The Note

Today's Schedule (all times Eastern):

—9:00 am: House convenes for legislative business —9:30 am: Senate convenes for legislative business —9:45 am: Off-camera White House press gaggle —10:00 am: Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan testifies to House Financial Services Committee, Capitol Hill —10:20 am: President Bush meets with Czech Republic Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, White House —10:30 am: Inaugural White House press briefing with Scott McClellan —11:00 am: Representative Dennis Kucinich leads a press conference on Iraq intelligence, Capitol Hill —12:30 pm: Human Rights Campaign presidential candidates forum, D.C. —1:00 pm: Governor Bill Richardson addresses the National Council of La Raza luncheon, Austin, Texas —1:00 pm: Senator Ted Kennedy delivers speech on problems in Iraq, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, D.C. —2:30 pm: OMB Director Josh Bolten delivers briefing on FY 2003 Mid-Session Review, D.C. —4:15 pm: Senator Joe Lieberman holds press availability, Capitol grounds, Richmond, Virginia —6:30 pm: Senator John Edwards holds town hall meeting, Portsmouth, New Hampshire


So many gurgling summer political stories, so few Googling monkeys to deploy to cover them.

As Bill Keller is about to (re-)learn, in the Bush-Cheney-Evans economy, so much of news management involves trying to cover more and more with less and less.

You do the math: start with 1,000 monkeys.

250 are in the Hamptons through September 1.

250 are the bare minimum required to get The Note published.

That leaves 500 to deploy on various assignments.

We've sent 200 to the White House to try to get one into the senior staff and communications meetings throughout the day to try to get glimpses into the reaction to the amazing Dana Priest (GE/WP) and Dana Milbank (adorable/WP) Washington Post story deconstructing all the inconsistencies in the administration's stories over the months about yellowcake.

It's a must-read. LINK

We've dispatched 50 to Capitol Hill to stand in line to hold us seats for the George Tenet hearing tomorrow.

We've sent 75 to stakeout the Lieberman campaign headquarters, to find out the deal with his finance staff quitting, and 25 to chase his kids around, to find out how their salary levels were determined.

That leaves 175 to go to the FEC and wait for second-quarter reports and keep hitting "refresh" on their WiFi-equipped laptops.

And we still have to figure out how many to send to California.

To engage in the kind of zero-sum, who's-up-who's-down analysis that Ari Fleischer so detests, we have to ask: whose hand would you rather hold today? (And we mean in the poker sense, not the Beatles sense … .):

The Democrats, with a David Broder must-read (about the POTUS re-election prospects and "Black Thursday") leading the way on a brutal day of op-eds in the major papers; the Washington Post 's twin devastating stories about how big the federal budget deficit is and how it is hurting people at the local level; Senator Alexander! defecting on the environment; the families of American troops worried about when (and how) their loved ones are coming home; a bit of disarray on Medicare; and, of course, the drumdrumdruming of Iraq intelligence, with the word "impeachment" now being thrown around?

Or, the Republicans, with an immensely popular, well-funded chief executive, whose children aren't on the campaign payroll (far from it), whose core interest groups aren't booing him (quite the contrary), whose campaign advisers can't even make up an answer to the question of which possible general election opponent they fear most (and don't in their hearts think that will change), and whose relentless commitment to lower taxes, faith, family, and freedom is in sync with the American spirit (and could be re-building a Republican electoral college lock)?

Even before you got a look at those eye-popping deficit numbers fronted in his own paper, David Broder wrote for today suggesting the president still has the upper hand, but it ain't as fully upper as it once was.

Bush's reelection may be far from in the bag, says Dean Broder. LINK

Despite strong approval ratings (around 60%) and the fact that two-thirds of those asked in a recent CBS News poll couldn't name the Democrats vying to challenge him next fall, "we may look back on last Thursday, July 10, 2003, as the day the shadow of defeat first crossed his political horizon," Broder writes.

The "credibility gap" of the Bush Administration on Iraq, weapons of mass destruction and claims about them could wind up being its Achilles' heel. Broder describes the slippery slope of public opinion on whether the president and his men (and women) exaggerated evidence of WMD and whether the mission is truly accomplished in Iraq.

"Ominously, the poll found a dramatic reversal in public tolerance of continuing," Broder writes of last week's ABC News- Washington Post poll. Combined with persistent economic issues, Broder sees darkening clouds.

Tucker, Christine, and Trent: you can talk to Mr. Broder about all of this today at 11 am ET: LINK

Also today, President Bush meets with Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla this morning.

Josh Bolten gets to do his first big OMB briefing on the budget on a big day of digits.

Speaking of digits, as we await the final, real FEC second-quarter numbers, the Human Rights Campaign holds its presidential forum today.

The Democratic candidates will appear one-by-one before the lone questioner, ABC News' Sam Donaldson. As of Monday night, Senator Graham had not yet officially confirmed his attendance. Senator Edwards does not plan to attend. The other seven are expected to be there.

