writes the New York Times' Lyman of Dennis Kucinich, "the war in Iraq is turning out to be just the disaster he had predicted, and if he can just keep accumulating delegates here and there, he might be able to go into the Democratic convention in Boston this summer with enough juice to nudge the party toward his way of thinking." Kucinich says he wants a meeting with Sen. Kerry "to try to persuade him that a troops-out-now platform is the way to beat President Bush and unlock the door to the nation's progressive yearnings." LINK

From the right: The Wall Street Journal's Jaffe and Hitt write in the very last graph of their story leading with pressure to expand the Abu Ghraib investigation: "The unsettled period ahead has Bush advisers increasingly resigned to the fact that news from Iraq will drive the election contest, elbowing aside developments in the U.S. economy or on other matters. The signals the transfer sends, Bush advisers say, will color public perceptions heading into the summer nominating conventions and the sprint to Election Day."

And the Los Angeles Times' Brownstein quotes Ivo Daalder in saying that the Bush preemption doctrine (so neatly outlined in the Woodward book) is a casualty of the war in Iraq. LINK

Of course, writes Brownstein, "Kerry's aides say he would consider preemptive action to depose a regime openly harboring terrorists that threaten America."

Francis X of the New York Times says there ain't enough Iraq talk by the two candidates, writing the ole "hustings are painfully devoid of the one thing the nation is entitled to for all its lost blood and treasure - an honest, plain give-and-take before voters about the war's wisdom and direction." We bet Dems will be sure to check out the quote from Mr. Head. LINK

Mark Helprin kinda agrees, writing on the Wall Street Journal's opinion page that on Iraq, "America has been poorly served by those who govern it."

It's all about the L-word now.

The New York Times' Sanger writes of Sec. Powell's comment that the CIA was misled about Iraq's weapons. Goes the last graph: "'Basically, Powell now believes that the Iraqis had chemical weapons, and that was it,' said an official close to him. 'And he is out there publicly saying this now because he doesn't want a legacy as the man who made up stories to provide the president with cover to go to war.'" LINK

Big confusion reigns re: June 30 writes the New York Times' Weisman. LINK

Insurgency in Iraq is making reconstruction more expensive for contractors and gobbling up limited reconstruction funds, report the Wall Street Journal's Gold and Munoz, who write the "rise in security and recruiting needs comes amid growing criticism of the Bush administration's planning for a postwar Iraq."

The politics of national security:

The New York Times' Robert Pear reports "a federal advisory committee says Congress should pass laws to protect the civil liberties of Americans when the government sifts through computer records and data files for information about terrorists." LINK

The New York Times' Safire writes the Pentagon report "Safeguarding Privacy in the Fight Against Terrorism" should be debated now, not later, by Congress and praises the draft for "balancing personal liberty and national security." LINK

Kay Coles James, Director of the Bush Administration's Personnel Management "says Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's plan to revamp the department's personnel system tramples veterans' rights, offers a bad model for changing federal pay and represents a strategic blunder in the attempt to modernize the federal civil service government-wide," reports the Washington Post's Christopher Lee. LINK

The land of 5-plus-2-equals-7:

The Washington Times' Brian DeBose writes that Republican 527 groups are working overtime to catch up to those already in place on the other side of the aisle. LINK

Roll Call's Brody Mullins and Chris Cillizza report, "Top Republican campaign officials will begin meeting today to lay the groundwork to raise and spend $50 million or more on a soft-money advertising and get-out-the-vote blitz in support of President Bush and other Republican candidates, according to strategists involved in the efforts."

The politics of AIDS:

"The Bush administration announced a significant shift in its AIDS policy on Sunday, expediting the approval process for generic and combination antiretroviral drugs so they can be purchased at lower prices and provided more efficiently and safely to millions of infected people in Africa and the Caribbean," reports the New York Times' Altman. LINK

The politics of overtime:

The Washington Post's Lee and Straus report "almost two-thirds of 1.6 million civilian full-time federal employees received merit bonuses or special time-off awards in fiscal 2002." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the House:

Roll Call's Erin Billings reports on House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)'s drive to raise cash for South Dakota candidate Stephanie Herseth.

