Today's Schedule (all times Eastern):
—9:00 am: Senate Judiciary Committee votes on the appeals court nomination of William H. Pryor Jr. —10:00 am: Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with FBI Director Robert Mueller —10:00 am: Senator Lieberman's mother, Marcia Lieberman, visits seniors in Manchester, N.H. —10:05 am: White House Rose Garden event with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and U.S. Civilian Administrator in Iraq Paul Bremer —11:00 am: CIA Director George Tenet testifies before the House Intelligence Committee —11:00 am: President Bush meets with the former president of the Czech Republic —11:30 am: Senator Lieberman tours the Maricopa Skills Center in Phoenix, Arizona. —11:30 am: Marcia Lieberman visits a Meals on Wheels program in Manchester, N.H. —12:30 pm: Paul Bremer speaks at the National Press Club on post-war Iraq —2:15 pm: The President meets with Argentine President Nestor Kirchner —3:00 pm President Bush participates in ceremony for the 2003 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, White House —3:15 pm: Senator Lieberman speaks to the Navajo Nation Tribal Council in Window Rock, Ariz. —5:00 pm: Governor Dean attends a meet and greet in Canterbury, N.H. —5:45 pm: Senator Lieberman meets with Latino community leaders in Phoenix —7:00 pm: Governor Dean attends a community picnic in Lakeport, N.H. —8:00 pm: Deadline for signatures in California recall —8:00 pm: Senator Lieberman addresses the Hotel Employees International Union in Phoenix
With a presidential statement on Iraq taking place write before or right after we intend(ed) to publish today's Note, writing this episode is/was a chronological challenge.
And writing about Niger is always a challenge: the White House argues it distracts from the fact that the nation (and many now carping Democrats) supported going to war against Iraq with or without those 16 words, while the Democrats counter that there are real issues of credibility here (and a chance to keep scoring political points).
So, in the new spirit of The Lists, let us list some things we think are true (keeping in mind "is versus ought-to-be") about the Niger matter at this very specific, fluid point in the news cycle.
1. When a White House puts out bad news on an otherwise busy news day, the bad news isn't JUST crowded out in the products consumers see (Niger isn't even on the front page of the New York Times for instance … ) — it also gets crowded out in newsrooms. Executive producer/editor time yesterday was largely owned by the Hussein son story and Jessica Lynch, as was the time of news assistants, researchers, tape PAs, etc.
2. So reporters assigned to Niger just weren't going to be feeling the love, and, knowing they would not get top billing (and, short of time, thanks to the late hour of the briefing) didn't hump this cycle on the story the way they otherwise would have.
3. When George Bush has a complicated, controversial story which threatens his political health, he turns to Dan Bartlett, whose competence and credibility with the press are a huge asset to this White House.
4. Yesterday's Bartlett/Hadley briefing is a fascinating read. Reading Hadley's tortured explanation of whether the president is responsible for what goes on in the White House makes one nostalgic for the Lanny Davis days.
5. Although a few of today's accounts juxtapose the new/current version of what happened with some of Dr. Rice's past statements, there is more of that to come, including with things said by the president. Get those tape researchers working!
6. Democratic and media suspicions continue to dovetail, and the new/current account is going to be picked at hard in the next day or two.
7. Judge Gonzales can thank his lucky stars there is no independent counsel law on the books.
8. There seems to be some Andy Card-ordered internal investigation going on at the White House that yielded one of the two new memos, but what caused the CIA to suddenly find the one they found? And who debriefed the president (per the briefing) on all this? Has anyone debriefed the VPOTUS?
9. And speaking of questions: Does this end the monster feud between the White House and the CIA? What will the absent Dr. Rice say the next time reporters can question her?
10. When does it become "What did Dr. Rice know and when did she know it?" and if the president's National Security Adviser was a male, would the trajectory be different?
MOST IMPORTANT POLITICAL EVENTS OF THE DAY
1. The president in the Rose Garden.
2. The recall certification in Sacramento.
3. Howard Dean in New Hampshire.
4. Rudy Giuliani at the opening of the RNC.
5. (tie) David Sanger's next phone call with Dr. Rice and whatever Congressman Bill Thomas does.