The National Council of La Raza annual conference wraps up in Austin, Texas today, featuring a luncheon with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

The Green Party's meetings in D.C. continue.

Senator Edwards will be in Portsmouth, New Hampshire tonight for the latest of his Granite State town hall meetings.

Senator Lieberman campaigns in Richmond, Virginia today, with a press availability later in the afternoon.

Governor Dean is campaigning in D.C. today.

Congressman Kucinich leads a press conference on Iraq intelligence with a former CIA analyst and a former Australian intelligence official this morning on the Hill.

Congressman Gephardt, Senator Kerry, Ambassador Braun, and Reverend Sharpton have no public events scheduled for today besides the HRC forum.

Senator Graham has no public events scheduled for today, although he was on Fox and Friends (We didn't have a chance to turn the audio up to hear what he had to say.).

Today's California recall headlines:

The main organization leading the fight against the recall is set to unveil its legal strategy today. Several California citizens are filing a class action lawsuit claiming all sorts of illegalities in the signature gathering process.

Recall organizers have all but completed their petition work and submitted more than $1.6 million signatures to county election officials yesterday, two days prior to the reporting period deadline.

While promoting Terminator 3 in Berlin, Arnold Schwarzenegger said he is still a month away from deciding whether or not to enter the potential race for governor

Politics of national security:

The New York Times ' Nagourney Notes a "rapid counterattack" by the president's political advisers. LINK

He gets Ron Kaufman to say that "[this] is a legitimate news story today. But it won't be a legitimate political story tomorrow," but while he alludes to GOP worry, there isn't any on the record.

And Ed Gillespie goes with the "the Democrats have nothing to say" defense.

The New York Post 's Deborah Orin took the president's "darn good" comment as a sign of defiance. LINK

"Democrats have escalated their attacks and all but accused Bush of lying, and his poll numbers have dipped. But the president said he's still sure the United States made 'the right decision' in toppling Saddam Hussein because he threatened the world."

On the op-ed page of the New York Post , John Podhoretz concedes that Democrats have found an issue that appears to be sticking and causing some worry at the White House. However, he warns that the attacks on President Bush's credibility should not be overdone. LINK

"The lib/Dem/media folk have managed to plant a seed of doubt in the minds of many American swing voters. If they want to cultivate that seed, they really shouldn't overwater it. That's how they could translate this short-term gain into long-term pain for Bush."

"If they want to use this to their strategic advantage, they will stop calling Bush a liar on the matter of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. You really have to be a little crazy to think Bush didn't genuinely believe Saddam was a threat to world peace because of his WMD. Maybe his conviction led him to believe things that turned out to be fraudulent, but that would mean he misled himself. And if he misled himself, then by definition he wasn't lying."

See ya 'round, Ari.

The Washington Post 's Dana Milbank writes of White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer's last day: "Instead of a soft and affectionate farewell from the White House press corps, he received an extended hammering yesterday afternoon on why President Bush's State of the Union address contained an allegation against Iraq based on bogus intelligence." LINK

Senator Bob Graham mused about the prospect of an impeachment inquiry if Democrats controlled Congress. LINK

Senator Kennedy plans to hit the president's Iraq policy hard today for his allegedly "go-it-alone" foreign policy, while the North Korea story keeps building.

Three subjects for Bill O'Reilly's "Memo":

Paul Krugman calls the whole thing a "pattern of corruption." LINK

"[T]hose who politicized intelligence in order to lead us into war, at the expense of national security, hope to cover their tracks by corrupting the system even further."

The Times ' Nick Kristof says a "senior White House official chided me gently and explained that there was more to the story that I didn't know" after he wrote about uranium and Niger a month ago. LINK

"Based on conversations with people in the intelligence community, this picture is emerging: the White House, eager to spice up the State of the Union address, recklessly resurrected the discredited Niger tidbit. The Central Intelligence Agency objected, and then it and the National Security Council negotiated a new wording, attributing it all to the Brits. It felt less dishonest pinning the falsehood on the cousins."

"What troubles me is not that single episode, but the broader pattern of dishonesty and delusion that helped get us into the Iraq mess — and that created the false expectations undermining our occupation today. Some in the administration are trying to make George Tenet the scapegoat for the affair. But Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of retired spooks, issued an open letter to President Bush yesterday reflecting the view of many in the intel community that the central culprit is Vice President Dick Cheney. The open letter called for Mr. Cheney's resignation."

And on the Op-Ed page of the Los Angeles Times, Robert Scheer writes the administration's use of questionable evidence to bolster its case to go to war is grounds for impeachment. LINK

Big Casino budget politics: "It's shock and awe," a senior Republican Senate aide with no sense of originality told the Washington Post 's Jonathan Weisman about the projected federal budget deficit — a staggering $450 billion this fiscal year. LINK

The projection expected today is $50 billion higher than economists expected. "That represents a fiscal reversal exceeding $680 billion," Weisman writes, and also Notes that the deficit — larger than the entire military budget — is the largest in terms of dollars on record, beating the $290 billion deficit recorded in 1992.

