The Note




When in this world the headlines read Of those who's hearts are filled with greed And rob and steal from those in need To right this wrong with blinding speed goes

-- famous Thai poem, or, perhaps, lyrics from the theme song to "Underdog"

Republicans who claim Proximity to Bush continue to offer up blind quotes fretting over the ability of the BC04/White House message machine to frame the debate in a disciplined and agenda-setting manner.

It's not only the real and perceived Democratic Party unity contrasted against these GOP public concerns that have Democrats a bit more giddy than they should be.

And it isn't just the new specter of the Spanish election returns (Check with Matt Dowd on any depressing news in the cross tabs.)

Instead, turn from current events to high school physics to get some insight into the state of play.

vec-tor (n.): "A quantity, such as velocity, completely specified by a magnitude and a direction." LINK

The relative directions the political vectors of President Bush and John Kerry have been heading (both in the polls and in the minds of the Gang of 500) and the speed with which they have been heading that way (read: fast) for all of 2004 are causing much of the aforementioned rumblings — despite Dowd's warnings for the past year about the president falling behind in the horserace polling.

But, perhaps it is in Newton's First Law of Motion where we can find the best explanation for the elephantine hand wringing:

"Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it." LINK

Of course an external force can be something unscheduled like the capture of Osama bin Laden, or a major upswing in the Dow that sets the economy on a course to create 2.6 million new jobs this year. (For now, set aside those Spanish elections and the latest gasoline price reports … .)

But looking at the calendar, it is perfectly likely that the President will not be able to change the direction of his political vector until he gives his acceptance speech in the World's Most Famous Arena at the Republican National Convention in September.

It is this current trajectory of motion that gives Democrats a sense of hope and opportunity and Republicans a bit of heartburn.

Because of the direction and speed of the vectors, Kerry now has the best of both worlds: the aura of the meta-frontrunner, plus the favorable press coverage of the underdog. (Remember: The Note chronicles what IS, not necessarily what ought to be . . . )

President Bush is NOT the underdog in this race, and it is next to impossible to imagine him ever declaring himself to be. But that means that John Kerry is not every day in every way being held to the same level of accountability as the incumbent.

However, it would do us all a bit of good to fully shake off the lingering effects of the Democratic nomination season and remind ourselves that it is still more likely than not that George W. Bush will emerge victorious in November. (NOTE TO THE DENSE AND SKIMMING: THIS IS OUR MONEY GRAPH!!)

First and foremost the Republican electoral college advantage places the president in a better pole position than Sen. Kerry.

If, for the purposes of this exercise, you remove the 17 battleground states and add up the electoral votes from the states considered safe for each party, Republicans have a 190 to 168 advantage over the Democrats and begin the battle for the battlegrounds only 80 electoral votes shy of the promised land.

Sen. Kerry is still operating in a political environment where he has yet to be battle tested as a presidential candidate beyond the friendly confines of a nomination fight. (Yes, Professor Brinkley, we realize he was quite tested in the Mekong Delta, but we're talking about running for president here.)

Kerry still has a great distance to travel before he passes the "sit and have a beer/hang" test that the American people and the press will undoubtedly continue to administer.

And although the Kerry camp is quite confident in their ability to raise and spend $80 million by the time the convention rolls around, the president's $200 (approximately) million war chest will likely allow voters to come in contact with the Bush-Cheney message of "steady leadership" more often than with John Kerry's call for change.

The concept of inertia is instructive here too. To use Bill Clinton's job interview metaphor, it is far easier for a voter to come to the conclusion that the president's contract should be renewed than it is to decide to both fire the president and hire Sen. Kerry.

As history demonstrates (and as you no doubt saw on The Note segment of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos") the power of incumbency is impressive.

Twenty-eight presidents have run for reelection with the trappings of the office surrounding them. By a ratio of nearly 2-to-1, the American people have given those presidents the opportunity to continue their service (18 to 10).

There is no doubt that the country is closely divided and the President's trajectory is of great concern to his supporters and seen as a great opportunity for his detractors, but it is important to take a step back and remember just how tough a climb John Kerry has ahead of him.

And while the President should continue to be held accountable for what HE says, it's time to start holding John Kerry plenty accountable also.

