If you don't have a professional or financial stake in the now-raging debate about media bias (say, Eric Alterman's tuition fund, or Bernie Goldberg's summer share), you can't help but believe that the standard of conduct and coverage to which Bill Clinton was held was too high, and the one for George W. Bush is too low.
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We don't know where the bar SHOULD be placed by the political and White House press corps to hold each and every president (and candidate) accountable to the public interest, but we DO know it belongs somewhere between Point B(ush) and Point C(linton).
For the first time in The Note's career, Democrats have joined Republicans in the belief that the press is systematically biased against them, and agitate everyday to try to change things (or work around their media enemies).
The Bush White House tends to leave any griping about press bias to surrogates, while in public, led by Ari Fleischer, they adopt a faux "the press will do its job/we'll do ours" posture.
But put an enterprising reporter in a "hallway close to..(a) meeting room and near what appeared to be a kitchen storage area" while Karl Rove is doing one of his opening-act speeches-for-bundlers (paving the way for a POTUS event), and the de facto campaign manager of Bush-Cheney '00 and Bush-Cheney '04 gives off a different vibe.
The Dallas Morning News' Gromer Jeffers stood outside Karl Rove's CLOSED PRESS briefing in Fort Worth yesterday, and through the capacity of sound to travel through and around closed doors, got the sense from the president's political adviser that there is still a perception of bias extant at 1600 (maybe it's pro-underdog bias, in this case, though … ): LINK "Even with the president's popularity, Mr. Rove said, the race will be tough. Early surveys indicate Mr. Bush getting support from less than 50 percent of the public in a matchup with a generic Democratic nominee."
"For starters, Mr. Rove said, the Democratic nominee would become a media darling with The Washington Post , New York Times and political writers."
"'He will be a hero on the evening newscasts,' Mr. Rove said. 'He will be at or ahead of us in the polls.'"
(Mr. Jeffers work is a must-read.)
In a world without Ann Devroy LINK
or an independent counsel law, no president is going to face the kind of relentless you-can-do-no-right scrutiny that Bill Clinton had slapping him in the face every day (and/but we all know he brought some of it on himself too).
But when the New York Times White House reporter leaves Seoul to go (figuratively?) to London to (implicitly) write about how the White House press corps isn't subjecting Bush to high enough scrutiny, well, The Note gets a big laugh out of it.
Writing under a "London" dateline and keying off of all the pressure Tony Blair is feeling over the pre-war justifications of taking out Saddam Hussein, the New York Times ' Sanger and Hoge write powerfully and with a bit of Pogo LINK
about why President Bush isn't facing the same heat that Blair is facing, or that Bill Clinton surely would have faced with the shoe on the other foot: LINK
"In contrast, President Bush has largely brushed off questions about the intelligence as the work of 'revisionist historians.' His Republican allies, unlike Mr. Blair's divided Labor Party, have kept Congressional hearings behind closed doors."
"Mr. Bush's protective press aides have been successful at shielding him from many questions on the subject, but even when reporters had brief access to the president — on Tuesday at Camp David, today at the White House — they asked about other subjects. 'That would be unimaginable in London, at least in this environment,' a British diplomat said here today."
"Mr. Bush's political aides say that while the issue of potentially tailored intelligence has not gone away, they are more worried about the possible political impact of continuing casualties in occupied Iraq. Within Mr. Bush's foreign policy team, officials say they are more worried about Mr. Blair than about their own boss … ."
"On Thursday, Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, is expected to describe Mr. Bush's vision of the American-British agenda in the aftermath of Iraq — at a speech in London."
"Whether Ms. Rice and others will ever face the kind of questioning that has emerged in London is unclear. Democrats on this side of the Atlantic are now making more pointed charges and raising more specific questions."
"Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who voted in favor of the resolution authorizing Mr. Bush to go to war if necessary, declared last week that the president 'misled every one of us,' though he later said he was referring to two specific pieces of intelligence. This morning, Howard Dean, another aspirant for the Democratic presidential nomination, who opposed the war, told a foreign policy forum here that the question was coming down to 'what did the president know and when did he know it.'"
"But on Capitol Hill, such charges do not appear to be resonating very loudly."
The story does not make clear how Mr. Sanger and Mr. Hoge calibrate "resonance."
Oh, and what would the Republican Congress had done if the shoe were on the other foot on this Doug Jehl's New York Times front-page lead?
"The State Department's intelligence division is disputing the Central Intelligence Agency's conclusion that mysterious trailers found in Iraq were for making biological weapons, United States government officials said today … ." LINK
"The report on the trailers was initially prepared for the White House, and Mr. Bush has cited it as proof that Iraq indeed had a biological weapons program, as the United States has repeatedly alleged, although it has yet to produce any other conclusive evidence."
The AP's Ken Guggenheim writes, "The early stages of a House Intelligence Committee's review of prewar intelligence on Iraq has found that the administration ignored doubts about Iraq's chemical and biological weapons capability, the panel's top Democrat said." LINK Our guess is that the panel's top Republican would disagree.