The deficit is not, however, as astute budget-analyzing reporters Note (and the White House contends — over and over), as large a percentage of the gross domestic product as it was during the Reagan era.

But Democratic aides on the Senate Budget Committee told Weisman that more than $150 billion in Social Security taxes are and offsetting the estimate. Take out the lockbox and the deficit becomes 5.6 percent of the GDP (in the Reagan range) from this estimate's 4.2 percent.

That's the first time we have seen that reported and that is blockbuster stuff.

The Los Angeles Times' Peter Gosselin quotes sources saying that the cost of policing post-war Iraq, estimated last week by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as about $3.9 billion monthly, may drive the number even higher. LINK

The soggy economy has helped to shrink federal tax revenues for three straight years — the longest streak since the Great Depression, Gosselin reports.

"The Concord Coalition, an independent fiscal watchdog group, said Monday that the last six months of federal budget-making were 'the most fiscally irresponsible in recent memory' as the White House and Congress engaged in 'a schizophrenic pursuit of small government tax policies and big government spending initiatives.'"

AP's Alan Fram gets members of Congress to weigh in. LINK

"'There's no way OMB can make the budget a pretty picture,' South Carolina Rep. John Spratt, top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, told reporters on Monday."

"'I think the economy can handle it,' Senate Budget Committee Chairman Don Nickles, R-Okla., said in a brief interview," Fram writes. "'I think it's higher than I'd like it to be.'"

The Wall Street Journal 's John McKinnon brought a Republican memo that blamed Congress (read: congressional Democrats) into the act.

"The Republican talking points that were prepared to address Tuesday's release contend that deficits continue to be driven primarily by congressional spending and not by Mr. Bush's big tax cuts. The memo, a likely preview of 2004 campaign rhetoric, also said the economy would be in even worse shape if the administration hadn't acted. 'With the tax cuts, private forecasters are now expecting a return to higher [gross domestic product] growth, increased jobs, and lower unemployment over the next year and a half,' the memo said. 'Without the tax cuts, job losses would continue.'"

The Washington Post 's Dale Russakoff adds another element to the mix, detailing the effects of the budget deficit on states and localities. LINK

USA Today fronts the fact that "needy" state and local governments are raising taxes ton rental cars, hotels, and other goods and services that are hitting the travel class. LINK

Deficit news aside, the Wall Street Journal 's Richard Breeden reports on a survey of small and mid-size business CEOs who say they expect the economy to get better over the next year — and 80% said it would be the most important issue in the presidential race.

The Washington Times ' Chris Baker and Anna Bakalis continued the rosy outlook, reporting that "Investors are smiling for the first time in years when opening their financial statements this month, thanks to the best stock market performance since 1999." LINK

House Republicans got their Medicare drug benefit through, but they didn't pacify conservatives who may yet put up a fight, the Washington Post 's Juliet Eilperin reports. LINK

Some Republicans are openly wondering whether their party gave away the farm on Medicare in order to gain an edge on a traditionally Democratic issue, Eilperin writes. And the ripples could affect not only the conference to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the legislation but also cause cracks in the Republican alliance and impact negotiations over other programs.

It's the first story we've read that makes us think that maybe this conference will be tough …

"'They're spending all this money and accomplishing very little for spending all that money,' said John C. Goodman, president of the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis.

Eilperin cites comments by "an administration official who asked not to be identified," saying the president won over many conservatives because he promised talks would pass "ideological muster."

But, Goodman responded, "The administration dropped the ball on this," he said. "When this bill is signed we will have doubled the size of the Social Security problem. That's a disappointment."

The Hill's Geoff Earle writes up the recent rift between Senators Grassley and Santorum over the Medicare legislation. LINK

"The conflict occurred during consideration of the Medicare prescription drug bill in late June, when Grassley worked with Specter, Senator Jon Corzine (D-N.J.) and Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to protect existing state prescription drug programs in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York."


"But, having negotiated extensively with Specter, Grassley said he did not talk to Santorum about the amendment."

"'Senator Grassley agreed to accept that amendment, and did not inform me of that fact,' said Santorum. Asked how he then responded, Santorum said, 'We had a conversation.'"

The AP's Mary Dalrymple reports on our favorite topic, "An obscure tax intended to prevent wealthy individuals from dodging their income taxes will hit one-third of taxpayers by the end of the decade, private researchers say." LINK

The economy:

Reuters' Caren Bohan reports, "Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan was set on Tuesday to sketch out his outlook for the U.S. economy as Wall Street braces for possible hints that short-term interest rates will remain low for a while." LINK

Bohan Notes: "Economists said Greenspan will walk a fine line in his testimony, acknowledging the disappointing data recently but remaining hopeful of better times ahead."

