The Note

"The venerable Capitol Hill eatery, which has been in business for more than 21 years, is usually avoided by prominent Democrats because of a labor dispute that has sparked a daily, one-man picket during lunch hours for several years."

"'We certainly have no problem going to a French place,' Watkins said of a campaign that opposed the war in Iraq. 'But if we had known about the union problem, we would have avoided it. There was certainly no picket outside.'"

The AP's Nedra Pickler reports, "Al Sharpton said Wednesday he's tired of the notion that there are two tiers of candidates in the Democratic presidential race." LINK

"Sharpton questioned why Sens. John Edwards of North Carolina and Bob Graham of Florida are considered top-tier candidates and he is not, even though they are polling at about the same level."

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Todd Frankel reports that Sharpton "is expected to join a rally in St. Louis today that organizers promise will disrupt MetroLink's 10th anniversary celebration at Union Station." LINK

Politics of gay marriage:

Basically, folks are still trying to figure out what Bush meant … since there's already a federal law which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Is Bush hinting he wouldn't mind legislation on non-marriage issues? Ending federal workplace discrimination? Hate crimes? Expanded government benefits for domestic partners? Custody issues? Tax issues?

USA Today 's Lawrence McQuillan reports: "A senior White House official said the president meant that the administration was considering supporting a GOP proposal to amend the Constitution to limit marriage to a man and a woman." LINK Aside from the confusion, it's hard to find a terribly neutral story out there. Maybe Nick Lemann (or the Times ' new public editor) can answer this, but is it possible to write a relatively neutral story about the politics of gay marriage?

Neil Lewis's account in the New York Times ably conveys of the news of the day, just as it conveys, to our ears, something else … LINK We hate to say this, but we expecting a New York Times editorial on Bush and gays that wasn't nearly as sensible in tone as the one actually written. LINK Speaking of counterintuition, actor/playwright Harvey Fierstein uses the Times op-ed page to express his outrage what he sees as an AIDS-chic movement within the gay community. LINK The Boston Globe 's Anne Kornblut writes, "Bush did not condemn homosexuality as some conservatives have done in the past, although his comments suggested that he views it as immoral. Asked to describe his opinion on homosexuality, Bush borrowed a line from the New Testament." LINK

National security politics:

The New York Times 's Adam Nagourney and Phillip Shenon refresh their 9/11 politics browsers and find that while Republicans are going to be willing to subtly link President Bush's re-election chances with his 9/11 stewardship, Democrats remain nervous.

"The decision by [Homeland Security Secretary Tom] Ridge, former governor of Pennsylvania and a close friend of Mr. Bush, not to raise money or appear at presidential or Congressional campaign events was just the latest apparent sign of rising White House sensitivity to Democratic criticism that the president is writing some of the turmoil on the world stage into his re-election script." LINK

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