President Bush visits Pennsylvania today. He hosts the prime minister of the Netherlands and speaks about health care tomorrow; celebrates St. Patrick's Day at the White House on Wednesday; speaks to troops at Ft. Campbell, Ky., on Thursday; speaks about the Iraqi war and visits wounded soldiers in Walter Reed on Friday; and holds his first campaign rally on Saturday in Florida.

Sen. Kerry is in Washington, D.C. today — meeting separately with Philadelphia's mayor, Gerald McEntee, and Al Sharpton. He visits West Virginia tomorrow and returns on Washington, D.C. on Wednesday before a vacation at a location still officially TBD.

Rev. Al Sharpton is in Washington, D.C. today to meet with Kerry.

Rep. Kucinich campaigns in Illinois today. He will be in New York on Saturday.

Ralph Nader is in Washington, D.C. today.

Tomorrow, Illinois holds its Senate primary; State Sen. Barack Obama is the leading candidate for Democrats. Businessman Jack Ryan leads the Republican race. Many voters are undecided.LINK

Kerry is expected to clinch the nomination; and "Staffers," a documentary about life on the campaign trail featuring members of the Kerry campaign, airs on the Discovery Times Channel.

Wednesday is St. Patrick's Day. Get those reservations for lunch early!

On Thursday ABC's George Stephanopoulos moderates a debate between Catholic University graduates Ed Gillespie ('83) and Terry McAuliffe ('79) at their alma mater. In Seattle and on Larry King Live, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean announces his new post-campaign political organization.

On Friday BC '04 campaign manager Ken Mehlman and former Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi address the Institute for Politics, Democracy, and the Internet's Politics Online Conference at George Washington University, D.C.

Also Friday, it's the first anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war. Watch ABC News all this week for special coverage.

Saturday brings the first day of spring; Wyoming, Alaska and Guam hold Democratic caucuses.

ABC News Vote 2004: Spain:

It's no secret that the pan-Atlantic Chattering Classes will spend the day constructing analogies between the victorious Socialist Party, various other European opposition parties, and the Democrats here at home.

And coming up with scary "what-ifs" for the fall.

And speculating about the political effects of the withdrawal of Spanish troops.

There is one significant difference for domestic comparisons, anyway: Spaniards were much more public and vocal in their dissent against the war than Americans have been. Way before the terrorist strikes in Madrid, anti-war sentiment among the middle class was pitched. It's less pronounced and different here in the U.S.

The Democrats want to use doubts about the war to challenge the credibility of the incumbent, alleging that President Bush can't be trusted. (Add for multilateralists: "and has squandered American credibility.") Further, Rodruiguez Zapatero based his campaign on anti-war sentiment. (That's not something that, say, the Conservative Party in Britain has done).

The biggest similarities (aside from the too-easy "Democrats are Socialists" epithet) we can find between Kerry and Mr. Zapatero is that they are both tall. Both lawyers. Both began their political career at a young age. (So far as we can tell, Kerry is not nicknamed "Bambi.")

Steven Komarow of USA Today writes that, "On both sides of the Atlantic on Sunday, analysts were suggesting that the turnabout in Spain raises troubling questions for the global war on terrorism and future support for the war in Iraq, questions that eventually could reverberate back into the American political scene." LINK

The New York Times' David Sanger Notes that the Administration "must now fight the perception, accurate or not, that acts of terror against America's allies can sway nations into rethinking the wisdom of standing too closely with Mr. Bush."

More: "'We don't know how big a factor the Madrid bombing was in the outcome,' a senior American official" told Sanger. "'We don't know that what happened in Spain marks a broader trend. But I wouldn't be telling the truth if I said this is the kind of outcome we might have wished for.'" LINK

(That doesn't sound like Dr. Rice to us AT ALL!!!!)

The Los Angeles Times' Wilkinson writes, "Numerous voters said they believed Spain's support for the Bush administration had put it in the cross hairs of Islamic terrorists." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the Battlegrounds:

The Washington Post's Dan Balz and Jim VandeiHei whittle away at the slate of Great 18 battleground states, narrowing it down to 17, then 10, then five, then … basically … to Wisconsin and Iowa.