ABC 2004: The Invisible Primary:

USA Today 's Jim Drinkard and Jill Lawrence write about grassroots impact of that Internet thing. LINK

Soaking in the sights (and Web sites) of a Dean campaign gathering via in Virginia, Drinkard and Lawrence report that "Dean, the maverick former governor of Vermont, is rewriting the playbook on how to organize, finance and mold a presidential campaign. The money and manpower coming his way online are forcing his Democratic competitors to rethink how they use the Internet."

" … Dean is taking existing techniques to a new level and going even further. With his blessing, thousands of fans are chatting with each other online, setting up their own real-world meetings and campaign activities, and e-mailing suggestions on everything from slogans to strategy. More than a few are adopted."

"By normal campaign standards, it's anarchy. But it's working … ."

More: " … [C]onventional candidates might not build excitement in the same way as a McCain, Ventura or Dean. Recent meetups for Bush, Edwards and Missouri Rep. Richard Gephardt flopped for lack of interest. Carol Darr, a political scientist at George Washington University, says a study found 294 Internet political chat rooms about Dean, five times more than the other candidates combined."

Betsy Rothstein reports for the Hill on the make-or-break litmus test for the Democratic presidential candidates: what food they like. Kerry is apparently a fan of chocolate chip cookies, while Bob Graham's food of choice is Angus beef. Sharpton purportedly likes chicken quite a bit, and Edwards is said to like North Carolina barbeque (as opposed to Bush's Texas barbeque affinity). Kucinich, on the other hand, is a vegan. (We may need to rethink that whole dinner party idea.) Bucking a trend, Carol Moseley Braun's "food choice isn't even a food. It's apple juice." LINK


The news that Lieberman finance director Shari Yost stepped down raises some questions:

(a) — the timing — high-profile resignations on the EVE of FEC disclosure day are bound to get us reporters to pay even more attention to the Lieberman disbursements. Just how much did Yost and her deputies cost the campaign? What percentage of the burn rate can be attributed to finance staff salaries? Where's all the money going? How much is being spent on polling? Travel? Candidate care and feeding? Expensive vendors? Jano's joke writers? (KIDDING!)

(b) — does this bode ill for future Lieberman fundraising efforts? At least morale-ly?

(c) — "[c]ampaign director" Craig Smith really isn't a "campaign manager," or, at least, isn't really running things all the time, according to Dan Balz' sources. Why is this the case?

"The disruption in the campaign finance department could put Lieberman at a fresh disadvantage in the fundraising competition at a crucial point in the campaign, and Democratic sources said the disputes that led to the shake-up reflected broader management problems of the Lieberman operation. Nobody's been running [Lieberman's] campaign,' said one Democratic source." LINK

"Lieberman has neither a campaign chairman nor a designated campaign manager. Smith has operated as the day-to-day manager but Democrats familiar with the campaign said he has not always enjoyed clear lines of authority, although one said he may emerge with more power as a result of the changes yesterday."

Balz also uniquely has this: "Several sources said there have been complaints that two of the candidate's children, who have been working full-time in behalf of their father, were being paid six-figure salaries. One source said yesterday that those salaries will be reduced by 20 percent. A campaign official said it is not unusual for the children of candidates to be on the campaign payroll."

The Boston Globe 's Glen Johnson reports: "The fate of [Yost's] deputy, Jennifer Yocham, had not been settled, said campaign director Craig T. Smith." LINK

More Balz: "Despite a personal plea from the candidate over the weekend … .Yost stepped down from her position yesterday, and Democratic sources said her deputy, Jennifer Yocham, also intends to resign her post and that several mid-level staffers could follow them."

Let's name this thing … . Jano's Headache?

We prefer Lightman's Dilemma (with a Brokawsian pronunciation) , in that the fundraising story gave one of America's best political reporters a humdinger of a conundrum: spend more time writing up the NAACP's rebuke — arguably a more substantive political story — or try to get to the bottom of an authentic intra-campaign spat over money and direction.

Fortunately for us, Mr. Lightman did both.

"'The campaign has to curb its expenses, and 'Craig Smith and Shari Yost each had a different vision of how to do that,' said Cabrera." LINK

"Smith's vision included what campaign officials called 'tightening' Yost's salary. The first-quarter Federal Election Commission report showed her earning in the neighborhood of $200,000 a year."

"Smith was also said to be dissatisfied with Yost's overly traditional ways of raising money. He wanted more of a push from the Internet, where former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean got notice — and lots of cash — this quarter."

"As a result, the campaign Monday, on the eve of the release of its second-quarter fund-raising report, brought on Mike Liddell to supervise Internet fund-raising. It also replaced Yost with Tracy Sturman, a veteran California fund-raiser who worked for Vice President Al Gore's political committee. Elliot Gerson, the campaign's policy director, will become finance chairman."

Here's the AP's quick take: LINK


Let us bring up an angle that is barely covered in the otherwise excellent articles on yesterday's NAACP convention and the no-shows.

Does any Democratic interest group have a "right" (yes, yes, we're putting on our green eye shade as we write this) to demand that presidential candidates drop what they're doing and appear?