The Washington Post 's VandeHei and Eilperin write up the nuts and bolts of the K Street Project (in which Republicans are systematically filling every lobbying job in DC with a party loyalist) in a style that could earn them PhDs in political science (or, perhaps more accurately, anthropology). LINK Presumably, at some point, these two will turn their attention to the extent to which special access and favors are granted to GOP lobbyists in ways that would make Mark Middleton blush — one of the three most inexplicably uncovered stories of the 43 era.
Meanwhile, business executives "seek" to restore AmeriCorps funding, while the White House continues to play its "hide" role, for no apparent reason. LINK
Those execs also took out a full-page ad in the New York Times .
The examples keep coming … ..(And, no, Craig Shirley, you don't need to remind us of the easily documented liberal bias that allows Democrats to get major breaks in the dominant media in all sorts of cases … )
Now, apparently, all it takes to get David Firestone to write a New York Times story about the child tax credit is for Leaders Daschle and Pelosi to write the president a letter. LINK Again: imagine if Bill Clinton said he was for a program, but didn't move to restore the funding.
So, beyond all this, there is the ONE issue from which no incumbent president can run and hide: the economy.
ABC News' Schindelheim reports that "the government this morning said the economy grew at a slower pace in the first quarter than it previously reported.
The revised GDP for the first three months was 1.4%. This is a bit of a surprise. Economists expected that the number would stay at 1.9%, the May estimate. he government revises the number based on additional data. One of the reasons for the downward revision was that the actual numbers show that businesses spent less than first estimated on investments."
Beyond the staffs of the Democratic Hill leadership, the cooler, smarter heads in the Democratic party all believe that it will take a strong presidential nominee to make any of this stick, and amidst their growing fundraising freakouts (Ah, the pressure!!), the candidates have (mostly) headed out to see who can become the reigning Wizard of Westwood.
Tonight, live from the UCLA campus in Southern California, the California League of Conservation Voters and its national parent organization, the League of Conservation Voters, will host the first presidential candidate forum to focus on environmental issues. If the Hill schedule cooperates, you just might be able to see this live on C-SPAN.
The forum takes place the day before Christine Todd Whitman completes her tenure at the EPA, where she has had to battle the harsh criticism of the center-left environmental lobby against the Bush Administration's policies.
We expect the candidates will attempt to outflank each other by brandishing their pro-environment credentials to woo this core group of mostly Democratic activists. 500-600 people are expected to attend.
Confirmed participation thus far: Braun, Dean, Graham, Kerry, Lieberman, and Sharpton.
The moderator is Los Angeles-based newscaster Warren Olney. He will be joined on a panel by : Steve Curwood, host of National Public Radio's "Living on Earth;" Pilar Marrero, Politics Editor for La Opinion; and San Jose Mercury News reporter Paul Rogers, and KABC reporter John North.
Governor Dean campaigns in California today before tonight's LCV forum. Senator Graham has a fundraiser at the home of college administrator/developer Tom Safran in Los Angeles after the LCV forum.
Congressman Kucinich won't be in California, instead he'll be at Johns Hopkins University tonight with Ralph Nader for a Democracy Rising forum.
REAL political insiders have already gotten the scoop on dueling polls (the R one from POS and the D one from Greenberg/Carville), casting radically different lights on the president's re-election prospects.
Oh, to clarify for those of you who misunderstood: we don't actually have a show on ABC Family on cable.
Those of you in the second tier should have the double dose of data by the time the first round of the NBA draft is over tonight.
Yesterday's Note lead was our little way of joking about this Los Angeles Times story. LINK
We are sorry for any inconvience our attempt at humor might have caused, but thank you for sampling ABC Family!!
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Sree Roy asks: "What do Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush have in common?"
"Answer: Well, beyond the obvious first lady connection, both visited Philadelphia this week as part of whirlwind tours that focused on books." LINK "During Bush's visit yesterday, she raised almost $600,000 at a Bush/Cheney '04 luncheon in the ballroom of the Rittenhouse Hotel. The event drew 400 people, including master of ceremonies David Girard-diCarlo, chairman of the law firm Blank, Rome, Comisky & McCauley and one of President Bush's top fund-raisers; Aramark chief executive officer Joseph Neubauer; lawyers Bob Asher and Alan Novak; business executives Fred Shabel, Brian Tierney, and Mary Dougherty; and city Republican Chairman Vito Canuso."
"Like his predecessor five years before, President Bush will visit an infamous former slave port during a trip to Africa next month," the Associated Press reports. LINK Bill Safire invokes the Name of the Rove in his latest column on the FCC and media conglomeration. LINK
Remember: results released at time TBD tomorrow.
Double or triple MoveOn voting?
Very hard to do, say the MoveOn people.
(a) you have to be a valid MoveOn member to get a ballot. Someone could theoretically create several fictitious identities (names, addresses, phone numbers) and obtain extra ballots, but MoveOn would probably figure it out … and especially so if there were suddenly a glut of new members close to the election.
(b) the MoveOn folks temporarily turned off a "You Voted Twice" notification e-mail to improve their server speed, but they insist that people who submitted two ballots would only see one of them counted.