MOST IMPORTANT NEWSPAPER STORIES OF THE DAY
1. Dan Balz of the Washington Post on the politics of Iraq. LINK
2. The Los Angeles Times on some new recall wrinkles. LINK
3. Harold Meyerson's Washington Post op-ed on Howard Dean, Dick Gephardt, and John Kerry. LINK
4. Ron Fournier's look at some unhappy and worried Republicans on the eve of the RNC summer meeting, who don't like the president's poll numbers or staffing. LINK
5. The San Francisco Chronicle on how California 2003 could end up like Florida 2000. LINK
MOST IMPORTANT POLITICAL DYNAMICS TO WATCH
1. Where is Andy Card?
2. How quickly does Bill Clinton do the "switch" following his "bait" of supportive comments on Niger?
3. Will anyone in the Democratic Party organize the separate outstanding presidential campaign opposition research efforts on yellowcake?
4. Will the RNC meeting be a lovefest, a non-event, or an orgy of pushback?
5. Is Senator Rockefeller's Q going up?
In California recall news today:
-- The Los Angeles Times surveyed California county elections officials who confirmed more than 1.1 million signatures have been verified, well above the threshold to get the recall measure on the ballot.
-- The Secretary of State's office officially puts the current number of verified signatures received at 678,472 or roughly 75% of the total needed. The counties face an 8:00 pm EDT deadline to submit their final totals. Secretary of State Kevin Shelley could certify the recall as early as 8:30 pm EDT today, although he more likely will wait until tomorrow.
-- Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante told reporters he will set a date for the recall election within 24 hours of certification. The timetable would most likely allow replacement candidates more than 24 hours (as some have feared) to declare their candidacies.
-- A very limited timetable for an unplanned recall election has California election officials worried about total chaos at the polls.
-- But hold on: Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante says he doesn't know whether or not replacement candidates should appear on the recall ballot. He thinks that is a decision for the Commission on the Governorship and the California Supreme Court. The Secretary of State's office is reviewing the appropriate statutes.
The White House both talks up yesterday's huge developments in Iraq with the deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons and meets with the visiting Argentine President.
This afternoon, the president and First Lady will participate in an East Room ceremony for the 2003 recipients of the presidential Medal of Freedom.
The highest ranks of the U.S. intelligence community put in an appearance on the Hill - FBI Director Robert Muller at the Senate Judiciary Committee and CIA Director George Tenet at the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman Gephardt heads to South Carolina tomorrow.
Governor Dean campaigns in Canterbury and Lakeport, New Hampshire today.
Senator Lieberman is in and around Phoenix, Arizona for Day Three of "Joe's Jobs Tour" with stops at a jobs center and meetings with the Navajo Nation Tribal Council and Latino leaders. He ends the day addressing the Hotel Employees International Union Local #631. The Senator's mother, Marcia Lieberman, stops in Manchester at a senior center and a meals on wheels program.
No public events for Senators Kerry or Edwards today.
Also no public events for Senator Graham, who is in Washington for briefings on the 9/11 Commission report.
Congressmen Gephardt and Kucinich have no public campaign events.
Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun has no public campaign events.
Reverend Al Sharpton is in Africa.
Politics of national security, Hadley takes his turn: The first take on the new/current Hadley version by Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus in the Washington Post is, we predict, not going to resemble much the next thing they write about the matter, as early as tomorrow. LINK
One has to read closely to find the incredulity.
Ditto the David Sanger/Judith Miller (?!) version in the New York Times (although they see Hadley as "shaken."). LINK
Ditto Jeanne Cummings in the Wall Street Journal .
With the slightly later deadline, slick Maura Reynolds of the Los Angeles Times has Rice putting Hadley in the bowels. LINK
Politics of national security, Uday and Qusay: Dan Balz of the Washington Post looks at the "welcome boost" the president got yesterday, and, with plenty more events (good and bad) to come overseas between now and 11/04, says both parties have to watch out. LINK
The "Democrats learned how quickly events and images can change the context of the political debate at home," while the president got "some breathing room … but perhaps not much more than that."
The New York Post 's Deborah Orin declares yesterday's news very good for the president's political future. LINK
"The death of Uday and Qusay Hussein is a giant boost for President Bush at a time when Democratic presidential contenders have been taking a tougher anti-war stance in the run-up to the 2004 election."
More Orin: "Now the successful operation against Saddam's sons poses problems for Democratic presidential wannabes since more and more of them have been painting the Iraq war as a failure, as if copycatting anti-war contender Howard Dean. Rep. Dick Gephardt (Mo.) was in San Francisco claiming that 'we're losing the peace' in Iraq yesterday — just as freed POW Jessica Lynch was returning home and word was out about the deaths of Uday and Qusay."