Isn't this EXACTLY why it may be functionally appropriate for some campaigns to try and avoid check-mark appearances together?

Centrists and others may question whether the NAACP's liberal legislative agenda is currently synonymous with the political priorities of all African Americans.

By the same … token … excuses like "We went to the Rainbow/PUSH coalition forum" leave a bitter taste, too, as if the candidates were to say, "We've been before one black group, so we've taken care of that interest group." And the NAACP's clout and historical influence are undeniable.

It IS remarkable that Donna Brazile would criticize her two favorite Democratic presidentials — Lieberman and Gephardt — on the record. (See below).

We're not taking sides in any of this, but a not-unreasonable answer to Mr. Mfume (somewhat obliquely phrased) can be found in a statement put out by Cleveland's own.

"Congressman Kucinich has the utmost respect for the NAACP, its leadership, its members and its mission," spokesman Jeff Cohen said in a statement.

"He regrets his absence from this afternoon's candidates' forum. His duties as a member of the United States House of Representatives required that he be in Washington today for votes. Important votes are scheduled on Medicare prescription drugs and agricultural spending. Congressman Kucinich strongly believes that it is wrong to campaign across the country on the issue of expanding healthcare coverage and then miss one of the most important healthcare votes in years."

That doesn't sound terribly unfair to us. The guy was doing his job.

And "Erik Smith, a spokesman for Mr. Gephardt, said that he, too, attended last month's Rainbow/PUSH conference but could not take part in the N.A.A.C.P. forum because of an 'unavoidable family obligation,'" the New York Times reports. LINK

Senator Lieberman had a fundraising commitment. (See below and further below).

"All three candidates are rated highly in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's annual report cards, which are based on the lawmakers' votes with regard to issues deemed important by the nonpartisan civil rights group," the Washington Times ' Miller Notes. LINK

Bowing before the organization's Pooh-Bahs confers true legitimacy; voting records don't, we guess.

"Four empty chairs and blazing rhetoric at an NAACP presidential candidates forum Monday laid bare the civil rights group's anger at being spurned by President Bush and three Democrats. Those four now have no right to ask for black votes in the 2004 election, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume said," reports USA Today 's Jill Lawrence. LINK

Lawrence Notes that Senator Edwards "had planned to visit the NAACP convention the day after the presidential forum, in keeping with his pattern of trying to appear on his own rather than onstage with all his rivals. But the NAACP insisted no other time would work, so Edwards went to the forum."

"While the absentee candidates provided for an afternoon of theatrics, with speakers repeatedly referring to the empty chairs, the spectacle also provided an example of how difficult it can be to please the entire Democratic base," the Tribune's Jeff Zeleny reports. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Gary Witherspoon reports, "Many convention-goers said the would-be presidents scored points just by showing up … ." LINK

Witherspoon Notes: "The candidates who attended all tried to portray themselves as a friend of the common man. The NAACP wields considerable political clout. It says it registered 2 million voters for the 2000 presidential election and represents a population that has contributed 10 percent of the electorate in the last two races for the nation's top office."

But "'Anybody who comes into a convention and says 'I like black people' — I don't think that's going to work anymore,' said NAACP member Stanley Thornton of Miami." LINK

Mark Z. Barabak and John-Thor Dahlburg of the Los Angeles Times write that "While Mfume directed his criticism at the three absentee Democrats, his sentiments reflected a larger sense among some black leaders that the concerns of African Americans — for decades perhaps the most loyal Democratic constituency — are being ignored by party leaders." LINK

"'There is a perception out there that Democrats are taking African Americans for granted,' Donna Brazile, manager of Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign and a veteran organizer in the black community, said Monday."

"Gephardt, Lieberman and Kucinich could have helped dispel that notion by attending Monday's forum, said Brazile, who termed the NAACP the nation's most active and respected civil rights organization. 'They made a huge mistake — and it will come back to haunt them,' she said."

We wonder if Ms. Brazile shared her thoughts directly with Senator Lieberman?

And how do Lieberman and Gephardt feel about Edwards basically double crossing them, and does this abrogate the Gang of Four deal?

The AP's Nedra Pickler writes, "The party is off to a somewhat rocky start with minorities in this election cycle. Black leaders were furious when the Democratic National Committee planned to layoff 10 staffers — all black — this spring. The DNC backed off that plan and has been working with the Congressional Black Caucus to ease tensions." LINK

"During Monday's forum, candidate Al Sharpton compared the Democratic Party to the late Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox, a segregationist who during the 1960s would take up an ax handle to chase blacks from his fried chicken restaurant."

More: "Some disaffected Democrats have flocked to the candidacy of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who expresses some of the same frustrations. He drew applause during the NAACP forum by criticizing Democrats for supporting Bush's war with Iraq, his tax cuts and his education plan."

But we wonder whether Dr. Dean has yet to register in polls of black voters.

As for Lieberman, the boos are rather consequential.