"In 18 states, the winner's margin was 6 percentage points or less, and at the start of the 2004 general election, at least 17 are seen as competitive battlegrounds, as the campaigns' initial advertising strategists suggest. The one exception is Tennessee, which cost Al Gore the presidency when it went for Bush. Without Gore on the ballot this year, the Republicans rate the favorite there." LINK

"Judging from interviews with strategists on both sides and with outside analysts, 10 of the closest states from four years ago are seen as the most competitive as the campaign begins. Bush and Gore split them five-five. The Bush states that may be most vulnerable to Democratic takeover are Florida, Ohio, Missouri, New Hampshire and Nevada, while the five Gore states eyed by the GOP are Pennsylvania, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and New Mexico."

"The results of 2000 underscore the electoral parity between the parties in both the competitive and noncompetitive states. In the 32 states and the District that were decided by more than 6 percentage points, Republicans won 21 while Democrats captured 12. But when measured in electoral votes, the two parties' bases are more even: The GOP states account for 179 electoral votes while the Democratic states, including California and New York, total 168."

"Republicans express more optimism about their prospects in three other Midwestern states: Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, where they hope cultural issues will trump economic issues."

"In Iowa, a year of Democratic campaigning has left Bush damaged. In Wisconsin, the Bush campaign is running ads from the southern reaches of Madison to the rural lakes and woods country of Rhinelander to undo the impact of job losses and the damage Bush sustained during the Democratic primaries. But Republicans connected to the Bush campaign say all three could tilt to the president in the fall."

Referencing "some political observers," the Palm Beach Post reports that Kerry "could abandon his campaign in [Florida] later this year — just as Bill Clinton did in 1992 — to spread his limited resources to potentially more fertile political turf in the Midwest and Southwest. After all, the closest election in 2000 was not in Florida, where President Bush defeated Al Gore by 537 votes, but in New Mexico, where Gore won by 366 votes." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: "foreign leaders" for Kerry:

Sen. Kerry: Let us know when and if you call P-M-elect Zapatero … .

Everyone everywhere Noted Secretary Colin Powell's raised eyebrow on the Sunday shows yesterday.

"'I don't know what foreign leaders Senator Kerry is talking about … .It's an easy charge, an easy assertion to make. But if he feels it is that important an assertion to make, he ought to list some names. If he can't list names, then perhaps he should find something else to talk about."

Kerry was dogged elsewhere, per ABC News' Karen Travers:

Sen. Kerry's discussion in the tightly packed auditorium at Northampton Community College yesterday turned into a seven-minute volley between Senator Kerry and Cedric Brown, a 52-year-old registered Republican who owns a small sign business in the Lehigh Valley area.

Brown demanded to know more about Kerry's comments last week in Florida about his meetings with foreign leaders who said they supported his campaign and who he met and when.

The crowd was clearly on Kerry's side of the court, booing Brown as he continued to go after the Senator demanding answers. "That's none of your business," Kerry said at one point, eliciting cheers from the crowd, but Kerry quickly quieted them down, saying that this is democracy, and allowed Brown to continue his questioning.

Kerry closed out the exchange by asking Brown "Are you a Republican? You answer the question … did you vote for George Bush?" When Brown responded that he did, Kerry thanked him and said "See democracy works both ways."

And judging by the reaction of the crowd, it was "Game, Set, Match" to the Senator in the room, but the press coverage was less adulatory.

"[Kerry] was repeatedly called 'a liar' during [a] public forum by a heckler, Cedric Brown, who interrupted Kerry's comments on health care, education and the economy to raise questions about the assertion of foreign endorsements. Under questioning by Kerry, Brown described himself as a Bush supporter." LINK

"At a fundraiser in South Florida last Monday, Kerry told reporters: 'I've met with foreign leaders who can't go out and say this publicly, but, boy, they look at you and say, 'You've got to win this. You've got to beat this guy [President Bush]. We need a new policy.' Things like that.'"

"Kerry said Sunday he wouldn't disclose names because doing so could hurt those nations' relations with the Bush administration. But he reiterated that he had met with, and talked to, foreign representatives about the election."

"'The point is that all across the world America and Americans are meeting with a new level of hostility' because of the policies of the Bush administration, Kerry told reporters. ' . . . I think anyone who has traveled abroad knows how other countries have lost respect for us, how we've fumbled the goodwill we had after September 11."

Matea Gold of the Los Angeles Times includes the "heard from" vs. "met" debate surrounding John Kerry's word choice. LINK

" . . . reporters pressed Kerry to clarify whether he had met with these officials in person. The candidate insisted that he merely said he had "heard from" foreign leaders in his original remark."

