The Note

Yesterday, Howard Dean failed miserably in the eyes of all but 10 members of the Gang of 500 by performing - by Gang standards - absolutely unfabulous in a key Beltway ritual.

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Today, Howard Dean's announcement speech was seen live by more supporters than any announcement in the history of presidential politics (we are pretty sure … ).

Those two contrasts perfectly encapsulate the riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a question that is the essence of If Howard Dean had a "normal" candidacy, yesterday's shifting, evasive, base-alienating performance on "Meet the Press" would have devastated his prospects.

A review of his senior staff's reaction suggests they couldn't have cared less, however.

To say Tim Russert was significantly more prepared for the interview than Howard Dean would be to insult Tim.

But as Dean made it official today at 1:00 pm in Burlington (and with thousands watching in big cities by satellite feed and on the web), the politico-media establishment continues to look at him as an anti-war pipsqueak, who, after yesterday, is decidedly not ready for primetime.

We could go into great detail about the substantive and stylistic reasons why Dean's performance was an utter disaster in the eyes of the Chattering Class, but doing so might give you a misleading impression.

Kit Seelye in the New York Times calls it straight: "Dr. Dean, a Democrat who prides himself on his straightforwardness, equivocated on several issues."LINK

Even the AP wire hinted at how gruesome it all was: "Interviewed Sunday on NBC's 'Meet the Press,' he seemed unsteady on some issues and prickly when second-guessed." LINK

Besides being evasive, Dean left himself vulnerable from the left, right, or both on the military, gay marriage, Social Security, and more.

He looked thin-skinned, unprepared, stuttering. His odd position on whether he had apologized to Bob Graham defied understanding.

What we say matters not.

What this next group of people says matters A LOT.

Some of the Doctor's supporters on the web didn't love the show. (A few also didn't appreciate the fact that Senator Russert asked hard questions. The nerve of that man!) LINK AND LINK

--"Could someone please explain to me why Dean said we need MORE troops in Iraq? … I am an avid Dean supporter because I THOUGHT he was against the Second Iraqi War — not for it."

--"Sitdown interviews are Governor Dean's worst venue … "

--"Did the DLC submit the questions for Tim Russert?"

--"What Dean forgot on today's MTP is that he's not running against Tim Russert. (Incidentally, I'm a liberal Democrat, and the notion that Russert is a conservative is rather silly.)"

--"I was really really disappointed with the interview. I thought it was Deans big opportunity to really mark his place, but he failed. I feel like Tim is overly tough on Dean, compared to how easy he has gone on many other people in the past."

--"Good exposure, and surviving was even better."

--" … Governor Dean missed a chance to hit the ball out of the park when Russert brought up Dean's apologies.:"

--"it was a minefield. i think dean did well considering the loaded questions russert asked. some of this answers were fantastic and some were lacking in smack-it-out-of-the-park clarity."

--"I think Dean did ok. I think that he mnight nopt have been fully prepped due to his taking time off to deal with family matters. He did a lot better on Charlie Rose."

It's those opinions — not ours — that have defined the Dean candidacy.

Dean, more than any other presidential hopeful,

# stumbled onto the war as a way to cut into the vein of anger at President Bush that courses through many liberal Democrats;

# sounds like a real person when he speaks;

# sounds like a real liberal when he speaks, even though he's not;

# managed to attract a gaggle of loyal, star-struck staff for whom Dean is truly godlike and inspiring;

# had the time to travel to New Hampshire and Iowa early and often;

# went for months without the Establishment taking him seriously, which allowed him to adopt a McCain-like truth-telling veneer and not be challenged when it would occasionally tarnish

# got early gay and lesbian money

Other campaigns realize that if THEIR candidate performed as Dean did yesterday, their announcement day would be ruined. And they think it is just a matter of time before Dean is held to the same standard as their horses are.

But that day won't be today.

No new news of Note seems to have come out of the various multi-candidate Democratic events over the weekend.

The Doctor has his Day mostly to himself, though Congressman Gephardt will get his fifth union endorsement today--from the Brotherhood of Boilermakers.