Billings writes, "Hoyer tapped roughly 10 lawmakers to work over their fellow Members until Congress adjourns for the Memorial Day recess, just a week before the June 1 special election that pits Herseth against state Sen. Larry Diedrich (R). Slightly more than half of the 205-member Democratic Caucus has contributed to Herseth so far."

In the battle for Washington's 5th district, the GOP is avoiding attacks on Democratic challenger Donald Barbieri and is instead focusing attacks on the national image of liberals "specifically House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco." LINK


The Associated Press runs through Nader's Sunday advice to the Kerry campaign, and the Boston Globe's Pat Healy adds that an anonymous Kerry campaign source affirmed they plan to have a sit-down with Nader. LINK

The conventions:

The Washington Post's Michael Powell previews the protests that anti-Bush groups are attempting to stage in New York City during the Republican Convention in August. LINK

The New York Post reports some Gotham biz near the Garden is getting so nervous they are going to move their workers come convention time. LINK

Tramps like us: The New York Daily News writes "Democratic operatives are buzzing that the Boss has been talking about staging a free concert somewhere on Sept. 2, when President Bush is due to address the Republican National Convention."

Weekend must-reads:

The New York Times explored how proponents of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage may not be finding the groundswell of support they anticipated across the country. LINK

On Sunday, the Washington Post's Alan Cooperman looks at how clergy of Episcopalian, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Conservative Judaism in Massachusetts are trying to decide whether they should preside over same-sex marriage ceremonies and risk the consequences within their churches. LINK

On Saturday, Jonathan Finer of the Washington Post wrote that opponents of same-sex marriage are pushing forward with a plan to amend state and federal constitutions to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, regardless of what's about to happen in Massachusetts. LINK

The Boston Globe's Pat Healy on Saturday reported that Kerry met with gay-rights groups to solidify an alliance between them and his campaign, while making peace with gay leaders who are angry with Kerry's position on same-sex marriage. LINK

On Sunday, Peter Canellos of the Boston Globe chronicled how the gay rights movement went from hesitating on the issue of gay marriage when its organizers began 14 years ago to full steam ahead to what had been considered unthinkable. LINK

Newsweek's Howard Fineman writes that the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign has brought out its secret weapon: First Lady Laura Bush. LINK

The Washington Post's Tom Edsall, Sarah Cohen and James Grimaldi began their two-part look at the Bush Money Machine on Sunday, examining how the Bush family's network of political and business contacts evolved into Pioneers, Rangers and Super Rangers -- and what those bundling fundraisers get for their work. LINK

"Since 1998, Bush has raised a record $296.3 million in campaign funds, giving him an overwhelming advantage in running against Vice President Al Gore and now Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.). At least a third of the total -- many sources believe more than half -- was raised by 631 people."

More: "Of the 246 fundraisers identified by The Post as Pioneers in the 2000 campaign, 104 -- or slightly more than 40 percent -- ended up in a job or an appointment."

The New York Times' Stevenson looked at the President's attempt to increase his share of the Jewish vote this November. LINK

"President Bush's Middle East policy may or may not help bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but at home it is giving Republicans a chance to make inroads among a crucial element of the Democratic base: Jewish voters and donors."

"Strategists in both parties and analysts at Jewish organizations say the Bush campaign, capitalizing on the president's strong support for Israel, has made an aggressive effort to court Jewish contributors, long a backbone of the Democratic Party's financial support."

Other Noteworthy items from the story include a reminder that large Jewish populations exist in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida. Also, Matthew Dowd's expectations setting for better than the President's 2000 showing but not quite as good as Reagan's 1980 showing with Jewish voters.