Politics of national security: As part of a campaign to intimidate its critics, the Bush White House is seeking to drum him off the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said yesterday. The White House brushed off Durbin's accusations, the Chicago Tribune's Mike Dorning reports. LINK
In a 45-minute floor speech, Durbin alleged a pattern of news leaks from anonymous White House sources, including a story that he had aired classified information in a speech and should be forced from the committee. He also pointed to the disclosure of Ambassador Joe Wilson's wife as a CIA operative as further evidence of the administration's retaliation campaign. Durbin voted against the resolution authorizing war in Iraq and is calling for an investigation into the bad intelligence on Iraq.
"'That is not the way the White House operates. That is not the way the White House press office operates. That is not my style,'" White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.
Sarita Chourey writes in the Hill that Democrat Durbin "defended himself against charges he leaked sensitive information" after "accusations that he disclosed classified information on Iraq after CIA Director George Tenet briefed the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence last week." LINK
John Marshall's column in the Hill explores President Bush's relationship with the intelligence community. LINK
California recall: Michael Finnegan and Allison Hoffman jump ahead of Kevin Shelley's office and report that the Los Angeles Times survey of county elections officials came up with a total of 1.1 million verified signatures, well above the threshold needed for the Secretary of State to certify the recall. LINK
Their story also includes:
1. Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante declaration that he will set an election date within 24 hours of certification.
2. The potential chaos a recall will cause election officials in terms of preparing voting equipment, voter guides (in multiple languages), and training poll workers all within a very very limited timeframe.
3. Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante strangely alluding to the Commission on the Governorship chaired by State Senate leader John Burton. The Lieutenant Governor says the Commission with guidance from the California Supreme Court will have to determine whether or not it is appropriate for replacement candidates to run on the recall ballot.
What Mr. Finnegan and Ms. Hoffman do not include is the possibility of a very high level communications operative for Governor Davis leaving his day job at the Capitol to help shape a recall election strategy. Hmmmm …
Maybe once that person is in place, Rene Sanchez of the Washington Post won't perceive Governor Davis' challenges to be so daunting … but then again, maybe. LINK
Mr. Salladay and Ms. Marinucci team up for the San Francisco Chronicle's coverage of how California 2003 may look very much like Florida 2004, palm trees and all. LINK
"California officials warned Tuesday that a possible meltdown of the statewide election system — akin to the chaos in Florida in 2000 — could occur if they were forced to hold a recall election on Gov. Gray Davis in just two months."
"While Secretary of State Kevin Shelley prepared to certify the unprecedented recall as soon as today, his top-level staff presented a doomsday scenario about the special election itself. California law requires an election within 60 to 80 days of Shelley's announcement, forcing a mad scramble among the counties to throw something together in a matter of weeks."
"'I have to tell you I am frightened by the potential for possible failure of the elections system on a 60-day timetable,' a high-ranking California elections official said Tuesday, asking that his name not be used."
Charlie LeDuff spent some time over the weekend with Congressman Darrell Issa. Once you have read the profile, we guarantee you will be saying "step away from the car" all day long. LINK
Steve Lopez continues to promote his candidacy. LINK
The San Francisco Chronicle's Mark Simon profiles Secretary of State Kevin Shelley. LINK
California papers write up Senator Feinstein's Washington Post op-ed in favor of school vouchers in the District. LINK and LINK
Big Casino budget politics: A big day in Big Casino, with major child tax credit and Medicare action.
On the former, Democrats are trying to get a win or an issue; on the latter, the Republicans are trying to broker a compromise in the face of CBO analysis that will make things tougher.
A compromise offered by Senate Republicans who want to pass the child tax credit is likely to fail, says the New York Times ' David Firestone, for reasons practical and political. Meanwhile, tax cut money will soon arrive at the nation's doorsteps. LINK
USA Today says that Leader DeLay called the Senate float "a very interesting proposal, " but he certainly isn't predicting a deal . LINK
The Wall Street Journal 's Murray and Hitt suggest that Senator Grassley doesn't see the White House working to resolve this as much as Mr. McClellan suggests, and believes the matter is "stalled."
"On Thursday, President Bush is scheduled to visit a federal office in Philadelphia that is printing the checks, using the opportunity to remind voters that the checks are to stimulate the economy," Firestone writes.
"Democrats plan a series of protests on and off the floors of Congress this week to demonstrate their anger that 6.5 million low-income families were left out of the economic stimulus package and will not be receiving the checks. Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, said members of her party would make this 'the week from hell' for Republicans."
As for Medicare, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, per the New York Times ' Robert Pear said he was "personally concerned about losing momentum" in re the conference over Medicare legislation LINK
Thompson suggested that the White House wants what Mr. Pear calls a "workable" bill than one chained to Republican ideology.