From David Lightman: "'His record,' said [Lieberman spokesman Jano] Cabrera of Lieberman, 'dating back to the 1960s when he marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and personally fought for the rights of African Americans to vote in Mississippi, is as strong as anyone's.'"

"That won't be enough, said David Bositis, senior political analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which conducts research on politics in the African American community." LINK

"'Bringing up Dr. King is no kind of ace. It wasn't like Lieberman was one of King's aides,' said Bositis."

"All this comes on the heels of last week's hourlong session between Lieberman and the black caucus in Washington that ended with Rep. Albert Wynn, D-Md., saying 'basically, people were laughing at him.'"

"In the hall, a friendly Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democratic District of Columbia delegate to Congress, also warned Lieberman to 'be very careful with affirmative action. They remember,' she said last week, referring to what many term an inconsistent record on the subject."

"The incidents could sting Lieberman, who is counting on African American votes in key primary and caucus states," Lightman concludes.

"Unlike most of his major rivals for the Democratic nomination, Lieberman is operating with a history some black leaders see as tarnished. For years, they have been wary of the Democratic Leadership Council, the centrist group Lieberman headed for five years," he adds.

The Boston Herald's Andrew Miga reports that Senator Kerry "narrowly avoided sharp criticism from key black leaders yesterday when he made a last-minute decision to participate in the NAACP's presidential forum." LINK

Attendance at the NAACP convention was not the only issue that came out of yesterday's forum. John Wagner reports for the Raleigh News & Observer that yesterday's NAACP forum revealed just how divisive the issue of Iraq can be for the Democratic candidates, with the hopefuls going back and forth on whether their votes on military action were justified. LINK


The AP's Malia Rulon reports that Congressman Kucinich "said Monday that his campaign had raised $1.54 million during a three-month period, mostly from small Internet donations." LINK

"After spending about $527,000 from April to June, Kucinich has about $1.06 million on hand for his White House bid."

From a statement: "Of the $1.54 million raised in the quarter, roughly half was raised in the last two weeks, reflecting the campaign's growing momentum and a topnotch Internet operation that will keep raising money in small donations from Kucinich's growing number of passionate supporters. More than a million dollars or 2/3 of the total raised this quarter were from credit card donations through the Internet; the average donation for the quarter was $77."

Not bad at all.


On the eve of the Human Rights Campaign presidential forum, Andrew Sullivan accuses John Kerry of being a heterosexual supremacist:

"John Kerry, like Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, opposes equality for gay citizens in the most fundamental matter related to emotional and sexual orientation. But, like the Clintons, he offers no argument. Give the far right their due: they really have tried to come up with an infinite array of reasons to oppose civil equality in this respect." LINK

"But this is what Kerry said: 'Marriage is an institution between men and women for the purpose of having children and procreating.'"

"Now, Kerry is in a second marriage to a woman also in a second marriage, with no apparent connection to the goal of reproduction or child-rearing. Like Pat Buchanan, he lives a marriage that is childless … ..It seems to me that Kerry has just argued that he himself should have no right to marry. (I'll leave the speciousness of the Clintons' defense of marital privilege to your judgment, but it would be hard to find a deeper example of hypocrisy than their joint defense of traditional marriage.) But his real reason is deeper. It could easily be construed as a statement like: 'I am heterosexual, and heterosexuals deserve special rights that privilege them unrelated to any actual roles or acts that they might perform.' Kerry is asserting — frankly, crudely, unmistakably — heterosexual supremacy. Just because. I find this far more objectionable than those on the religious right who at least have some theological or strained sociological reasons for opposition."

New York magazine takes a quick look at Chris Heinz, stepson of one John Kerry-cum-ketchup empire heir, and how he's helping the Senator from Massachusetts in his bid for the presidency. LINK

"Like any smart and rich venture-capitalist kid, he hit up his equally rich friends (like Yale buddy Bronson Van Wyck and cosmetics heir William Lauder) to help raise $2 million in New York so far. And Liev Schreiber and Charles Rockefeller will likely appear at Kerry's next benefit on July 16 at Beacon restaurant. But Heinz isn't always comfortable soliciting donations. 'It's awkward to ask young people when the economy sucks,' he says-though he may just end up raising money for his own campaign one day: 'This is a test for my ability to stomach it.'"


The San Antonio Express-News' Rebeca Rodriguez reports, "Speaking in smooth Spanish and fiery English, Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean said [at the La Raza conference in Austin, Texas] he is the person to lead the nation to a better economy, improved education, universal health care and real immigration reform." LINK

The Dallas Morning News' Grommer Jeffers Jr. writes that Governor Dean "asked a group of Hispanics on Monday to resist the urge to be like George — even if the formula has been a surefire way to get elected in Texas." LINK


The AP's Jim Salter reports, "For the second time this year, St. Louis Democratic congressmen Dick Gephardt and William Lacy Clay are urging President Bush to re-nominate Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronnie L. White to the federal bench … ." LINK

"The effort comes on the same day NAACP President Kweisi Mfume criticized Gephardt[, Lieberman and Kucinich] for skipping the group's presidential forum in Miami Beach, Fla. Mfume said the three have become 'persona non grata' among black voters."