"In fact, Kerry told donors at a fundraiser in Hollywood, Fla., on March 8, 'I've met foreign leaders who can't go out and say this publicly, but boy, they look at you and say, 'You gotta win this; you gotta beat this guy.'"

The Wall Street Journal's editorial board "sure hope[s] Mr. Kerry isn't giving … countries the idea that if they can merely stonewall for another few months, the Senator will then ride to their rescue."

More on the exchange in: the Washington Times: LINK

The Boston Globe:

The New York Times : LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the perils of incumbency:

Time's Dickerson and Tumulty take a look at the key dynamics to watch for over the next several months, asking if Bush can catch his stride (and teasing a return to the campaign by "semi-retired" Karen Hughes!), if an exhausted Kerry can keep up the pace, and asks how nasty will the election season get?

And the duo reports this interesting fact that might mean more to the Wilson Boulevard set than any poll in a battleground state:

"The president's mother, in particular, is worried that she has seen this movie before. Says the official: 'She does not want to see her family go through a '92 thing again.'"LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's David Rogers wraps the debate over whether the administration knew before it was signed that the $400 billion Medicare bill would actually cost about $535 billion.

The New York Times ' Lynette Clemetson writes that while Richard Foster's disagreement with his Administration bosses over dollar figures for Medicare reform is not surprising, "That the unassuming numbers cruncher would be caught in a public firestorm over those disagreements, most conceded, is shocking." LINK

The Department of Health and Human Services has produced "made-for-television 'story packages,'" the New York Times' Robert Pear reports, which praise the Medicare bill using actors posing as journalists and include suggested introductions for anchors to read. LINK

Pear doesn't make the true identities of the "journalists" clear, however.

John Diamond of USA Today reports on a classified Senate investigative report on pre-war intelligence that is not so flattering to President Bush. LINK

Diamond writes of incomplete information leading to firm warnings. "The committee report criticizes Tenet and the CIA for consistently seizing on the worst-case scenario of the Iraq threat and overriding the views of intelligence agencies in areas where those agencies had expertise."

Time's Joe Klein outlines major questions facing President Bush as he heads into his session with the 9/11 commission. LINK

Klein writes that while the image of the president from the aftermath of 9/11 is probably being saved by his campaign "for the last, emotional moments of the election next fall," these looming questions facing him could overshadow that image and create one much-less flattering.

Over history, there is no link between taxation and unemployment, writes the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush vs. Kerry:

No one can bang away on a keyboard like he can.

The Los Angeles Times' Ron Brownstein is furious with both the Bush and Kerry campaigns as well as with the national political press corps. LINK

"It was amateur hour all around when President Bush's reelection campaign released an ad last week accusing John F. Kerry of planning to raise taxes by $900 billion if he won the White House. The Bush campaign's justification for the charge was specious. The Kerry campaign's response was misleading. And the vast press corps covering the campaign almost entirely failed to illuminate the holes in each side's arguments."

The AP's Ron Fournier writes that with such a super early start to the presidential campaigning, President Bush and Senator Kerry are "in a race to shape the campaign for the White House on their terms." LINK

"Bush partisans fret over the president's sagging poll numbers and wonder whether he let Democratic criticisms go unanswered too long. Kerry backers tremble over the Republican's financial advantages and wait anxiously for Kerry to fashion a general election message."

Note: Fournier is the winner of today's Best-Use-of-a-Childhood-Riddle contest: "While sticks and stones may break some bones, negative advertising will hurt you."

In today's Roll Call, Stuart Rothenberg writes that despite the Bush campaign's early ads that "have begun to spotlight Senator John Kerry's (Mass.) record in a way that Democrats won't like," the campaign has not been aggressive and in an attempt to stay presidential, the president and his campaign "are starting to look a little, well, wimpy."