Vicki Kemper of the Los Angeles Times writes up the CBO projections putting the cost of both the House and Senate prescription drug plans above the president's desired $400 billion price tag. LINK
Amy Goldstein of the Washington Post has the same grim review. LINK
David Broder, to torture Trent Duffy and Paul Begala (and, frankly, us) proposes that (and we aren't kidding) Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Sandy Weill, and Bob Rubin fund time for Warren Rudman and Leon Panetta to go on TV with Perot-like charts and explain and denounce the defict. LINK
ABC 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect: It's hard to know if Ron Fournier is only quoting the pessimists he talked to, but he finds plenty of Republican leaders from around the nation "alarmed" about the president's poll numbers, the economy, the war, and the Bush honesty-and-trust gold standard. LINK
Speaking of alarmed, was that man outside Penn Station talking into his cell phone about the "collapse" of the president's "internals" and saying he had to get on the phone with "Rove" any former governor we know?
The Wall Street Journal 's sushi-loving John Harwood takes his turn at the "Can Bush transform America and the political balance of power?" story by saying the trouble in Iraq threatens both the president's national security bona fides and his reputation for candor, and that could tilt the answer towards "no":
"It challenges Mr. Bush's twin pillars of 'honesty and competence,' ex-Speaker Gingrich notes in an interview, and 'anytime either of those starts to get threatened they have real problems.' After Mr. Bush passed up the opportunity to accept personal responsibility for disputed words in his State of the Union address, one of his 2000 campaign strategists put it more bluntly: 'I'm toying with the idea that it's time to panic.'"
"Mr. Bush's poll standing hasn't receded to pre-Sept. 11 levels. But another month of bad news and 'his numbers are going to be … very ordinary,' says Democratic pollster Geoff Garin."
New York Post 's Orin writes up the Gillespie's memo we touted in this space yesterday, on the eve of his "Victory Starts Here" summer meeting. LINK
ABC 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect, the money: Brody Mullins and Michael Grass write in Roll Call that "some of the nation's biggest industries were among the top supporters of President Bush, while trial lawyers gave generously to the leading Democratic presidential candidates."
"According to the Center for Responsive Politics, 12 of Bush's top 20 contributors are on Wall Street, such as Merrill Lynch, whose employees gave more money to the president's re-election efforts than anyone else."
ABC 2004: The Invisible Primary:
Harold Meyerson has a must-read op-ed in the Washington Post saying that Dick Gephardt's war support and failure to craft an economic agenda for 2002 basically created Howard Dean, but that John Kerry is best able to win wide support in the party. LINK
Meyerson has perfect pith on his last two sentences:
"In message and manner, Kerry often still fails to connect with his listeners. But if he can put his own house in order, he's the candidate best positioned to unite a party that's not been this angry at itself since 1968."
Tom Edsall jumps the gun by a day in curtain-raising the FEC decision on conventions and soft money. LINK
According to Alexander Bolton of the Hill, "The Federal Election Commission is poised to ban presidential candidates from using their leadership political action committees (PACs) to subsidize their campaigns." LINK
Dean: Governor Dean was followed through New Hampshire yesterday by a van full of press stragglers … and, per a campaign aide, managed to draw 500 people in Portsmouth and a big crowd in Manchester.
He used the former occasion to ask some pointed questions to his rivals, per the Union Leader:
"'Why is it that those in Congress have waited until now to question the intelligence, to question the lack of postwar planning, to question the skyrocketing costs of this war?' Dean said. 'Why were they not asking these questions and seeking the truth nine months ago, before they voted to give the president blank-check authority to go to war?" LINK
"Dean did not mention any of his rivals by name yesterday. But he displayed an enlarged copy of the resolution and noted that it did not require the president to exhaust all diplomatic means before going to war — a slap at Kerry's assertion Monday that Bush circumvented portions of the resolution by not exhausting all diplomatic options or building an international coalition before attacking Saddam's forces."
Dean managed to move 30 points in a poll - Stone Riley, "a 46-year-old software engineer," is now 90 percent sure he'll support Dean, versus 60 percent before he heard him speak, the Nashua Telegraph says. LINK
The Union Leader ed board sees Howard Dean as, well, confused. LINK
The Burlington Free Press has a rah-rah for the local boy story today, Noting that Dean's "fiscal conservatism" may serve him well in the months ahead. LINK
Governor Dean will try to prove his vigah by participating in an 11-mile bike race this Friday in Iowa … . More to come.
