The Note

As Bush supporters max out, Dean's are adding up the cash bit by bit, writes Klaus Marre of the Hill. LINK

The politics of national security:

"The more progress we make on the ground, the more free the Iraqis become, the more electricity is available, the more jobs are available, the more kids that are going to school, the more desperate these killers become, because they can't stand the thought of a free society," sad the president in a photo-op with Ambassador Paul Bremer yesterday.

Look for loans to leave the end product as the Iraq conference committee meets to discuss the supplemental at 2:30 this afternoon.

Today the papers say not so fast with the upbeat progress reports.

"When speaking on background, some senior administration officials acknowledge that some of those answers are beginning to ring hollow," writes the New York Times ' Sanger, with blind quotes galore from "senior officials."

"The White House strategy, one senior official noted, depends heavily on choking off those funds, guns and explosives so that the Hussein loyalists are gradually starved of resources. 'To look at the plan," the senior official said, "the starvation effect should have started a few months ago. It didn't — and that's something to worry about.'" LINK

The Washington Post 's Milbank and Ricks join to produce a piece chock full of Pentagon concerns, with "a senior intelligence official" telling the Post "that the United States has a window of three to six months to put down the resistance."

And this from a "senior intelligence official:" "'I am not happy with the kind of information we are getting.'" LINK

The New York Times editorial board says enough with the happy talk, allowing the White House can "claim some success in stabilizing" parts of Iraq but warning the administration "cannot gloss over the continuing violence in Baghdad." LINK

Paul Krugman ties domestic politics to foreign affairs, using the word "crusade" to describe the president's politics at home … LINK

As for the administration's privatization plans for Iraq, the Wall Street Journal writes "skeptics are leery of the administration's emerging economic blueprint, saying it could cause deeper unrest in the dangerous, turbulent country while exposing Iraq too rapidly to stiff outside competition. If privatization isn't done in a way 'consistent with the needs and peculiarities' of Iraq, Trade Minister Ali Allawi says, it could come 'at a very high cost'."

In a sign that the other side feels ready to join the game and shed the (perceived) traditional Democratic weakness on the security front, John Podesta's Center for American Progress hosts its first conference on the topic "New American Strategies for Security and Peace" this morning, with many of the Democratic Party's foreign policy luminaries, including Richard Holbrooke, Sandy Berger and the new John McCain, Senator Joe Biden, scheduled to speak.

In the bipartisan spirit, Senator Chuck Hagel and Rep. Jim Leach are also on the agenda.

On the back-and-forth over the release of documents between Tom Kean's September 11 commission and the administration, this from the White House:

"'There are national security issues, executive privilege issues, common-sense issues,' a senior White House official said. 'We want to be as helpful as we can to Governor Kean and the commission, but these are not the sort of documents you freely share with the outside world.'" LINK

Wilson:

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