Soon to be hall-o'-famer Jann Wenner tells Lloyd Grove he is looking forward to helping Kerry's campaign and then keys off the candidates' musical styles to describe the 2004 election. "That's the choice for our country: Springsteen or Wayne Newton. I know what my choice will be." LINK

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

Bob Novak scrutinizes the motives of Sen. John McCain:

"What transforms McCain from a conscience into a hairshirt is his refusal to consider any adjustment toward party loyalty in a presidential election year. Two weeks ago, he presided over Senate hearings on his global warming bill that dovetails with the Democratic election-year agenda. Last week, he joined with Democratic senators to pass a budget amendment that would effectively rule out tax cuts. Because neither of these proposals has the slightest chance of becoming law, they become exercises in politics — Democratic politics." LINK

"Worse yet is what the veterans of McCain's 2000 presidential campaign say when no reporters are around. Other Republicans have been shocked by how contemptuous they are of the president and his record. At one recent private dinner, what the former McCain campaign operatives said was hardly distinguishable from Democratic ranting against Bush. That may be a cause or a result of McCain's conduct — or possibly a combination of both."

Elisabeth Bumiller reflects on "Bush Time": "Out of any given 24 hours in Washington, Mr. Bush will generally spend 11 hours working, 7 hours sleeping and 6 other hours in the White House residence." And Bumiller drops this bombshell of a line as casually as could be: "the president is generally awake by 5 a.m., when he has coffee and reads the newspapers in bed with his wife." LINK

The New York Times' Michael Slackman Notes that the president and his opponent would be wise to learn the main political lesson gleaned from the portrayal of 9/11 during the 2002 elections in New York: the campaigns should both tread very lightly. LINK

The theme song in the BC04 ad "Safer, Stronger" sounds eerily similar to the Hill Street Blues theme.

Notice the four measures beginning with "a day of tragedy … " LINK

And the first four measures of the Hill Street Blues theme. LINK

The New York Post ed board writes that the Democratic Party (and throw the liberal media in there too) is trying to shift the agenda for the election to the sagging economy, (which is doing just fine thank you very much,) and that the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign is "going to have to work like the dickens to correct the record. This time, it's not the economy stupid."LINK

The Wall Street Journal's editorial board thinks the mistake made last week in regard to the manufacturing czar position "was the Bush Administration's in thinking that the way to produce more jobs in manufacturing is by creating one more job in government."

The Wall Street Journal's Michael Phillips reports that the Interior Department's inspector general ruled that department officials based a controversial Pacific Northwest water policy on "scientific evidence" rather than "pressure from White House political adviser Karl Rove."

The Note on TV:

In case you missed the must-see "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" yesterday, The Note on TV featured a demonstration of what we here at The Note find to be a rather uncanny father/son campaign message resemblance between Bush 41 and Bush 43 — we thought the similarities were just so striking, they needed to be highlighted.

41: And Governor Clinton tries to be on every side of every issue. And you cannot have that as President of the United States.

43: In fact, Senator Kerry's been in Washington long enough to take both sides on just about every issue.

41: Today, America's economy is working its way through an era of profound change.

43: As the economists say this is a time of transition, it's a time of change.

41: Think of this in terms of the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He said, well, I agree with the minority, but I guess I would have voted with the majority. What kind of leadership is that?

43: Once again, Senator Kerry is trying to have it both ways. He's for good intelligence. Yet he was willing to gut the intelligence services. And that is no way to lead a nation in a time of war.

ABC News Vote 2004: Sen. John Kerry:

From ABC News campaign reporter Karen "Ed Needs a Break" Travers:

"I won the beer!" declared Sen. John Kerry in the Kerry campaign press corps ping-pong tournament in historic Quincy, Ill.

Kerry traveled to the small town on the Mississippi River to capture a bit of history and announce a proposal to President Bush that the two participate in monthly debates throughout the election year but also indulged his competitive side for a few brief minutes.

Using Quincy as the backdrop for his debate challenge allowed Kerry to invoke the historic Lincoln-Douglas debates in the 1858 Senate election, the sixth of which took place just blocks away from the junior high school where Kerry addressed supporters.

In an appearance in the press filing center after the event, Kerry picked up a paddle and took on the closest reporter in an impromptu game of ping-pong. The athletic Kerry didn't need long to slice a shot past the reporter and declare himself the winner of the free beer that was promised on a poster board hanging in the gym.

The ping-pong tournament would prove to be a good warm-up for the back and forth that Kerry got into at a town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pa., yesterday that was billed as an "honest discussion on health care," but veered off onto other topics for much of the event.

The Kerry campaign rolled back into Washington DC late last night and is taking advantage of having the Senator in one place today — Kerry has back-to-back-to-back meetings scheduled today with Philadelphia Mayor John Street, AFSCME President Gerry McEntee and Rev. Al Sharpton.