We say: thank goodness the Service hasn't joined the campaign yet. Have YOU ever tried to advance an open-air bike race?
We don't get why Michael Kramer called Howard Dean's brand of politics "old fashioned liberalism" without any disclaimers. LINK
Edwards: Senator Edwards opened his South Carolina campaign headquarters yesterday telling reporters: "Voters need to know who I am." LINK
John Wagner of the Raleigh News & Observer reports on John Edwards' newly opened presidential campaign headquarters in South Carolina. He also touches on the South Carolina Democratic party's difficulty raising money to put on a primary. LINK
The Charlotte Observer writes on Edwards' visit to address struggling textile towns in the Carolinas. LINK
Rob Christensen writes in the Raleigh News & Observer that accounts have been leaking out of Edwards' meeting with Erskine Bowles to discuss the likeliness that Edwards will run for Senate re-election. LINK
It appears this letter-writer agrees with Ms. Palmieris' displeasure on Friday's Charlotte Observer article about donations to Edwards. LINK
Gephardt: Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle leads her coverage of Congressman Gephardt's San Francisco speech thusly: LINK
"In a scathing rebuke of White House foreign policy, Rep. Dick Gephardt in San Francisco accused President Bush Tuesday of machismo politics which, he said has threatened America's future security, alienated its allies and bungled the Post -war Iraqi reconstruction."
Gephardt's speech made the top of the New York Daily News' roundup. LINK
Chris Cillizza of Roll Call reports that Richard Gephardt, lagging behind in the money race, will now have fundraiser Jim Cunningham on his team as a finance consultant who "will work in tandem with deputy campaign manager Richard Sullivan."
"Although Sullivan served as the campaign's lead fundraiser during the first six months of the year and Gephardt finished the second quarter a disappointing fifth in overall fundraising, spokesman Erik Smith emphasized that Cunningham's hiring does not mean Sullivan's role would be diminished."
David Shribman sees Dick Gephardt as a man with a plan — and guts. LINK
Graham: The Los Angeles Times' Richard B. Schmitt and Josh Meyer curtain raise the soon to be released 9/11 intelligence report. LINK
The report "finds no specific evidence that officials ignored or missed warning signs that would have enabled them to foil the plot that killed about 3,000 people, congressional and law enforcement sources said Tuesday."
And Bob Graham was able to get a lot of high up ink in the story.
"'I am a very angry man tonight, being informed of what portions of the report are going to be withheld from the public,' Graham told about 40 members of Democratic Leadership for the Twenty-First Century, a group of young Democrats gathered in a dimly lighted cabaret on Wilshire Boulevard."
"'I start from the premise that in a democracy, the people should know as much as the government knows unless there is a very compelling case that the information threatens American security interests,' Graham said. 'I think a different standard has been applied to this report, and that is, 'What is it that reduces the embarrassment to agencies that acted in an incompetent manner?''"
Kerry: Senator Kerry's first REALLYBIG Meetup night - that's Thursday - has attracted hosts in 106 cities according to Meetup's Myles Weissleder. Locations range from Mona No Joka in Everett, Washington to Blue Dawg Bagels in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We'll get a handle on attendees - and you can bet it'll be instantly compared in some press release by some campaign - when the events are over.
Kucinich: Before the latest White House admission, Congressman Kucinich called on Vice President Cheney to explain his role in the Niger evidence. He and two other Members of Congress sent Cheney a letter asking "10 questions that they want the vice president to answer, such as: 'Did you or a member of your staff at any time direct or encourage CIA analysts to disseminate unreliable intelligence?' the Associated Press reports. LINK
Lieberman: The star of "Only In America" is ready to hit the campaign trail for her son in New Hampshire. LINK
Sharpton: Reverend Sharpton chatted about presidential politics with Page Six recently on a flight to Palm Beach and talked up Dr. Dean. LINK
South Carolina: Yesterday, the Note misspelled the name of a reporter for the Charleston Post and Courier. She is Kathleen Hennessey. And we regret the error.
David Lightman writes that "there are some telltale signs the Democrats are in more trouble than they will admit" money wise, including in the Palmetto State:
"South Carolina. The state's crucial Feb. 3 primary, which each of the Democrats has already been stumping hard to win, has been so strapped for funds as to be in danger of being canceled." LINK
"Party Chairman Joe Erwin said Tuesday the party needs between $400,000 and $500,000 to run it. The party has not raised the money yet, but former Chairman Dick Harpootlian said Tuesday "it will happen.'"
