The Note

Mary Matalin's new big schtick: the Veep cares about public service too much to defend himself from all these attacks.

The Weekly Standard has highlights of the Vice President's off-the-record remarks at the Gridiron dinner: LINK

Including this great nugget:

"Here's an unsigned question. 'Mr. Vice President, don't you think it's time to step down and let someone else add new energy and vitality to the ticket?'

No . . . I don't. And Rudy [Giuliani], you need to do a better job disguising your handwriting."

"What happened in the aftermath of Sept. 11 was an extraordinary labor of love. Mr. Bush's exploitation of our pain and sense of community to try to gain political advantage should outrage all Americans," writes Faye M. Anderson, the former vice chair of the RNC outreach advisory committee, in a letter to the Washington Post. LINK

Military spending has jumped sharply during the Bush Administration, "prompting warnings by lawmakers and defense analysts that the surge may no longer be sustainable in a time of deepening deficits," writes the Washington Post's Bradley Graham. LINK

"Underneath a 40-foot-tall pink woman's slip held aloft by a helium balloon, about 50 protesters gathered in front of the White House yesterday chanting 'Pink Slip George Bush,' calling for him to be ousted for his handling of the economy and the war in Iraq," writes Lena Sun of the Washington Post. LINK

The New York Times' Sam Dillon Notes the "widespread outcry" in legislatures and "broader public discontent" over the No Child Left Behind act. LINK

Kerry:

In a story sure to be sent around in certain circles today (likely by the same people who tipped our Deb off to it in the first place!), the New York Post's Orin writes that Kerry called Yasser Arafat a ""statesman'" and a "'role model'" in his 1997 book on foreign policy that is now out-of-print, "The New War."

Needless to say, Orin Notes that "Kerry expressed the opposite view eight days ago, when he told Jewish leaders in New York that he shares President Bush's belief that Arafat must be isolated because he's not a 'partner for peace' -- much less a statesman." LINK

The AP's Mike Glover previews Kerry's Monday in Florida, where he is expected to hit the President hard on national security as much as he can while talking about jobs and trade. Glover also Notes that Kerry will likely have a sit-down with Dean this week. LINK

The New York Times' David Halbfinger wraps Kerry's attack on President Bush for "stonewalling" the 9/11 commission, and an exchange on gay marriage with a questioner in Tougaloo, Miss. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Brownstein says it is all about J-O-B-S for John Kerry's White House run, much as it was for the Democratic nominee in 1992. Of course, Brownstein Notes, the President has two pluses his own father didn't: a paramount role of national security issues, and an opponent who looks ripe for the pluckin' on social issues. (Do check out the Panetta quote!) LINK

Writing in the Wall Street Journal's opinion page on Democrats and the South,, James Taranto says it is not the Civil Rights Act, but rather Vietnam and social issues that have split the Dems and Southern voters.

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