Campaign officials have said that there is no specific agenda for the meeting with Sharpton today, just a chance for Kerry to meet up with another opponent on a rare day not on the campaign trail. So it seems that all those waiting with bated breath for a Sharpton endorsement and photo op will have to hang on a little longer.

Jim Drinkard of USA Today writes of Kerry's big push to tap into key fundraisers for his former Democratic rivals in order to reach his goal of raising $80 million before the Democratic convention. LINK

It seems to be paying off. Former candidates Sen. John Edwards and Gen. Wes Clark have already allowed Kerry to pitch their donors, and Rep. Dick Gephardt plans to. "The early salvos signaled an expensive pre-convention period that Democrats appear ready to subsidize. 'I've been in politics for 25 years, and I've never seen this kind of cooperation,' says Nancy Parrish, who was national vice chairman of Clark's campaign."

The AP's Jennifer Kerr writes that Howard Dean, a bitter rival of John Kerry's during the campaign, "praised the Massachusetts senator as someone who will 'make a far better president' than George W. Bush," during his appearance on that Sunday show on that other network yesterday LINK

The AP reports that Kerry's support of NAFTA may cause problems for him in one of those uber-important battleground states, Ohio. LINK

The New York Times ' David Halbfinger Notes that Kerry's quick response ad last week offers a glimpse of how the campaign will try to face the challenge of "redefin[ing] a president about whom most voters have very strong opinions, in the face of Mr. Bush's huge financial advantage." The Kerry strategy will include policy specific town hall forums, the portrayal of Kerry as a fighter not willing to take the president's attacks unanswered, and (as a means to free media) the use of the news of day to highlight what Kerry sees as flaws in Bush Administration policies. LINK

The New York Times ' Bill Safire winces at Kerry's grammar and calls his second-day response to the "crooked" off-the-cuff remark a form of "phony tough." LINK

The Wall Street Journal's David Rogers writes up Kerry's health care proposals and Notes that the recent attack on its likely $900 billion figure "puts him on notice that he must be clearer about what portion of his plan's funding will come from taxes and what from cost savings in other areas."

The Des Moines Register sums up Iowa Gov. Tim Vilsack's prospects as a Veep pick. "[He] is an outsider, at a time when a governor is seen as a better choice than a congressman by many, particularly given Kerry's longevity in Washington." LINK

And with Matt Paul back on his team, he cannot help but go far.

ABC News-TIME Magazine-BBC: "Iraq: Where Things Stand":

This evening on World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, ABC News will release the results of the first media-sponsored national public opinion poll conducted in Iraq — a groundbreaking project jointly sponsored by ABC News, the German network ARD, the BBC, and NHK in Japan, with field work by Oxford Research International of Oxford, England.

The poll consists of in-person interviews conducted Feb. 10-28 with a random, nationally representative sample of 2,500 Iraqis, covering topics including views of the U.S.-led invasion; its impact on the daily lives of Iraqi citizens; and their hopes for the future.

The poll will be an important component of the ABC News series "Iraq: Where Things Stand," a comprehensive reporting project including ABC News, TIME Magazine and the BBC.

"We tried to make this chiefly a personal survey of Iraqis talking about the situation in Iraq — not so much what they think of us, but what they think of what has occurred there," says Gary Langer, ABC's director of polling. "We ask about their personal concerns and situations — their lives overall, security, availability of jobs, access to health care, education and more; whether these have improved or worsened since the war; and their expectations for the future."

The poll also includes political questions on issues such as Iraq's future governance, views of coalition forces and demographic data profiling the Iraqi population.

ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings will anchor "World News Tonight" from Iraq beginning tonight and will report the "Where Things Stand" series for "World News Tonight" and other ABC News broadcasts including "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." Nightline will devote an entire program to "Iraq: Where Things Stand" with reports from Dave Marash, Jim Sciutto and Bob Woodruff.

Weekend must-reads: In Sunday's edition Los Angeles Times' Nick Anderson takes a look at the "dual purpose" the new Bush cable ads serve in targeting a specific demographic and disseminating a larger message. LINK

Note especially the paragraphs about the History Channel! Brilliant!

David Brooks waded in to the debate about Kerry's penchant for amplification and complexity.