This is not a perfect, glitch-free (and we mean that in an innocuous way) system, which will allow the losing campaigns to claim, perhaps with a little validity, that a MoveOn victory isn't all its cracked up to be.
That said, more than 210,000 people voting for anything on any platform is significant. And the MoveOn people insist they have safeguards upon safeguards.
"As for voting with multiple email addresses by registering in advance with more than one: there are a variety of ways on the back end for us to identify when people do that. We've been amazed at ho[w] little of that has gone on. Our initial read is that astoundingly few people have tried to game the system," MoveOn's Zack Exley wrote to us.
Senator Kerry remains unconvinced, according to the AP: "'It's a specific constituency. … I think it's such a specialized thing, it doesn't mean much,' the senator said, although his campaign advertised on the Yahoo! Web site urging participants to vote for Kerry. 'We're anxious to be involved in the Internet as we move forward, and we're going to be. We have an enormous Internet list — it doesn't happen to be on MoveOn.org.'" LINK
Meanwhile, no need for any more of you nice sources to write us with inexplicable pride telling us how many times you and your officemates voted. We get your point.
ABC 2004: The Invisible Primary:
With the key campaign finance deadline approaching, the Democratic presidential candidates had one last try to distinguish themselves in front of party elites last night.
But the candidate who received the longest sustained applause, to our ears, at least, wasn't even there.
Keying off of the lengthy series The Boston Globe recently ran on John Kerry's life, Congressman Ed Markey said Senator Kerry earned a place on Richard Nixon's "enemies' list" and Kerry "wears it like a badge of honor."
To sustained applause Congressman Markey closed by saying: "Vietnam didn't stop John Kerry. Richard Nixon didn't stop John Kerry. And George Bush won't stop John Kerry and the Democratic Party."
The retooled Howard Dean was on display, too.
He began by poking fun at his hot-headed reputation by issuing a "blanket apology" to all of his opponents in the room for anything that he has said or anything that he has yet to say. (A self-deprecating Howard Dean is not a version we've seen much of … )
We couldn't help but notice that Governor Dean, unlike the other candidates and surrogate speakers, maneuvered away from his table when his turn came around, swinging to be in a perfect position for the (literal) spotlight, which further enabled him to move back through the middle of the room and shake hands until he reached the standing ovation at the Vermont table. Nice touch, Gov.
Congressman Gephardt placed partisan passion over policy differences.
He recounted how "something snapped in me" during last week's Rainbow Coalition forum.
He remembered thinking that this election is not about the FCC's concentration of power, it's not about the courts … it's not about the "atrocities" that this administration is committing. "It's about how we're going to beat these people."
Senator Edwards stressed values.
"We're going to give him a debate about values … . This president's values aren't the values of the American people. He values wealth … we value hard work."
Senator Bob Graham of the self-described "electable wing of the Democratic Party" played the Florida card.
Pointing to a Florida poster he told the crowd "we can win Florida in 2004 without relying on the Supreme Court … ."
Senator Lieberman's surrogate quoted FDR's famous line about Republicans being frozen in their own indifference.
When the spotlight couldn't find the diminutive Dennis Kucinich, Cleveland's former "Boy Mayor" quipped: "I'm already standing up."
He went on to say that Democrats have to "remember where we've come from … we're the party of FDR."
Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun called for taking the "men only sign off the White House door."
The Reverend Al Sharpton left before it was his turn to speak.
A Democratic big-wig ambled over to Adam Nagourney and introduced himself by saying "They sure sent the 'A' list to this event tonight."
That same big-wig later walked to up a quiet John Wagner and said "Hey, aren't you John Harwood?" A polite Wagner demurred, and the big-wig Democrat shifted his hips and said, "Oh. Well. You look like him."
Which, to our ears, was about the weirdest thing we've heard.
The Washington Post 's Linton Weeks adds to our color Notebooks. LINK
Weeks writes that 650 tickets were sold, raising $1.7 million (according to spokeswoman Debra DeShong), and that Terry McAuliffe hustled through a speech reminiscing about the Clinton glory days; observing the presence of Anthony Williams and Rodney Slater; commending donor Haim "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" Saban; and slamming President Bush ("He has put a big old For Sale sign on the U.S. Capitol").
"Other Stylish details include the convention hall-like set up of the room, with state markers at tables (the Texas marker was toppled); the absence of "string necklace thingies" for press credentials (and an apologetic Terry McAuliffe who jokingly blamed "'McCain-Feingold'"); the unfailingly funny Al Franken providing Left-themed entertainment; the "chicken and Hulk-size asparagus spears" and chocolate mousse dinner, as well as the VIP reception's "baked brie", which Al Sharpton sampled in a desultory fashion ("'It's really hard to eat at these things.'").
Sharon Theimer's excellent story on the money chase and the expectations game gets things about right, wethinks.
What follows are the key graphs with our annotations:
"At least four of the nine were expected to be bunched between roughly $4 million and $6 million when they file their second-quarter campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission in mid-July … " LINK Very likely true, based on our reporting.