"Pit bull" or "attack puppy?" You decide. RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie got some Sunday profile treatment courtesy of the New York Times' Rick Lyman. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' John-Thor Dahlburg wrote on Sunday about this weekend's Hispanic Leadership Summit in Florida, where Latino Democrats gathered to get out the Hispanic vote for Kerry. Chairman McAuliffe told the assembled faithful that winning the hearts and minds (or at least votes) of two thirds of the three million Hispanic voters could put Kerry over the top in Pennsylvania, Florida and Arizona. LINK

Time Magazine's Joe Klein sees "a sophisticated sense of political timing" on Sen. Kerry's part by sticking with issues such as education and health care on the stump and allowing the pictures out of Iraq and the Bush Administration's reaction to them to play out mostly without comment. LINK

The New York Times Todd Purdum provided a Sunday look at Kerry's youthful years at St. Paul's boarding school. LINK

"…to a striking degree, the personal qualities that propel him -- and daunt him -- are the same ones that buoyed and bedeviled him when he was 16 and striving to succeed at St. Paul's, then an austere all-boys enclave, the seventh school Mr. Kerry had attended by the time he arrived here in eighth grade."

"Mr. Kerry has always been a pace apart in every world he has inhabited - from grade school to college to Vietnam to the Senate - moving forcefully and successfully through diverse milieus without ever being fully of them. To his critics, his ambition has always been just a little too obvious, his manner too calculating. To his friends, his tenderheartedness and complexities have been too little understood. Always and everywhere, his seriousness has stood out."

And the Times' Joseph Berger provided a sidebar look at Kerry's grandfather's Jewish roots. LINK

George Butler's cinematic look at John Kerry is due out late this summer, reports Time's James Carney. LINK

On Sunday, the Washington Post's David Broder warns the Kerry campaign that "strength" might not be the best field on which to challenge President Bush, given the compromises and seeming flip-flops that inevitably rise as part of a long Senate career. LINK

"…by accepting that "strength" is the password to those more promising policy debates, the Kerry campaign in effect has agreed to fight on Bush's turf. … Whether they have chosen the right battleground is another question."

The Los Angeles Times' Matea Gold on Saturday reported Sen. Kerry's comments that with the right leadership, European countries who have refused to get involved in Iraq might come aboard. LINK

The Boston Globe's "Armchair Strategist," Dan Payne, wondered in print on Sunday why, given the worst month of Bush's presidency and sliding poll numbers, Kerry isn't doing better. LINK

Newsweek's Richard Wolffe profiles dueling ad maestros Mark McKinnon and Mike Donilon, and their air war of messages. LINK

The Washington Post's Chuck Babington on Sunday looked at the scorched-earth opposition between Republicans and Democrats over the war in Iraq. LINK

On Saturday, the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler reported Secretary of State Colin Powell's comments that if the interim Iraqi government asked the U.S. to pull its troops out after July 1, the U.S. would comply. LINK

Buried in Time's cover story, Duffy, Cooper, and Dickerson include this: "Meanwhile, lawmakers who last week felt blindsided by the prison abuses are beginning to feel misled as well. Knowledgeable government sources told Time that House Intelligence Committee Democrats asked the Pentagon last January about an internal Army report on dangerous conditions and poor management at the Abu Ghraib prison. The sources said Pentagon aides told the panel that no such report existed-though it had been finished for months. A Pentagon spokesman had no immediate response." LINK

The Washington Post's Robin Wright examined the "tepid" reaction to Secretary of State Colin Powell's remarks at the conference of the World Economic Forum, including the Palestinian foreign minister who commented that Powell offered "nothing new." LINK

The Boston Globe's Charles Radin called Powell "animated and passionate" during the speech. LINK

Some have wondered if the recent prison abuse controversy will diminish the Administration's argument before the Supreme Court regarding detainees at Guantanamo. Alberto Gonzales took to the New York Times op-ed page on Saturday to say worry not, and reassert the Administration's justification for handling detainees outside the parameters of the Geneva Convention. LINK

John McCain's emphatic denials don't seem to be working. So, what will it take for a newspaper like the New York Times to keep the Kerry-McCain ticket talk off the front pages? Perhaps, Sen. Kerry will have to break his self-imposed silence on the subject matter and declare McCain not in contention… unless, of course, that isn't true. Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Jodi Wilgoren teamed up to fan the flames in Saturday editions of the Gray Lady. LINK

The New York Post's Brad Hamilton took a closer look at Sen. Nelson (who has apparently not spoken with Sen. Kerry about the VP job) as a contender for the number two spot on Kerry's ticket. LINK