"Democratic presidential candidate Bob Graham, in sharply criticizing President Bush's veracity about Iraq's weapons programs, got a bit confused about the number of letters in the word 'deceit,'" the AP's Ken Thomas reports. LINK

"Graham, who participated in a candidate's forum at the NAACP convention, was asked if the president lied to the American people when he said in his State of the Union address that Iraq had been trying to buy uranium in Africa to develop nuclear weapons — a claim the White House has acknowledged should not have been included."

"'I would not use the three-letter word,' the Florida senator told reporters. 'I would use the five-letter word: deceit. That he deceived the American people by allowing into a State of the Union speech at a critical point when he was making the case for war with Iraq, a statement that he either knew was wrong or should have known was wrong.'"

A St. Pete Times look at Graham's personal wealth ends up in the Manchester Union Leader. LINK


The Greenville News' Paul Alongi reports that Elizabeth Edwards "took several swipes" at President Bush during a campaign visit on Monday. LINK

Mrs. Edwards "painted Bush as too rich and powerful to be in touch with ordinary Americans. She portrayed her husband as a family man and the son of textile mill workers who fights for the little guy."

South Carolina:

The State's Lee Bandy reports, "In a complete overhaul of the state party headquarters, South Carolina Democratic chairman Joe Erwin announced Monday he has hired a new leadership team to oversee the daily operations of the party and to prepare it for the first-in-the-South Democratic presidential primary next year." LINK

ABC 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect:

The Wall Street Journal ed boards suggests that the steel tariffs could "b-o-o-m-e-r-a-n-g" at Karl Rove due to European relaliation.

Politics: The accusations are flying again: Alexander Bolton of the Hill reports that Democrats in Congress are frustrated with an allegedly conservative bias in the media that is apparently letting Bush and his party to get off easy. LINK

"'Their frustration is so deep that they attack the media,' [Marvin] Kalb said, adding: 'There's a genuine feeling on the part of many critics that the media went wild with Clinton and Lewinsky and the Clinton exit and the pardons and a whole range of other factors and that they're giving Bush a free pass. There's some merit to that.'"

Mayor Bloomberg yesterday defended his cri du coeur for non-partisan elections. LINK

The Associated Press reports that "Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson urged his nationwide audience Monday to pray for God to remove three justices from the Supreme Court so they could be replaced by conservatives." LINK

"Gerald Ford turned 90 on Monday and said he hopes to be remembered for restoring honesty and integrity to the American presidency," reports the Associated Press. LINK

"Nevada's roller coaster budget crisis now looks likely to throw a major loop in the reelection plans of the Senate's Democratic whip, Harry Reid," writes the Boston Globe 's Steve Friess. LINK

California recall:

As advertised, the California recall battle is headed for court. The largely union-backed group fighting the recall will announce today the filing of a class action lawsuit challenging the legality of the way in which signatures were collected. The primary complaint is that recall organizers hired out of state petition circulators who by law must be registered voters in California in order to gather signatures.

Almost all of today's recall stories write up the planned legal action by Governor Davis' supporters. We start with Robert Salladay of the San Francisco Chronicle. LINK

"Legal experts, however, said the courts have been unwilling in the past to punish voters for the sins of paid circulators. Even if some worked illegally, the law is 'very protective of direct-democracy tools' such as recall petitions, said Rick Hasen, an election law expert and professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles."

"'If the purpose is to delay, it could well serve the purpose. If the purpose is to sully the reputation of the signature gatherers, it may succeed at that as well,' Hasen said. 'But on the legal question of whether or not problems with the circulators are somehow going to derail the recall effort, I am skeptical.'"

The New York Times ' John Broder got one of the attorneys involved in the case on the phone. LINK

"'We have definite evidence that these petitions were circulated by out-of-state bounty hunters who were paid $1 per signature and who were neither California voters nor residents, as the law requires,' said Paul R. Kiesel of the Beverly Hills law firm Kiesel, Boucher & Larson. 'We have evidence that their bus fare and motel rooms were paid for with full knowledge that they were not authorized to participate in this effort.'"

Michael Finneagn also spoke with an attorney. These lawyers have knack for being on message. LINK

"The class-action lawsuit would seek an injunction to force county election officers to confirm that legally qualified petition circulators had collected the signatures properly, committee lawyers said."

"One of the lawyers, Wylie Aitken of Santa Ana, said recall supporters had hauled out-of-state 'bounty hunters' into California by the busload to circulate petitions at a rate of $1 per signature. He called them 'paid mercenaries' and 'petition vigilantes' who were not California residents. Some, he said, listed motels as their local residences."

"'We have every reason to believe that this assault on the integrity of the process is clearly only the tip of the iceberg,' Aitken said."