"The most striking number on the Democratic side could come from former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, whose campaign expected to raise at least $4.5 million from April through June, the period covered in the next reports. That would put him in the top tier in early Democratic campaign cash. Dean raised about $600,000 in the roughly 48 hours after he formally announced his entry into the race Monday, campaign manager Joe Trippi said."
And the money keeps rolling in, we are told. We wouldn't be surprised if the $4.5 million estimate is beaten.
"A Kerry campaign official said the Massachusetts senator's second-quarter total would be around $5 million. An Edwards campaign official estimated that the North Carolina senator would report $4 million to $5 million."
With these two campaigns, it's always very hard to know whether these figures are expectation-inducing lowballs. There will be some, though, who will wonder why both didn't exceed $6 million (if, in fact, neither do).
"A Gephardt campaign official said the congressman was aiming for $5 million. Lieberman was hoping for $4 million, while Senator Bob Graham of Florida expected to report $2 million to $3 million in contributions, officials with those campaigns said."
The Gephardt campaign will raise about $800,000 or more this week alone … . And we think the Graham figure might be a little bit too low. As for Lieberman, everyone expects him to be the big loser of this quarter — and maybe he'll defy that.
Theimer does not mention spending expectations, which will be crucial. Will any candidate leave the quarter with more than $10 million on hand? In July of 2000, Mr. Gore had $9.4 million to spend; Mr. Bradley had a bit above $6 million.
Theimer does point that President Bush will dwarf the field, most likely, having raised, in our revised estimate, about $13 million during a week's worth of events, plus untold hundreds of thousands more in web and direct mail solicitations.
The Los Angeles Times' Richard Simon has the latest vote missing story: "Earlier this year, Senator John Edwards loudly announced his opposition to legislation that, he warned, could open the door to new offshore oil drilling. But when a move to block the measure came up in the Senate this month, the North Carolina Democrat was not there. He was in Tennessee, campaigning for president." LINK
We particularly love this demographically friendly analogy: "The competing forces pose the type of logistical challenge known too well by a parent with kids playing soccer games at the same time on opposite sides of town: how to be in two places at once."
League of Conservation Voters Josh Galper sent along this list of what he says are *confirmed* celebrity attendees to today's candidate forum in Los Angeles: "Morgan Fairchild; Blythe Danner; Arianna Huffington; Ed Begley Jr.; Julia Ormond; Peter Horton; Amy Smart; Wendy Malick; Lawrence Bender; John Podesta; Art Torres; John Garamendi; Antonio Villaraigosa; Susan Estrich.
The Hotline's Chuck Todd gives Kerry the win for the month ("The guy's bio is just that big; the Boston Globe series could have put Kerry in a better light only if the
candidate wrote it himself."),
… followed by Gephardt ("Slow and steady might very well win this race, as long as the Dean phenomenon doesn't drag Gephardt down to second place in Iowa"),
… Dean ("If Dean can grab a hold of a big issue (say education?) and establish a signature idea, that could go a long way toward turning him into presidential timber."),
… Edwards ("Despite his impressive fund raising and the great first impression he makes; he hasn't had any sizzle on the trail. Part of the reason is Dean, but part of it is Edwards-his strategy has kept him on the fund-raising trail for the first six months in preparation for a televised national campaign, rather than playing this constituency-building game."),
… Lieberman ("The trouble Lieberman has with his high poll ratings is that it's mostly from liberals; people who don't know his ideology. What happens when these more liberal Democrats find out how moderate Lieberman is?"),
… .Graham ("Graham staffers are already talking about the '3rd quarter' as the make-or-break FEC period; the recent naming of a finance chair suggests that's not just talk.")
… .and the rest.
The Phoenix Business Journal's Mike Sunnucks previews this weekend's NALEO forum. LINK The conference, featuring both Democratic presidential contenders and White House officials, "has some heavyweight corporate sponsors, including General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Shell Oil, Disney, Intel and Bank of America."
"Both political parties, as well as many corporations, want to tap into the growing Hispanic market and population in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas."
In the latest edition of his Crystal Ball, Dr. Larry Sabato colorfully contends that either a "strong economic recovery" or a "double dip recession" "would not obliterate the Red and the Blue, [but] merely override those tendencies for one election season." LINK Dr. Sabato Notes: "[The] current polarization of American politics into the Blue and the Red---while certainly not as vicious as the separation of the Blue from the Gray---is historically astonishing, and somewhat reminiscent of the lingering, century-long estrangement of the North and the South after the Civil War. The Blue states are tolerant/liberal on hot-button social issues such as abortion, gun control, gay rights, and the like, while the Red states are traditional/conservative on these matters. The nation today is divided as much culturally as politically, and these divisions clearly show up on the electoral map."
But The Note knows that Dr. Sabato secretly wishes we all lived in a Blue and Orange nation. Wahoowa.