Tonight in New York, President Bush may shatter the $5 million fundraising barrier erected by a single Phil Gramm event in 1996. There may have been a change to the pool-press only policy.

Tom DeFrank and Joel Siegel raise the curtain: LINK Vice President Cheney raises money in Hopkington, Massachusetts and Richmond, Virginia, today —.

At this writing, Washington is braced for various Supreme Court decisions and/or retirement news, with potential political implications.

As you know, the Bush administration is trying to reap credit for drug benefits and other changes in Medicare.

On Monday, four top health officials are to embark on a three-day "better benefits tour," visiting cities from Miami to San Diego to tout such improvements. President Bush had favored the idea, rejected by House and Senate leaders, of offering drug coverage only to Medicare patients willing to join a private health plan, but Administration officials have sought to play down that rebuff.

( The Orlando Sentinel's Mark Silva suggests that any drug benefit President Bush can sign will aid his Florida re-elect effort in 2004.) LINK

Voting begins in the MoveOn primary on Tuesday and continues Wednesday. The winner will need more than 50% to gain the coveted endorsement, or else MoveOn will schedule another round of voting. (The Los Angeles Times' Ron Brownstein either buys into it, or gets it, depending on your point of view: "This New Age plebiscite could mark a significant turn in the 2004 race and a milestone in the development of the Internet as a political tool." LINK)

President Bush meets with Pakistan's president tomorrow at Camp David and returns to the White House for a celebration of Black Music Month. Wednesday, he has a joint press avail with EU summit leaders at the White House. Thursday, he has three international-ish events in DC.

And Friday, he attends two fundraisers in California.

The Democratic National Committee's Presidential Dinner this Wednesday is set to gross about $1.5 million for the party. All but Senators Kerry and Lieberman are confirmed to attend (though those two are maybes).

There are two major candidate forums this week. On Thursday, the League of Conservation Voters hosts a half dozen presidentials; on Saturday, the National Association of Latino Elected Officials and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus team up. (Senators Graham and Leiberman get their own special NALEO forum on Friday.).

Senate votes could ruin or delay both of those, however.

Senator Kerry is in Coralville, Iowa today; Pembroke, New Hampshire on Wednesday; and Tacoma, Washington for the Washington State Democratic Party's annual Albert D. Rossellini Dinner.

Senator Graham will spend part of the week in Florida;

Governor Dean will travel from Vermont to DC tomorrow.

From the schedule they put out, the Edwards campaign appears not to have scheduled anything for their candidate until Saturday's NALEO forum.

Howard Dean's big day:

The former Vermont governor hit a few morning shows today, and committed no news.

The Boston Globe 's Sarah Schweitzer has a front page story on the lively, brash, about-to-announce Dr. Dean, whom she describes as "[u]northodox, sharp-edged, and appealing enough to have earned him a corps of fervent supporters." LINK

Schweitzer explains that the McCain-like apparent candor which has won Dean so many fans and enabled him to challenge John Kerry's New Hampshire lead, may not play so well in, say, South Carolina, and may cost him the support of donors and party activists who might dismiss him as a "noisemaker."

As for the issue that made him a star in the first place, Schweitzer writes: "The Dean camp is acutely aware of potential flameout. Dean's formal announcement is being billed as an effort to deflect attention from his major publicity coup to date: opposing the war."

The AP's Ross Sneyd writes, "Some Vermont voters may have a tough time recognizing the Howard Dean who mounts the stage in his adopted hometown this week to declare his campaign for president." LINK

More Sneyd: "Dean was a centrist governor. He's viewed as a liberal candidate. That's based largely on his measured opposition to the war in Iraq and also his opposition to the president's tax cut package."

The Wall Street Journal 's Jacob Schlesinger keys off of the Dean announcement with a very nice anthropological look at the various things the campaigns do at this stage to get press attention.

The only flaw in the story: Jake states unequivocally that Dean apologized to Graham — silly boy.

The Washington Post s' Leibovich looks at the ritual of announcing for president when one has been running for months. LINK

Homestate Sunday paper curtain-raising: LINK

and LINK and LINK and LINK

Dean's Saturday Iowa cancellation made the Register. LINK

Brian Faler's Sunday Washington Post Pol Notes had an item with a certain spokesguy on the record against a certain candidate: LINK

"Aides to Dean's rivals, who have grown tired of his sharp elbows on the campaign trail, noted what they see as the risks of the ex-governor's missteps. 'It's hard to be a straight-talk candidate when you spend most of your time apologizing for things you know aren't correct,' said Robert Gibbs, a spokesman for Senator John F. Kerry (D-Mass.)."

We liked the blind quote Tim read on Meet the Press even better.

And how about those shots of Kate O'Connor in the Meet open!!!

ABC 2004: The Invisible Primary:

The New York Post 's Page Six has a Just Asking which should have some staffer rushing over with a wallet, if true: "WHICH Democratic presidential hopeful played a dangerous game of dining and dashing at one of the city's powerhouse restaurants? The owners have given the candidate plenty of time to pay his bill. Now they're getting annoyed . . ." Ed Walsh of the Washington Post went to St. Paul and found Democratic state party chairs wanting one thing: a winner. LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Jeff Zeleny encountered state chairs who want aggressive attacks on the president, including on credibility and foreign policy. LINK

In Saturday's Boston Globe , Walter Mondale told Glen Johnson how Democrats can win back the White House. LINK

When the fellas at RNC research stop laughing, they will file this one away for later use.

John Kerry up and announced he will filibuster. LINK

If there is a nominee with either a clear anti-Roe position, or an ambiguous one (and no one thinks the president will nominate someone outside those two categories), this means there WILL be a movement to filibuster, and that means that pro-choice senators (or, at least, pro-choice Democrats) will be under pressure to join it.

We still don't quite get the positions of the other Senators, but we are sure someday we will.

David Broder's Sunday column looked at the various pressures the candidates face with their second-quarter money numbers, although he does no bar setting. LINK

Al From criticizes Gephardt and Dean; Terry McAuliffe criticizes From; the DLC looks for its place in the Post -Clinton world; and Ron Brownstein was able to chronicle it all in Saturday's Los Angeles Times. LINK

The New Hampshire Sunday News editorialized yesterday regarding the shame the paper feels Senators Kerry and Graham should feel over attacking the president over Iraq. LINK

The Greens plan their national convention in Milwaukee in '04. LINK

The Sunday Boston Globe looked at how the Big Dig has become the Big Dug, with a drop-off in construction jobs. LINK

The Daily News' Joel Siegel reports on New York Assembly Speaker and Lieberman backer Sheldon Silver's attempts to move up the Empire State primary from the crowded March 2nd Super Tuesday to a more prominent February 24th. LINK


Did anyone else see Governor Dean and Senator Kerry holding hands during the prayer session after last night's forum?

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Deirdre Shesgreen writes, "The candidates all took sharp aim at President George W. Bush's policies on a wide swath of race-related issues and voiced strong support for affirmative action, increased funding for health care and education, and other issues." LINK

Jesse Jackson Sr. told Ms. Pickler of the AP that the party needs its own Southern Strategy. LINK

Ed Walsh's Washington Post write-up suggested a hearty, newsless, winner-less event. LINK

USA Today 's Susan Page says the "exchanges on stage underscored a divide among Democrats over what message will work best against a formidable Republican president." LINK

The New York Times ' Monica Davey had much the same take: "For this day, at least, these competitors seemed to disagree on little." LINK

The Boston Globe 's Glen Johnson writes likewise, and includes some eloquent, fluid quotes from the Reverend Jackson about the state of American affairs. LINK

David Lightman writes: "What came through loudest and clearest Sunday was that a freshly energized Jackson and his coalition have a well-defined point of view and, perhaps, the clout to push it." LINK


Number seven, Saturday's final part of The Boston Globe 's John Kerry series, ties up some loose ends in the areas of love and war, with a symbolic rapprochement with Vietnam, a 1995 wedding to the wealthy, unconventional Teresa Heinz, and a presidential hopeful "liberated by the fact of [his] candidacy." LINK

For more details about Kerry's formerly Republican, peach-Oscar-de-la-Renta-wedding-gown-wearing bride (She's way rich! Houses, paintings, and everything!); his rough Weld race; his forged relationships with Senators Kennedy and McCain; his senatorial accomplishments during the nineties (with a focus on foreign policy, the economy, and the environment); as well as more persnickety Globe minutia about Mr. "Live Shot" (hey, fellas, don't forget the guy is a longtime politician-some ambition is okay … ), check out John Aloysius Farrell's whole story.

And don't miss the "Rorschach pattern of his personality" in the guise of Kerry's "hideaway" office in the Capitol: windowless, containing "a huge map of Vietnam, which enables Kerry to show visitors where he fought his battles;" posters of French wars, The Grateful Dead, and Bruce Springsteen; a handwritten note from rock star/activist Bono ("John — I'll be back. Bono"); a photo with Ted Kennedy; and, naturally, a picture showing "Kerry on the cover of a windsurfing magazine."

Epic, dude (or nukin', rigger, skunked, deck-check, new-school, or tooled-time will tell). John Kerry Heard it from the Heartland on Saturday. LINK

The Des Moines Register 's Jonathan Roos reports that Senator Kerry portrayed the president "as a huckster who has left Americans with failed economic and foreign policies" during his "Hear it from the Heartland" session Sunday with Senator Harkin in Mason City, Iowa. Newsweek's Melinda Henneberger has the latest THK profile. This one starts, "Teresa Heinz Kerry emerges from her Boston town house in a black workout leotard and dark glasses (though the morning is overcast), nibbling a handful of granola en route to her Pilates class." LINK


What seemed to have happened at the Democratic event in Newton?

# John Edwards continued to use really harsh, personal rhetoric against President Bush, that the media would never tolerate if the shoe were on the other partisan foot, calling the incumbent "a complete, unadulterated phony."

# Edwards, per the Boston Globe 's Glen Johnson, also seems to have changed his position on government subsidies for large hog lots.

# Kucinich and Shartpon, per the norm at multi-candidate events, stole the show. LINK, and LINK

By the end of Governor Vilsack's time in office, there will be a consensus about what the single David Yepsen column which can be considered the most negative.

Yesterday's must might make it to the final round, casting the Gov as basically an ambitious, untrustworthy liberal. LINK


Great answer, Howard.

Faye Fiore's Sunday profile of Joe Lieberman led with the "started late" theme, but mostly was about the "too centrist to be nominated" theme. LINK


Good Answer, Carol.

It's David Lightman's turn to do the "Senator Lieberman doesn't work on the Sabbath" story. LINK

"The senator's campaign organization says religion is not an issue. Lieberman pollster Mark Penn surveyed two groups of 400 people and went through the Lieberman biography with each. He mentioned the senator's religion to one group and not to the other. 'It made absolutely no difference,' said Penn, in their view of the senator."

"Campaign Director Craig Smith dismissed the question of Saturday absences."

"'This is just the way it is, and you make it work,' he said. 'If anything, you end up looking refreshed on Sunday.'"

Good Answer, John.

The Hartford Courant's Liz Halloran attended the SILVERDOCS festival and wrote this review of "Only in America." LINK


Washington Post . Saturday. David Von Drehle. Bob Graham. Harsh anti-Bush attacks. LINK

Harsh nut graphy conclusion: "'He's really got a bead on this thing,' said one senior Washington Democrat of Graham's anti-Bush barrage. 'He's absolutely got the right message.' But then he added the frequently expressed view in the capital that, because of his age, personality and recent health problems, Graham 'is just the wrong messenger.'"


John Edwards enjoyed a Friday in Iowa. LINK


The Washington Post 's Juliet Eilperin gave Dennis Kucinich the full Post profile treatment yesterday. LINK

It is a respectful profile, focusing on underdoggity, a leftish vision, and electability.

George Condon's father makes an awesome cameo.

In Kucinich's own words: LINK

And the photo gallery, in which photos 2, 3, and 4 are must-views. LINK


New York Post readers love Al Gore (not). LINK

Karenna Gore-Schiff is getting a new Schiff sister-in-law LINK

While the Gores have a distant relative. LINK


Check out the new look Union Leader! LINK

Garry Rayno ended his Sunday News column with these classic items: LINK

"A TIME-OUT. On Tuesday lawmakers can take a break."

"Benson and Red Sox principal owner John Henry kick off Boston Red Sox New Hampshire Fan Appreciation Day with a reception from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the State House lawn. A rally by the State House steps will follow the reception."

"COOKING CONTEST. There is also a legislative cooking contest on Tuesday. The end of session party and dessert bake-off will be held after the session in the Upham Walker House across Park Street from the State House."

"All House members can submit their baking specialties to be judged by House staff. The categories are cakes, cheesecakes, loose cookies, bar cookies and pies."

"Who said there wasn't some sugar in this session? (Although some days did have the taste of vinegar.)"


Paul Kane and Chris Cillizza write for Roll Call that a small group of former aides to Deleware Democratic Senator Joseph Biden "has begun to assemble the skeletal infrastructure of a presidential campaign team, preparing to swing into action if Biden decides to join the swelling field." LINK

The article carefully analyzes the difficulties and likely strategies of a Biden campaign which-if it ever kicks off-reportedly would not begin until this fall.

And Mark Preston reports in Roll Call that retired General Wesley Clark is making waves in Washington, with many exhorting him to run for the presidency. LINK

One lingering sticking point, though, is that he has not openly declared an affiliation to any party.

"That fact has angered some senior Democrats, who want Clark to state unequivocally his party affiliation as he openly explores a challenge to President Bush next year. … "

"He sidesteps questions about his political affiliation by saying he prefers to talk about the issues. And in an interview between meetings Thursday, the general said he doesn't have a specific time frame in mind as to when he will make up his mind whether to run for president."

Bush-Cheney re-elect, the money:

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Bob Novak acted like he was breaking the hot dog story on Sunday. LINK

Sunday, the New York Times ed board wrote something completely incomprehensible about President Bush and the $2,000 contribution limit. LINK

The San Francisco Chronicle's Marc Sandalow writes, "When the president rolls through Northern California late this week, it will be part of a 14-day, seven-city sprint during which Bush will raise roughly as much money as all nine of his Democratic opponents reported during the first 90 days of the year." LINK

The Boston Globe 's Anne Kornblut apparently wanted a weekend in New York, so she came in advance of tonight's money event to look at the re-elect's chances in the Empire State. LINK

Dick Stevenson gave Mercer Reynolds the fullish profile treatment in Saturday's New York Times . LINK

That's Mercer Reynolds III, in case you had any doubt.

Bush-Cheney re-elect:

Sunday, the Washington Post 's Dan Balz had a must-read on how the president wants to use '04 to make the GOP the dominant party. LINK

Read it all, but Note these two paragraphs:

"One part of the strategy calls for continued care and feeding of the party's tripartite base of economic, national-security and social conservatives, with a policy agenda that touts U.S. preeminence in the world, pours more resources into the war on terrorism, calls for additional tax cuts and supports party orthodoxy with its positions on abortion, guns and judgeships."

"A secure conservative base frees Bush and his advisers to pursue the other, more ambitious, element of their strategy, which is to use domestic and foreign policy initiatives, governmental appointments and symbolic actions to increase support among swing voters. Republican strategists believe they must move aggressively with Bush in office to reach out to nontraditional Republicans to offset demographic trends that would otherwise lessen the party's chances of sustaining power."

The New York Times ' Elisabeth Bumiller enjoys the view from Ken Mehlman's new office. LINK

Robin Wright sees "six pivotal" events that persuaded President Bush to wade deeply in the murky Middle East waters. LINK

Saturday, Dana Milbank's Washington Post story demonstrated Matt Brooks' unshakeable support for George W. Bush. LINK

In the Week in Review in Sunday's New York Times , David Rosenbaum cleared the president of the accusation of lying about Iraq or taxes. LINK

Mike Allen Noted this in Saturday's Washington Post , about the aftermath of the president's Friday Georgia money party: "In a very unusual move for Bush, he stopped his motorcade on the way back to the airport and shook hands with 30 or 40 onlookers." LINK

The New Hampshire Sunday News says that next summer's G8 has a 50-50 chance of being held at the Mount Washington Hotel. LINK

The paper couldn't learn who the rival host option is.

We wonder if that alternative is in a battleground state.

Karl Rove will speak at the Republican Party of Louisiana's 3rd Annual Red White & Roux Dinner August 15.

Big Casino budget politics, taxes:

Bob Novak reported yesterday that Bill Frist just might be stacking the conference to kill the child tax credit. LINK

The Treasury Department numbers on the taxes that NBC News ordered up are adjudged misleading and selective by Peter Orszag, but they allow Mike Allen to break the news that the president plans to use taxes as a big issue in the 2004 campaign. LINK

The Wall Street Journal ed board whacks at the death tax.

In a USA Today cover story that is sure to be essential reading in the Bush White House, Dennis Cauchon analyzes "the states' money mess" under the headline: "Bad moves, not economy, behind busted state budgets." LINK

Big Casino budget politics, Medicare:

Robert Pear and Robin Toner tried to make the perfect the enemy of the (presumed) good in Sunday's New York Times , with a look at the complexity of the proposed "new" Medicare. LINK

The Washington Post 's Ceci Connolly filed on Saturday concerning the Democratic presidential candidates and President Bush potentially taking the Medicare issue off of the '04 table. LINK

The Talented Mr. Espo tries to untangle the Ted Kennedy Medicare move. LINK

As did Political Points veteran Carl Hulse in Sunday's New York Times . LINK

The Wall Street Journal ed board continues to attack the "reckless" Medicare changes being considering, and their reporting suggests some level of rebellion among House Republicans.

They rail against "Karl Rove, the editorialists at the Washington Times and other Beltway conservatives" (this could be a good fight … ) for abandoning free-market principles for the sake of a mirage of short-term political gain.

A must-read if your name is "Pear," "Toner," or "Blankley."

The Boston Globe 's Susan Milligan looks at criticism of the provision in the Medicare package skewing drug benefits for seniors of different wealth, and includes a few key senatorial reactions. LINK

Milligan offers Senator Kerry's criticism: '''We will for the first time say to seniors who have paid into Medicare for a lifetime that now, in their old age, because of their income, they will be given a lower'' benefit, Kerry said. 'It's a terrible precedent.'''

We also get Senator Bob Graham's view that "the coverage was inadequate," and Senator Clinton's derision of the bill as "overly bureaucratic."

The Wall Street Journal 's David Rogers looks at the drug companies strapping on their holsters to visit Gucci Gulch.

California recall:

Dianne Feinstein's "I have no intention of running" was treated as Shermanesque by the Los Angeles Times on Sunday. LINK

The Sacramento Bee's Margaret Talev leads her Sunday piece with the decisions of California Democrats to forgo a gubernatorial candidacy on a recall ballot, if one comes to pass. Although, she's not convinced those refusals are as steadfast as they might appear to be. LINK

"Not everyone at the Capitol is convinced the Democrats who bowed out this week would resist the temptation to run."

We couldn't agree more.

Dan Smith also points out that if Governor Davis resigns his office after the recall petitions have been certified, the recall question would still go before the voters and Lt. Gov. Bustamante would only be able to retain his office if a majority of voters voted against the recall. LINK

Bob Novak claims the movement to get Davis to resign lives. LINK

William Safire spends much of his column comparing the political plights of Gray Davis and Hugo Chavez, but ultimately suggests different fates for the two.LINK

"But Californians should suffer Gray Davis for three more years, voting like grown-ups not as penance for their mistake last year, but to uphold the principle that election results are final for a fixed term and officeholders should not be removed merely when ratings fall."

There is now an official recall theme song, according to Dan Smith's buzz column in the Sacramento Bee. LINK

"The notoriety of the recall effort against Davis has, inevitably, been captured in song."

"Inspired by a petition-signing pitch on the San Diego radio show hosted by Roger Hedgecock (himself an infamous former politician), humorist Glenn Erath penned and performed 'Bye Bye to That Gray Davis Guy,' sung to the tune of Don McLean's 1971 hit 'American Pie.'"

The journalistic triumvirate of Josh Kurtz, David Perera and Sarah Bouchard write for Roll Call that as Congressman Darrell Issa has attempted to work his way to the California governor's seat by pushing the efforts to recall current governor Gray Davis, Issa's "19 Republican House colleagues from the Golden State have been strangely silent … ." LINK

According to the report, several key Republicans either expressed only lukewarm support for the recall efforts, or opposed them altogether.

The San Francisco Chronicle's Carla Marinucci filed a Sunday preview of what a full blown Issa candidacy may look like. LINK

The Clintons of Chappaqua:

Jim VandeHei had a must-read Saturday piece that was kind of the ultimate "The Clintons of Chappaqua" work. LINK

Setting the scene by overviewing all the ways that the couple dominate Democratic politics to this day, Diamond Jim had this bit of exclusivity:

"Still, some Democrats want the Clintons to go away. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently did focus groups around the country with Democratic-leaning voters and found widespread resentment of both Clintons, according to a Democratic aide familiar with surveys conducted in several cities."

"Many focus group participants called the former president 'immoral, smooth, crooked' and dishonest, the aide said, while Hillary Clinton was seen as an 'opportunist.' 'It gives us a brand we just don't need,' the aide said."

The piece had a lovely use of the word "privately" (regarding how Bill Richardson recently talked about maybe running for POTUS in '08); floated the FPOTUS as a Gotham mayoral candidate in three years; and elevates Mike Lux to Ickesian and Podestian status.

The New York Post 's Page Six picks up on the Washington Post report that Tucker Carlson is a bit ill over the notion of his likely shoe-and-tie meal. LINK

The New York Post s Vincent Morris writes that Democrats may enjoy the attention HRC's book brings to the party, but that Republican see some upside too (just ask Senator George Allen). LINK

National security politics:

In Sunday's Washington Post , crafty vet Walter Pincus suggested that there were pre-war doubts inside the intelligence community about the Iraq-Al Qaeda links. LINK

George Will's weekend column said that the administration will indeed have a serious credibility problem if WsMD are not found, and the pre-emption doctrine will be at risk. LINK

Judicial confirmation battles:

Sunday, the Washington Post 's Charles Lane had a full pot of tea leaves regarding any possible Rehnquist and/or O'Connor retirements, leaning with the CW against any departures. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Savage does his version of the "many social conservative elites fear Gonzales is soft" story. LINK

The Washington Times ' Charles Hurt reports that California Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein "strenuously oppose the nomination of California Judge Carolyn B. Kuhl (to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals), suggesting she may become the third Bush nominee filibustered in the Senate." LINK

The New York Times ed board comes out against William Pryor's nomination. LINK

The Economy:

Reuters' Glenn Somerville reports, "The U.S. Federal Reserve, seeking to rev up a slow recovery while keeping price deflation at bay, is universally expected to cut interest rates to 1958 lows this week." LINK


Big Los Angeles Times series on political nepotism. Put a family member on the payroll; loop around ethics guidelines, in the view of some. LINK and LINK

The Washington Post 's Tom Edsall has a methodical round-up of "whither Westar? that will warm DNC hearts. LINK

How much worry about this one is there in GOP cloakrooms? The Note doesn't know.

As the Rapid City Press examines Senator Daschle's voting record for clues LINK, we have to ask: just what IS going on with those "strategic" disagreements between the offices of Senator Daschle and Senator Clinton?

The New York Post 's Ed Robinson picks up on the Time story that has Rudy Giuliani affirming his political future, but vaguely. LINK

So does the New York Daily News' Greg Gittrich. LINK

Bush Administration strategy/personality:

N. Gregory Mankiw, the president's new CEA chief, got full New York Times Sunday business section treatment. LINK

White House press corps regulars will like the part where Claire Buchan tells Mankiw what to say.