The Washington Post's Tom Edsall and Dan Balz on Saturday wrote up the FEC's decision -- or non-decision -- to delay action on 527 groups. LINK

Oops. The Associated Press reported Vermont state officials had miscalculated the number of boxes of Dean gubernatorial records that had been sealed. It turns out he sealed a smaller percentage of records than either of his two most recent predecessors. LINK

On Sunday, Susannah Rosenblatt of the Los Angeles Times (field trips!!!!) reported that Tuesday's Oregon primary could be the last best bet for the presidential campaign of Rep. Dennis Kucinich. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Stuart Pfeifer on Sunday looked at the saga of Diebold Election Systems -- from the electoral process it was expected to save to the management and technical problems that are casting a shadow on its future. LINK

The Washington Post's Chuck Babington took a look Sunday at how redistricted Texas is endangering the jobs of five Democratic U.S. House members in an effort for the Lone Star State to be represented solely by Republicans. LINK

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET): —8:00 am: House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) speak before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's Policy Conference 2004, Washington, D.C. —9:00 am: Secretary of State Colin Powell addresses the Wake Forest University 2004 commencement ceremony, Winston-Salem, N.C. —9:00 am: The New York State Democratic Party holds its annual convention and nominates Sen. Charles Schumer for a second term, New York, N.Y. —9:30 am: Sen. John Kerry attends commemorative signing ceremony on 50th anniversary on Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka, Kan. —9:30 am: The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals meets to hear arguments, Washington, D.C. —10:00 am: African-American pastors hold a press conference to oppose the move by judges in Massachusetts to allow same-sex marriages, Washington, D.C. —10:00 am: The U.S. Supreme Court meets to hand down decisions and release orders, Washington, D.C. —10:00 am: The U.N. Security Council meets on the future of peacekeeping, New York, N.Y. —10:15 am: State Department releases its report on human rights and democracy for 2003 and 2004, Washington, D.C. —10:30 am: Treasury Secretary John Snow presents New Market Tax Credit awards totaling $748 million to seven New York City organizations for economic development in low-income communities, New York, N.Y. —11:30 am: Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) speaks at meeting of Clergy Network for National Leadership Change, Cleveland, Ohio —12:00 pm: The Alliance for Marriage holds a news conference to release a survey showing majority support for the Marriage Amendment across all racial and political lines, Washington, D.C. —12:30 pm: The House meets for morning business —12:30 pm: Vice President Cheney speaks at fundraising luncheon for Rep. Max Burns, Pooler, Ga. —1:00 pm: President Bush makes remarks at the grand opening of Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, Topeka, Kan. —1:00 pm: Politics Live on ABC News Live and AOL —2:00 pm: The House meets for legislative business —2:00 pm: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld delivers remarks on national security before the Heritage Foundation's President's Club, Washington, D.C. —2:00 pm: The House Armed Services Committee hold an open briefing on the status of stability operations by coalition forces in Iraq with Maj. Gen. Freddie Viggers, military secretary for the United Kingdom, Maj. Gen. Simon Willis, head of the Australian Defense Staff and Lt. Gen. Mieczyslow Cieniuch, first deputy chief for the Polish Armed Forces General Staff, Washington, D.C. —2:00 pm: George Soros delivers the commencement address at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, New York, N.Y. —2:30 pm: The Senate begins consideration of the Department of Defense Authorization bill —3:00 pm: The Senate Finance Committee meets with Australian Trade Minister Mark Vaile to discuss the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement, Washington, D.C. —3:30 pm: Secretary of State Colin Powell addresses the National Conference of Editorial Writers, Washington, D.C. —5:00 pm: Secretary of State Colin Powell hosts reception on the dedication of a book on the 40th anniversary Arts in Embassies program, Washington, D.C. —6:30 pm: Vice President Cheney speaks at reception for Rep. Richard Burr, candidate for Senate, Winston-Salem, N.C. —8:20 pm: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz delivers remarks to the Asia Foundation's 50th Anniversary Dinner, Washington, D.C. —9:00 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a rally with Howard Dean, Portland, Ore.