The aforementioned Chuck Todd, most esteemed and revered editor-in-chief of The Hotline, writes in his latest On the Trail column, "If campaigns were just about buzz, then Dean would be our front-runner, hands down. Of course, if 'buzz' elected presidents, John McCain would have succeeded Ross Perot as our country's 43rd president in January 2001. But clearly, the progress Dean has made as a candidate between May 2002 (when he first announced) and now is phenomenal." LINK The New Republic Primary feature has three (3) lauds for Governor Dean. LINK
Whereas Slate's Saletan thinks Dean is mucking it up when it comes to the war and national security:
"He claims to have questioned the war, when in fact he answered it pre-emptively with a categorical no. He faults his opponents for supporting the war without knowing the whole truth, though he opposed the war in equal ignorance. He says the facts proved him right, though he didn't have them beforehand. He rejects ideology but brags that he never equivocated. He's as certain as any hawk, and just as dangerous." LINK
We still don't know how exactly Dean adviser Steve McMahon hurt his knee (McMahon's (we hope) jesting answer: "Jim Jordan" notwithstanding.)
Dean shadow Kate O'Connor told us with a wink that Mr. McMahon had been "very, very bad." However, Kate's picture in Time magazine has obviously gone to her pretty little head.
And now this, from the New York Post 's Deb Orin:
"Democrats are starting to realize upstart antiwar candidate Howard Dean could actually wind up as their 2004 nominee — thanks to the power of the Internet. That scares some of them silly." LINK Um-hum.
"If you think Dean can't sell down South, bear this in mind. He's sort of pro-gun, and the National Rifle Association likes him. Yet that doesn't seem to irk his liberal backers."
"He's become the Teflon Dean among liberals, and that has really upset his rivals. Dean's missteps, like flubbing military questions, don't seem to hurt because his backers are true believers and his rivals (so far) look gray by comparison."
Over in the Daily News, this Zev Chafetz column is just plain mean: " … Dean is a prep-school aristocrat who lives in a state with a black population of about 3,000. African genocide is no big deal in Vermont." LINK Dean's presidential run is a "boon" for Vermont business, apparently. LINK
Sort of um-hum.
The Washington Post 's Neal spent a heckuva lot of time thinking about Dean yesterday: LINK
"Seven months before the presidential primary in South Carolina, the state Democratic Party doesn't have the money to pay for it, raising doubts about whether the first-in-the-South primary will take place," reports the AP's Jim Davenport. LINK "Joe Erwin, who took over as state party chairman last month, maintains that the Democrats can raise the estimated $450,000 in the coming months to hold the Feb. 3 primary; a $1,000-dollar-a-plate fund-raiser has been scheduled for Aug. 4."
The AP's Amy Geier Edgar reports that the "State Election Commission on Wednesday released its preliminary plan for compliance with the federal Help America Vote Act." LINK "The state's plan, which can be updated as needed over time, calls for implementation of a statewide uniform electronic voting system, support for disabled voters, and enhancements to election administration and training for voters, poll workers and election officials."
Despite Tim Russert's personal pleas, there are no plans yet for Senator Edwards to return to "Meet the Press," reports Raleigh News & Observer's John Wagner. LINK
"Ever since U.S. Senator John Edwards' May 2002 appearance on 'Meet the Press,' there has been no shortage of speculation in Washington as to when he might return."
"Edwards spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri said that doing the Sunday morning show simply isn't a priority at this point in the campaign."
"'Some political observers in Washington may pay attention to who does what show,' Palmieri said Wednesday. 'But voters don't care.'"
That just proves what Joel Johnson has long known: that a certain Edwards spokesgal has been in Raleigh too long, hanging around at the Farmers' Market near N.C. State, and exhibiting a certain out-of-touchness with real people inside the Beltway that we never thought we would see in her.
Eric Dyer has a longish piece in today's Greensboro News-Record taking stock of Senator Edwards' campaign. LINK
"U.S. Senator John Edwards has barely paused since telling a TV audience six months ago he was running for president."
"Yet despite Edwards' efforts to build a national organization, his candidacy does not appear to have caught fire. The freshman North Carolina senator remains stuck in a pack clamoring for the Democrats' 2004 nomination, and he continues to poll poorly in early battleground states."
Stu sees a silver lining.
"'Nobody else has broken out,' said political analyst Stuart Rothenberg. 'That's the good news for everybody.'"
"'We'll stay in the single digits all summer long because no one is paying attention to the race,' said press secretary Jennifer Palmieri. 'People don't know who John Edwards is, and they won't until we start running TV commercials.'"
"Ads will air no sooner than August, she said." (again … .)
And look at how Ed Turlington is composing the campaign.
"'The campaign has a plan that will build to a crescendo when it needs to hit a crescendo, and that's when people start .'"
With some help from her home state Senator, North Carolina attorney Allyson Duncan easily got through her Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing yesterday. LINK
"All but one of the questions posed to Duncan on Wednesday were asked by Edwards, a Judiciary Committee member."
"Edwards pitched softballs. He asked what Duncan learned from a judge for whom she clerked early in her career and whether her civic involvement would make her better on the bench. And Edwards wanted to know whether Duncan was committed to offering due-process protections to all those who appear before her."
In case you are wondering, Ms. Duncan answered in the affirmative.