In the Associated Press write up of the imminent lawsuit, Erica Werner places today's filing of the lawsuit in context. LINK

"The development came on the same day organizers of the recall drive turned in their last batch of petitions, saying they had collected 1.6 million signatures to get a recall on the ballot — almost double what they needed. Counties still must verify the signatures as valid."

"Chris Wysocki, a spokesman for Rescue California Recall Gray Davis, said the signatures were carefully monitored and predicted any lawsuit challenging the recall would quickly be tossed out. "

"'We had to make sure that we played this strictly by the numbers and by the book and we did everything possible,' Wysocki added. 'A signature-gatherer did not get paid unless they were a registered voter.'"

Mitchell Landsberg of The Los Angeles Times writes up the overall mood falling over the Golden State. LINK

"The sorrowful litany seems to grow by the day: State government is practically in default. The governor faces a recall. Southern California smog is back at levels not seen for years. Schools face budget cuts. College fees are climbing. A national literacy survey finds Los Angeles to be the intellectual peer of Toledo, Ohio. The state's economy is queasy. And L.A. Laker Kobe Bryant is under arrest."

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Gray Davis has company at the low end of public opinion polls. According to the latest poll, Californians look less favorably upon the state legislature than they do on the governor. LINK

Helen Kennedy reports in the New York Daily News that Arnold Schwarzenegger, on a movie tour in Berlin, announced that he will decide whether he's running or not within the next month. Then Ms. Kennedy boldly asserts that this Schwarzenegger fella apparently has high name recognition. LINK

Jesse Ventura on Arnold Schwarzenegger: LINK

"'I think he's going to run,' he said. 'Arnold is a very calculating person, both personally and professionally. He's done everything he can in movies.'"

"But Ventura said he is appalled by the way his friend might get on the ballot. He said he opposes the notion of voters recalling Gov. Gray Davis, which can be done in California with enough signatures."

"'They may disagree with his opinion, they may think he's made some stupid decisions, but they were stupid enough to elect him in the first place,' Ventura said. 'If it happens, it's going to undermine every election at every level in California. I'm glad we don't have that in Minnesota.'"

The Clintons of Chappaqua:

The press (broadly defined) will believe anything about, and report anything about, Bill Clinton.

Why this is should be the subject of several doctoral theses (and WILL be the subtext of John Harris' widely-anticipated book about Clinton), but that isn't our brief today.

Rather, more micro-ly, we simply want to run a clarification of sorts of something we foolishly ran yesterday, based on those dreaded media "reports."

We received this e-mail from Clinton spokesman Jim Kennedy (who, to our knowledge, has never made us much as Shari Yost in one year):

"The story about President Clinton buying a condo in Ireland is one of those Urban Clinton Legends that surround us from time to time. Makes for a good tale — one that CNN ran on its ticker (for at least five hours after we told them the truth; they even had a "virtual tour" of the condo on their web site!), and the weekend Today show ran a story on Saturday."

"No one domestically, to my knowledge, ran the real news from his time overseas — the announcement in Ireland with the Taoiseach that the Republic of Ireland was going to be committing up to 110 million Euros to the work of our Foundation's HIV/AIDS Initiative, focusing on treatment in Mozambique."

"But I guess a true story about treating people with AIDS is just not as newsworthy as a false story about buying a condo!"

"Anyway, he hasn't bought a home in Ireland and isn't planning to. But he is planning on doing more to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean, thanks in part to the generosity of the Irish. Here's a link to the real story:" LINK


President Clinton will be traveling to South Africa this weekend, delivering the inaugural lecture in the Nelson Mandela lecture series in Johannesburg during the day Saturday, and attending the birthday gala celebration for Nelson Mandela that evening.

With what we wrote above in mind … For the political junkie who has everything, an early Christmas Present from California-based doll maker Talking Presidents: the Bill Clinton action figure. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Yvonne Abraham writes, "The Hillary Rodham Clinton publicity whirlwind blew through Harvard Square yesterday, and an efficient, well-orchestrated, even presidential-caliber operation it was." LINK

"Some order was in order, given that Clinton devotees had begun lining up outside the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square as early as 6 a.m., hoping for a special moment with her during a visit to promote her new memoir, 'Living History.'"

"By noon, when Clinton was scheduled to appear, a large ballroom at the hotel was crammed with eager men and women, and hundreds more stood in a queue downstairs that snaked through the hotel's courtyard and down a brick alleyway, almost all the way to the Charles River."


Welcome, Mr. Keller. LINK

In a story that Lloyd himself will tell you tell was broken right here in The Note, it's now semi-official: the Washington Post 's "Reliable Source," Lloyd Grove, is making tracks for the New York Daily News.

Lloyd told his Post bosses yesterday and the Mort jokes have already begun, as has the speculation about where Lloyd will live, what page he will run on, how many days a week he'll appear, what it all means for Rush and Molloy, and who Lloyd's Post successor will be.

While the Washingtonian speculates sillily about a bunch of names, we say, why not the woman no longer called "the other Ms. Schroeder"? LINK