Brooks managed the clearest definition of "Post-Cartesian Multivariate Co-Directionality" we've seen in a while." Kerry has made clear that if he is elected president, the nation will never face a caveat shortage. He has established the foragainst method, which has enabled him to be foragainst the war in Iraq, foragainst the Patriot Act and foragainst No Child Left Behind. If you decide to vote for him this year, there would be a correctness in that judgment, but if you decide to vote for George Bush, that would also be correct." LINK

John Harris of the Washington Post displayed on Sunday the basic recipe for how to rip-off a Note idea and make it your own, in his piece on the White House window to define John Kerry: add in one of those hard-to-get Tom Freedman (Carleton '85) LINK quotes, along with an-even-harder-to-get take from one of those press-shy Carleton College political scientists, and — voila! — you have made the concept your own. LINK

The New York Times' Rich Oppel on the Senate budget resolution passed early Friday morning. "Over all, the Senate budget is similar to the White House proposal but calls for slower growth in spending and, after five years, a deficit $56 billion lower than the administration plan. Also, White House officials acknowledge that an amendment approved over objections by Senate Republican leaders will complicate efforts to extend Mr. Bush's tax cuts — though House Republican leaders already have signaled that they intend to kill the provision." LINK

On Sunday, the Washington Post's David Broder praised Rep. Barney Frank for his plan for taxes, wealth creation and technology to combat joblessness and fundamental changes within the economy. LINK

Howard Fineman and Tamara Lipper of Newsweek run down the reasons why the campaign has gone tough early. LINK

Don't miss the memo on Southern strategy written in Sunday's Washington Post Outlook section for Sen. John "Catfish" Kerry from former Rep. Ben "Cooter" Jones (D-Ga.) That's all we're sayin'. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' John Glionna turned in a Sunday portrait of Liberty, Mo., as a case study of a middle-American town divided in the presidential race — which of course will make it a prime target for both the president and Sen. Kerry through November. LINK

On Saturday, the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman and Mike Allen came up with an extraordinary lead about the effects of the missteps and abilities of the Bush economic team: "A string of glaring missteps by President Bush's economic team has raised alarm among the president's supporters that his economic policymakers may have lost the most basic ability to formulate a persuasive message or anticipate the political consequences of their actions." LINK

Note the many amusing iterations of "that remark was not intended for public consumption" in Adam Nagourney's Saturday memo about Kerry's off-the-cuff remarks. LINK

And the brilliant "West Wing" kicker!!!

Democratic National Convention:

With a hint of New York pride, Stefan Friedman of the New York Post writes up both the labor and financial concerns in Boston a little over four months away from John Kerry's Beantown bash. And that sly Kevin Sheekey seems to have picked up Bill Cunningham's penchant for baseball metaphors. LINK

The Clintons of Chappaqua:

Slim Willie may soon overtake Slick Willie as the nickname of choice for President Clinton. The former president recently held a gaggle of the Harlem variety when he talked at length about his successful dieting strategies. LINK

"Bill Clinton, Our Neighbor" is the exhibit currently on display at the local historical society in Chappaqua and apparently the former president's fondness for Hawaiian shirts and lattes from Starbucks is well documented. LINK

John McElhenny of the Globe reports on Sen. Hillary Clinton's appearance at the John F. Kennedy School of Government where she indicated a lack of interest in the Democratic vice presidential slot and answered, "That is exactly right," when asked if that indicated she wouldn't accept the spot if offered.LINK


New York Post state editor Fred Dicker writes, "The Rev. Al Sharpton will discuss ending his failing presidential campaign with representatives of Democratic nominee John Kerry as soon as today … " LINK

The politics of same-sex marriage:

Brian DeBose of the Washington Times reports on recent statements by members of the Congressional Black Caucus that comparisons should not be made between the struggle by homosexuals to legalize same-sex "marriage" and the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The members of Congress claim to be on shaky ground with their constituents after the Democratic nominee John Kerry compared the two issues during a town hall meeting in Jackson, Mississippi, last week. LINK


After previewing his new grassroots organization to elect like-minded candidates on Larry King Live Wednesday, Gov. Howard Dean will begin his magical victory tour at 9:30 am on March 18 with a major speech in Seattle, followed by stops in San Francisco, New York, Burlington, and ending in Washington. D.C.

Next Thursday happens to be Kate O'Connor's birthday, too, but she swears it's a coincidence.