Iowa: It's a chopper, baby. LINK
While several '04 Democrats have blasted Bush's foreign policy pronouncements as "bluster" and "machismo," at least one White House wannabe is trying to rev up his own image.
But forget the S-3B Viking.
Senator John Kerry (the guy who some lunch-bucket critics claim is more devoted to height of the surf than the plight of the serfs) used a recent visit to Anamosa, Iowa to hop on a Harley. LINK
But let us be amongst the first to Note that Kerry hasn't always ridden high on the Hog. In 2000, Washington Times scribe John McCaslin wrote about the Massachusetts Senator's penchant for another brand of bike: a Bemer.
"Democratic Sens. Max Baucus of Montana and John Kerry of Massachusetts both own motorcycles, the latter a BMW he refurbished himself. 'Senator Kerry has been into motorcycles for years — he got his first bike in high school,' confirms spokesman David Wade, who relays one important motorcycle lesson Mr. Kerry learned early in life." (9/8/2000)
That may answer the question on the minds of at least a couple of Iowa Democrats, who wonder why Kerry would choose to locate his Hawkeye State campaign headquarters in a building that once housed Dave Ostrem Imports — which specialized in selling The Ultimate Driving Machine, along with Mercedes, Volvos, Jaguars, and other luxury vehicles.
That's more Red State than Red Oak, right Mr. Norris?
Some have gone so far as to suggest that just like dogs resemble their owners, so does the history of Iowa campaign headquarters reflect their current tenants' campaign themes.
John Edwards' small-town populism may have had a hand in choosing former auto parts store Delta Automotive Inc. as the site of its Des Moines digs.
An Internet rock star named Howard chose the former location for The Computer Supply Store to house his band of Deanheads. We'll give you three guesses what they used to sell there.
Dennis Kucinich's office used to be a bank, offering a secure station for his hefty haul (relatively speaking) in the second-quarter money chase.
Dick Gephardt's operation was once Iowa Realty Co., perhaps an homage to the oft-cited milk-truck father who once sold real estate, as The Hill's Open Secrets pointed out. LINK
We still have Googling monkeys working on, as they say on Gilligan's Island, the rest.
And as they say in the real estate business (and in politics): location, location, location.
House of Labor: AFL … are you trying to tell us something?
Anything sound familiar to you folks in Burlington?
Speaking of … .we can tell you that the familiar-sounding Bob Edwards plans to host the AFL-CIO's candidate forum on August 5.
Politics: More from the Democratic-interest-groups-wielding-power front: The Teamsters will withhold cash and organizing support if congressional Democrats don't vote against free trade agreements with Chile and Singapore, AP reports. LINK
"'You are either with us or against us,' [Teamsters President James] Hoffa said Tuesday on Capitol Hill. 'You are either with the American worker or against the American worker. These agreements leave no room in the middle.'"
Borrowing a page from the NAACP playbook, Hoffa said, "'This is a wake up call for both Democrats and Republicans who say they are with labor. … 'Today I tell them, if you want to call yourself a friend of labor, you'd better start acting like a friend of labor.'"
The Clintons of Chappaqua: It simply doesn't matter how many times Senator Clinton states she is not running for president in 2004, Dick Morris refuses to believe her. LINK
From the New York Post 's Hamptons Diary: "Bill Clinton has agreed to serve as honorary chairman of the 8th Annual Ellen's Run to benefit breast cancer support programs and treatment." LINK
Legislative agenda: The pharmaceutical industry has taken its gloves off and started punching hard over the prescription drug bill set to hit the House floor tomorrow, The State's Lauren Markoe reports. LINK
Norm Ornstein tries to sort out the meaning of last week's House Ways & Means "spectacle" in the forthcoming issue of Roll Call . Ornstein finds "culpability and shameless behavior" on both sides of the aisle. But he saves his fiercest diatribe for Chairman Bill Thomas. Key excerpts:
"I actually have had a good and cordial relationship with Bill Thomas … . But he has let his control of the gavel take him way over the line in the arrogance and arrogation of power. His behavior here was just plain stupid."
"To call out the police was rash and counterproductive. To misuse the gavel and declare unanimous consent when it clearly wasn't there was simply outrageous … ."
"It is time for Republican leaders to stage an intervention with Bill Thomas, in the same way friends and family confront an alcoholic. They need his talent, experience and knowledge … . But his disputes with House Democrats and Senate Republicans like Chuck Grassley and Bill Frist could easily lead to self-destruction and a larger problem for the House majority … ."