Erin P. Billings writes for Roll Call that heated competition for campaign funds and Gephardt's departure from the leadership team have placed House Democrats and the DNC at odds, and that "communication and cooperation in fundraising efforts has all but ceased" between the two groups.
"'They've done embarrassingly little to help the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] and the [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee],' said one top House Democratic aide. 'They talk about giving us money, but they don't spend the money in ways that help us win back the House.'"
"The DNC, however, said that while the presidential race takes top billing, supporting the Congressional campaign committees remains a priority and noted that many of the targeted presidential states are also host to key House and Senate races."
Former NSC official (now Kerry adviser) Rand Beers received the rare honor of being an in-studio guest with Ted Koppel last night.
Mr. Beers was accompanied to ABC's DeSales street studio by Mr. Robert Gibbs. LINK Rand told Koppel that he didn't know he'd join the Kerry campaign when he resigned from the Bush Administration.
"It certainly wasn't clear in my own mind," he said.
The AP and everyone else got a nice photo of the Senator and a motorcycle in Laconia. LINK LIEBERMAN
The Hartford Courant ed board applauds Senator Lieberman for "thinking big." LINK
"Credit Senator Joseph I. Lieberman for promising that if elected president he would reduce the poverty rate to its lowest level in the nation's history. None of the other eight Democratic presidential contenders has made such a sweeping and highly ambitious pledge."
"First, however, Mr. Lieberman has to get nominated by his party and elected by the American people. To do that, he would have to persuade a majority that his multifaceted attack will lead to the historic triumph he is seeking."
"Any president who in a four-year term brings down the poverty rate to an all-time low deserves to have his likeness carved on Mount Rushmore."
The Forward's E.J. Kessler writes that Senator Lieberman "is jabbing at Bush with new vigor, last week castigating the chief executive for having 'a social agenda that is so right-wing that it has divided America at exactly the time we should be most united.' Pounding the theme, the Democratic presidential candidate also said that he would direct the nation 'off the right-wing track George Bush put it on, onto the right track.'" LINK Kessler Notes: "Some observers are finding the tussle for the Kennedy mantle one of the more amusing features of current Democratic stump rhetoric: Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, the presumed front-runner of the presidential field, [like Lieberman] also quotes Kennedy and tries to evoke in his audience the voluntarism and civic participation that were part of the Kennedy élan. But there is more than enough "Kennedy" to go around. Kerry's Kennedy is more the big-government liberal of the Apollo Project and the Peace Corps, while defense-hawk Lieberman tries to conjure Kennedy the Cold Warrior."
The Daily Oklahoman reports 26-year-old (and Indiana native) Josh Geise has been tapped to be Senator Lieberman's campaign director in the Sooner State. LINK
Ok, we've had it. Why the HECK is the Lieberman campaign so obsessed with the title of "campaign director," rather than "campaign manager?"
(If you think we're kidding, we can forward you some of the non-funny, no-good very-bad e-mail we get when we substitute "manager" for "director.")
Philosophy thing? Weird, internal power struggle? Quirk? Google monkey irritant? Which is it?
The Kris Schultz Primary is well underway. LINK The Manchester Union-Leader's DiStaso writes that the New Hampshire Democratic Party will use the courts to try to force an investigation into alleged election day phone jamming in 2002. LINK
Stuart Rothemberg opines for Roll Call on retired General Wesley Clark' "'uncampaign'" and finds that while it resembles that of Dwight Eisenhower, Clark "simply isn't Eisenhower."
"While Clark was the commander of NATO's military action in Kosovo, Ike had been the Allied commander for the massive and history-changing invasions of North Africa and France, as well as Army chief of staff and president of Columbia University. Everyone knew Eisenhower. He led military efforts to free the world. Nobody knows Clark."
"An overwhelming 81 percent of likely Democratic primary voters tested nationally in a March 2003 Zogby poll said they were not familiar enough with Clark to have either a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him."
"By contrast, in September 1951, 74 percent of those polled had a favorable opinion of Ike, 11 percent had a favorable opinion of him but believed that he wasn't presidential material, and 2 percent had an unfavorable opinion of him."
The Drafters plan to open their New Hampshire campaign office on July 4.
Big Casino budget politics, taxes:
Josh Bolten's confirmation hearing to run OMB went swell, and his position that the president anticipates no new tax cuts at this time is so far beyond meaningless we aren't quite sure what to make of it. LINK David Halbfinger of the New York Times details how Republican Alabama Governor Bob Riley has worked himself into a bit of a conundrum. LINK
Riley "needs all the support he can muster for the $1.2 billion-a-year tax increase that he is asking his state's notoriously tax-averse voters to approve in a referendum on Sept. 9."
"If he could count on anyone's backing, Mr. Riley … seemed safe in assuming that black Democrats would support his plan, because it would aid many of their constituents by raising the income threshold at which Alabamaians have to pay taxes, to $17,000 from $4,600, the lowest in the nation."
"But on Tuesday, Mr. Riley vetoed the prize legislation of the Legislature's Black Caucus, a long-sought bill that would have eased the restitution of voting rights to felons who have served their sentences. Now, black lawmakers are threatening to abandon Mr. Riley's tax plan in retaliation."
Big Casino budget politics, Medicare/Medicaid:
George "They Haven't Led/We Will" Bush worked wavering House members over on Medicare yesterday, while the Senate grinded onward. LINK The AP's David Espo writes, "President Bush cajoled conservatives to support a Medicare prescription drug and modernization bill Wednesday, urging them to overcome their opposition to creation of a costly, new government benefit program." LINK The Washington Times gives big play to the meeting: "But the entreaties by the White House have fallen short for at least some conservatives, who plan to vote against the bill when it comes to the House floor today." LINK "'I'm having a hard time accepting the universal drug benefit — the creation of a new federal entitlement,' said Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican, who was at the meeting yesterday, but who still plans to vote against the measure.'"
"Those at the meeting included Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican. Conservatives asked for more time to review the House bill but that request was denied, said Rep. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican."
DeMint later sent around a press release saying he opposes the bill.
The New York Times Pear and Toner have the most quotes from conservative House members who "love" their President, but are still skeptical, and they close their piece with this bit of code breaking, that the White House knows all-too-well about, all their definition of the word "worse" is totally different: LINK "Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, said he worried about what would occur in a conference committee. A Senate Democratic strategist said, 'People anticipate the bill will get worse in conference, not better.'"
In the Wall Street Journal , David Rogers writes about the Lobbyist-in-Chief, and also about a partisan CMS/CBO dispute (alphabet city, DC-style) that you can deal even David finds slightly mind-numbing. LINK Meanwhile, Roll Call 's Emily Pierce reports that Republican leaders in the Senate are planning to block an amendment to the Medicare bill which "would cut the prescription drug benefits of Members of Congress down to the level being proposed for average senior citizens across the country."
"The plan to scrap the provision during the upcoming House-Senate conference committee comes despite Tuesday's overwhelming passage of an amendment by Senator Mark Dayton (D-Minn.). The amendment, which passed 93-3, would slash the prescription benefits enjoyed by lawmakers under the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program."
"Indeed, many Republicans — 50 of whom helped add the provision to the Senate version of the Medicare bill this week — acknowledged that they were told by their leaders to vote for Dayton's amendment with the understanding that it would not show up in the final version of the legislation — which both chambers are expected to pass this week."
"'Most Members saw this as demagoguery,' Senate Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (Pa.) said of the amendment. 'And we weren't going to condone it publicly by taking it seriously. So we all voted for it.'"
"Dayton pointed out that Members of Congress currently not only avoid deductibles but also enjoy seamless prescription drug coverage no matter how much the total yearly cost of their prescriptions under their FEHBP insurance plans."
"Senators on both sides of the aisle acknowledged the vote was meant more as a political message than as a real effort to change Members' health benefits."
The New York Times and Washington Post send nice young, talented reporters to Nashville and Cleveland, respectively, to try to gauge how the Medicare changes will play and work. and LINK The Wall Street Journal ed board takes a break from bashing polling to use some polling to take its latest whack at the Medicare "reform" sailing through Congress.
Bob Novak mysteriously keys off of the same polling data, and suggests that the loss of medical privacy, Ted Kennedy's support, and the dearth of free market stuff in the emerging package threaten to turn Medicare into another steel tariff or farm bill situation. LINK
As for Medicaid, the Wall Street Journal 's enterprising Sarah Lueck went all the way to Scribner, Nebraska to write about the cut backs:
"Now, as cash-strapped states struggle to balance budgets, many are eliminating Medicaid coverage for optionals. Medicaid consumes on average 15% of state budgets, and in the last two years, at least a dozen states passed legislation or received federal permission to disqualify hundreds of thousands of people hovering at the margins of poverty … "
"During the next year, about one million optionals will lose Medicaid coverage if all of the cuts take effect, according to an analysis in March by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington think tank that focuses on low-income people. Many will join the 41 million people in the U.S. who already have no health insurance."
Yesterday, The Note wondered aloud if President Bush would allude to the recall effort while raising $6 million worth of campaign funds in California tomorrow.
Today, the Washington Post 's Mike Allen provides us with an answer. LINK "Administration officials said Bush does not plan to take a position on the recall drive."
"White House spokeswoman Ashley Snee delivered the party line to be used during Bush's visit: 'The White House is not involved in the effort. It is a matter for the people of California.'"
A coalition of labor unions fighting the recall jumped on revelations about Representative Darrell Issa's past troubles with the law and held a press conference to call on the Congressman to release his "complete criminal record." That, of course, caused Ms. Marinucci and her colleagues at the San Francisco Chronicle to get a second day story repeating much of what was disclosed yesterday. LINK
However, the Chronicle team did get this from Bill Simon:
"Bill Simon, the Republican candidate for governor defeated by Davis last November, said the Issa story illustrated 'whoever chooses to run is going to be subjected to a lot of scrutiny.'"
"However, he said, 'this recall movement, at the end of the day, is about one thing — Gray Davis and his performance. It's about a grassroots movement. It's not about Darrell or me or Arnold (Schwarzenegger, who is also mentioned as a potential candidate).'"