Dean plans to endorse Kerry by the end of the month, appear with him at the Democratic Unity dinner in Washington on March 25, and "absolutely" plans to raise money on Kerry's behalf. But several people who have spoken with Dean do not believe he intends to relinquish control of his 600,000 person plus e-mail list. And almost everyone advising him believes that's the best course of action.

Dean advisers have spoken with several groups, including MoveOn and SEIU, about possible alliances and fundraising help. Some people close to Dean want him to function like a normal politician, traveling the country and raising money … and not devote time to building an organization. So his new group would therefore be akin to a PAC that funds his travel.

Others are interested in the new Dean for America being a MoveOn type group that both supports candidates and embarks on projects of its own. Already, the campaign has helped candidates for local office inspired by Dean for America. Over the weekend, they launched a campaign to help Rep. Jesse Jackson's re-election campaign raise money.

TODAY SCHEDULE (all times ET): —8:30 am: International Association of Firefighters President Harold Schaitberger speaks at the IAFF legislative conference, Washington, D.C. —9:00 am: Clergy members, peace activists, Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Pledge of Resistance and other groups gather for an observance at Walter Reed Hospital and march on the White House, Washington, D.C. —9:45 am: Off-camera press gaggle by White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, Washington, D.C. —10:00 am: Sen. John Kerry discusses his plans for homeland security at the IAFF conference, Washington, D.C. —10:30 am: Rep. Dennis Kucinich attends a Rainbow/PUSH Coalition event, Chicago, Ill. —11:00 am: Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson discusses collective bargaining at the IAFF conference, Washington, D.C. —11:00 am: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld hosts Tunisia Minister for Defense Dali Jazi at the Pentagon, Arlington, Va. —11:30 am: Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary Michael Brown addresses the International Association of Emergency Managers. Alexandria, Va. —11:15 am: Sen. Kerry meets with Philadelphia Mayor John Street, Washington, D.C. —11:45 am: Gov. Jim McGreevey speaks about Internet sales tax issues at the IAFF conference, Washington, D.C. —12:00 pm: Secretary of Education Rod Paige announces new policies regarding the No Child Left Behind Act, Washington, D.C. —12:45 pm: Energy Secretary Spence Abraham answers questions and gives journalists a tour of non-classified Libyan nuclear materials and components, Oak Ridge, Tenn. —1:00 pm: Sen. Kerry meets with AFSCME President Gerry McEntee, Washington, D.C. —1:15 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a rally in Rockford, Ill. —2:00 pm: Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino announces delegation party sites for the Democratic National Convention at the Sam Adams Brewery, Jamaica Plain, Mass. —2:30 pm: President Bush visits Spring Avenue, Ardmore, Pa. —2:30 pm: Vice President Cheney speaks at a luncheon for Rep. Rick Renzi, Phoenix, Ariz. —2:30 pm: Sen. Kerry meets with Rev. Al Sharpton, Washington, D.C. —3:05 pm: President Bush participates in a conversation on Homeownership at the Main Line YMCA, Ardmore, Pa. —3:15 pm: Republican Policy Committee Chairman Christopher Cox discusses House issues at the IAFF conference, Washington, D.C. —3:45 pm: Sen. Paul Sarbanes speaks about fire fighter staffing at the IAFF conference, Washington, D.C. —4:00 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends the Expo for Today's Black Woman, Chicago, Ill. —4:15 pm: Rep. Curtis Weldon speaks at the IAFF conference, Washington, D.C. —4:30 pm: Rep. Ciro Rodriguez speaks about federal presumptive disability for fire fighters at the IAFF conference, Washington, D.C. —5:30 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a get out the vote party at the Prisco Community Center, Aurora, Ill. —7:30 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends an event on healing earth's resources, Chicago, Ill. —8:00 pm: Retired Gen. Tommy Franks analyzes "U.S. leadership in a dangerous world" as part of the Nation's Capital Distinguished Speakers Series, Washington, D.C. —8:30 pm: Vice President Cheney attends a reception for Rep. Steve Pearce, Artesia, N.M. —9:00 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends the Annual Croatian American Society Banquet at the Croatian-American Cultural Center, Chicago, Ill. —9:35 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends an event at the Heartland Cafe, Chicago, Ill. —10:35 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a rally at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill.