The Note

Today's Schedule (all times Eastern):

—9:00 am: Senate convenes for legislative business —9:00 am: Secretaries Colin Powell, Don Evans and Spence Abraham address the Earth Observation Summit, D.C. —9:45 am: Off-camera White House press gaggle —9:45 am: Senator John Kerry meets with workers to discuss the economy in Manchester, N.H.— —10:30 am: Senator Joe Biden delivers foreign policy address on U.S. policy in Iraq, D.C. —12:30 pm: On-camera White House press briefing with Scott McClellan —12:30 pm: Reverend Al Sharpton participates in a protest of MetroLink, St. Louis, Mo. —1:15 pm: Senator Joe Lieberman makes remarks and holds press availability at a biotech lab, Lebanon, N.H. —2:15 pm: Congressman Dennis Kucinich addresses the Commonwealth Club, San Francisco —3:00 pm: Governor Howard Dean delivers speech on environmental policy, San Francisco —4:00 pm: Senator Joe Lieberman participates in a roundtable discussion with warehouse distribution employees, Keene, N.H. —5:30 pm: Former Governor Howard Dean, Congressmen Dick Gephardt and Dennis Kucinich, and Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun participate in the United Food and Commercial Workers presidential candidate forum, San Francisco —6:10 pm: Vice President Cheney delivers remarks to the American Legislative Exchange Council, D.C.

NEWS SUMMARY

The facts of national political life:

1. The nation is badly divided, over both policies and President Bush.

2. The Republican Party is overwhelmingly united, first-most around President Bush, second-most around policies.

3. The Democratic Party — lacking congressional majorities, bedeviled by hovering Clintons, divided over the meaning and power of Deanism — is going to remain divided at least until it has a presidential standard bearer, and (depending on the skill and identity of said nominee) maybe beyond.

(If you wanted to put a human metaphor on this division, you'd need to look no further than last evening's … .words … between two perfectly lovely New England ladies, Dorie Clark of the Dean campaign and Judy Reardon of the Kerry campaign — the must-read insider exchange of the cycle.)

Stirring the pot, just the way the RNC likes it, is the New York Post 's Deborah Orin, who says it now a "fact" that Howard Dean is the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. See more below.

For more on (1), see the WSJ/NBC poll in the Journal, Al Hunt's column, the Nagourney/Shenon take-out on national security, and Norah Vincent's Los Angeles Times op-ed about extremes in TV and politics.

For more on (2), see that same Nagourney/Shenon article, the coverage on gay marriage, and more

For more on (3), see Invisible Primary below, for all the Kerry-Dean tussling.

Democrats can be heartened that at least now their presidential campaigns seem to have figured out that talking about the economy is smart politics.

Democrats can be discouraged by the fact that talking about the economy is for now crowded out by talking about who is "worse" on taxes, which Karl Rove might even prefer to Democrats fighting amongst themselves about the war.

The facts of California political life:

1. The state is badly divided between left and right, but the left is still bigger and knows how to handle the media with more skill.

2. The Republican Party's chances of taking over the governorship are going to be in suspended animation until Mr. Riordan makes a decision, and even then, there will be breath-holding over what kind of campaign he runs.

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