"Simon said he sympathized with Issa, adding, 'I'm certainly familiar with the personal attacks that Gray Davis has specialized in the course of his career. He campaigns by demonizing his opponents.'"
Yesterday was car theft; today the San Jose Mercury News follows up with a story from Representative Issa's past about suspicion of arson. (Unfortunately, no link is available, which makes you wonder how The Note knows about it … )
"Two years after the San Jose charges, Issa came under suspicion again when the Ohio factory housing his fledgling auto-alarm business went up in flames."
"Issa had wrested control of the small, struggling electronics company from two brothers in Cleveland. A few months later, the business was destroyed in a Labor Day weekend fire. Arson investigators hired by the state concluded that 'this was not an accidental fire.'"
"Suspicion focused on Issa, who had recently more than quadrupled the building insurance from about $100,000 to $460,000, was inside the building several times over the weekend and had taken a key computer from the business a few days earlier."
"Darrell Issa told the Mercury News that the fire ultimately was not ruled an arson, he had nothing to do with it and the insurance payments did not even cover the cost of the damage."
The Boston Globe 's Bobby Caina Calvan takes a look at how California Democrats are reacting to the possibility of a recall election. LINK "'We all thought it wouldn't happen, but the stars have converged,' said Barbara O'Connor, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Media at Sacramento State University."
"The possibility of a recall is causing political schizophrenia among Democrats, she said. 'They're not enamored with the governor, but Democrats don't want to contribute to the end-running of the Democratic political process.'"
"Democrats such as Daphne McCarley are conflicted. 'We shouldn't be doing a recall, not now,' she said. The state budget, which has a $38 billion deficit, is still unsettled, and a recall could divert attention from other pressing issues, she said. But if a recall makes the ballot, she said, 'I would have to look at the list of candidates.'"
"Dissatisfaction with Davis is widespread. Polls continue to show him with low approval ratings. Among Democrats, 38 percent approve of his job performance, according to a recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California."
Politics: Please read the entire John DiStaso column:
"Richard Borneman, a Washington lobbyist who has a home in North Conway, tells the Status he was 'hurt and offended' that he recently was, in his words, 'trashed in my home state.'" LINK
"He was referring to suggestions by Democratic operatives — some of which found their way into print — that he was involved in the phone jamming operation. He says he had nothing to do with it."
"Borneman said he became a target for Democrats after he was named in news accounts of a Capitol Hill controversy involving client Westar Energy of Kansas. The fuss began last month when a year-old e-mail/memo by a former executive vice president to other company execs ordering donations for certain congressmen was made public."
Giuliani raised $1 million for the Florida GOP! LINK
Giuliani raised $1 million for the Florida GOP! LINK Giuliani raised $250,000 for the Florida GOP! LINK
A Democratic party press release is writing itself as we copy and paste:
Paul Kane writes for Roll Call that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is beginning to look ahead to 2004 and focus his attention on fundraising. His political action committee "raised nearly $1.2 million in the first half of the year, doubling the take of some other prominent Senate leadership PACs."
Roll Call 's Chris Cillizza confirms what we all suspected: Republicans are leaving Democrats in the dust when it comes to fundraising.
"The disparity was most blatant between the National Republican Congressional Committee, which raised $8 million in May and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which brought in $1.5 million last month. For the first five months of the cycle, the NRCC collected $39 million to the DCCC's $10 million."
"On the Senate side, the National Republican Senatorial Committee raked in $3.3 million in the month and banked almost $4 million. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $1.1 million in May with roughly $2 million on hand."
If you're in the DC area, tie on your walking shoes as soon as you finish The Note and get over to the WalkingWorks Capitol Hill Challenge kiosk-run by Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans-located behind Longworth House Office Bldg. on C Street (between S. Capitol and New Jersey). LINK
Track how much time or how many steps you walk daily during the WalkingWorks Capitol Hill Challenge — from Tuesday, July 1, through Sunday, August 31.
Participants who walk at least thirty 30 minutes a day, five days a week for six weeks are eligible for a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award of the president's Challenge.
At the kiosk until noon today, you will receive a pedometer to track the number of steps you take or the distance you walk, as well as a t-shirt, a Capitol Hill walking map, and a WalkingWorks program guide and log. Do your part to help alleviate America's health-care problems! Get over there before noon!
(And, organizers, could you mail us a couple sets of that fun stuff? We are planning to do our walking tonight.)
Has anybody seen the ad Congressman Pat Toomey is running in Pennsylvania for his primary challenge against Senator Arlen Specter? The Note can't precisely identify the tune that chimes a few times during the spot, but it definitely sounds fair and balanced.
The New York Times has a Specter correction, a Corzine/Lautenberg/Clinton/Schumer correction, and a Vilsack correction that it plagirized from yesterday's Note. LINK The Clintons of Chappaqua:
The New York Post 's Vincent Morris reports on talk that high-profile yet lightening rod Hillary Clinton may be tapped to fill the Senate leadership position should Tom Daschle resign. LINK The California Democratic Party e-mailed the dates, times, and locations for Senator Clinton's book-signing events this weekend in the Golden State.