WASHINGTON, Oct. 13
Our paralysis over Fitzgerald (indictments or no indictments?) and Miers (fascinating confirmation hearings or mythical withdrawal? ) is nearly absolute.
That makes writing The Note every day right now nearly impossible. Anything that appears below is simply the product of the cutting and pasting of the work of 1,000 Googling monkeys. We can't even think straight, let alone type straight.
Our plea: please let the shoes drop.
That is the exact mindset of the entire Gang of 500.
Trust us. This we know.
Breaking through the clutter, beyond the data-obsessed focus on the too-grim-for-words NBC/WSJ poll numbers (see below):
1. IF a senior White House official is indicted, the only possible way we can see that the Administration could fight it off (and the indicted could stay in office) would be to use an argument like the one made by Richard Cohen in his column today: that mistakes were made, but the criminalization of routine political acts is bad for America. LINK
It's an argument that Paul Begala and other Longhorns have made before. And it doesn't necessarily conflict with the Notion that Patrick Fitzgerald has run a "very dignified investigation," as the President quite Notably said this week.
2. Fred Barnes implicitly attacks Bill Kristol and says Miers deserves her day in court, erh, the hearing room. LINK
3. And/but Peggy Noonan says Miers should withdraw now, and explains it as only Peggy can. LINK
Seemingly free of what is afflicting us, President Bush participates in a video teleconference with US troops at 9:45 am ET. Per ABC News' Ann Compton, "The live teleconference will actually be President Bush getting live feedback from the field -- 10 American soldiers and one Iraqi -- telling him about security in the city of Tikrit for this constitutional referendum."
The second installment of Dr. James Dobson's "here's what Karl Rove told me" radio broadcast on Harriet Miers airs today.
Sens. Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Barack Obama (D-IL) hold a briefing on "Responding to Rising Gas Prices: How Automakers Can Rescue Jobs and Profits by Improving Fuel Economy" in the Hart Senate Office Building at 2:00 pm ET.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) stumps for his ballot measures at a 1:00 pm ET campaign event at the Hilton Burbank Airport and Convention Center.
At 3:00 pm ET in downtown Los Angeles, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) will announce his opposition to Proposition 75, the "paycheck protection" measure. Proposition 75 would, in Kerry's view, "silence the voices of firefighters, teachers and nurses and increase the power corporate special interests have over government."
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) campaigns in Iowa today. His first three events are in Des Moines. He has two "meet and greet" events as well as a 6:00 pm ET reception honoring Iowa state Rep. Peterson. He then travels to Ames, IA for an 8:45 pm ET reception honoring state Assistant Minority Leader Lisa Heddens.
Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, DC at 10:00 am ET.
The AFL-CIO and the China Currency Coalition hold a press conference to call on the Bush Administration to take "real action against China's illegal currency manipulation" at the National Press Club starting at 10:00 am ET.
Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine (D) spent the morning greeting metro commuters at the West Falls Church Metro Station. He has a 4:00 pm interview with Bruce DePuyt on Northern Virginia's News Channel 8.
The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation releases its weekly survey on fixed-rate mortgages at 1:00 pm ET in McLean, VA.
Accuracy in Media holds a luncheon with Jack Wheeler of the Freedom Research Foundation, titled, "Why Liberals Are Incapable of Defending America" at Charlie Chiang's Restaurant in Washington, DC.
Former HUD Secretary Jack Kemp delivers 5:00 pm ET remarks at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC to mark Disability Awareness Month.
The House, the Senate, and the Supreme Court are not in session today.
In his write-up of the Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll, the sagacious John Harwood writes that Americans are showing less enthusiasm for Miers than they did for Roberts; that this reluctance extends to Bush's political base, and that men and women hold similar attitudes toward her nomination.
The President's overall approval rating stands at 39 percent, "a shade below the 40 percent in September that had been the lowest the Journal/NBC survey found for his presidency." And the wrong track is hideous.
The war in Iraq is described as possibly the "biggest cloud" of Bush's second term. "By 58 percent to 34 percent, Americans say US troop levels should be reduced once elections scheduled for December are held, up from 48 percent to 42 percent before the previous elections in January."
On the 2006 front, Harwood reports that "Republicans have been hurt by ethical questions surrounding some prominent party leaders in Washington."
"Fully 65 percent of Americans polled -- including half of Republicans -- say recent charges against former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay indicate 'potential illegal activity,' far outpacing the 24 percent who call indictments against him a 'partisan political charge.'"
"By 57 percent to 28 percent, Americans express the same view about stock sales by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist."
By 48 to 39 percent, the public says it wants Democrats rather than Bush's party to control Congress after the midterms.
Harriet Miers for Associated Justice:
The fabulous John DiStaso reports in his Granite Status column in the Union Leader that the White House is helping to coordinate an effort to pressure Senators who visit New Hampshire to vote "yes" on Harriet Miers. LINK
The Washington Post's Baker and Babington have Miers news of day, with Al Gonzales intuiting that the nominee is pro-life and this award-worthy kicker quote, "Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman stressed that Miers would not be seduced by the liberal establishment like other Republican-appointed justices who 'want to curry favor with the Georgetown cocktail set.'" LINK
The Bush Administration drew more fire yesterday from all fronts for emphasizing Miers' religious beliefs, the New York Times reports. LINK
The Boston Globe's Charlie Savage reports that the "increasing focus" on Miers's religious faith "drew criticism from some leaders of the religious right" who Noted that White House supporters of John Roberts had "rejected suggestions by liberals that his devout Catholicism might affect his judicial rulings."
The Los Angeles Times has the blowback on the role of Miers' faith in her selection. LINK
USA Today on the same. LINK
The Washington Post's Goldstein and Baker have on-the-record and background quotes galore from Bushies who have worked with Miers, most Notably Ari Fleischer unplugged. LINK Also: Governor Mitch Daniels reminisces and Secretary Spellings confesses to the knowing that she has a potty mouth.
The Post duo bend over backwards to be fair, but those looking to see a limited crony will have data points to grab onto. And did we all know that Miers was on AF1 on 9/11?
David Brooks tears into a 1990's-era series of columns by Miers in the Texas Bar Journal, deciding that "sad to say, the quality of thought and writing doesn't even rise to the level of pedestrian." LINK
"I don't know if by mere quotation I can fully convey the relentless march of vapid abstractions that mark Miers's prose… Throw aside ideology. Surely the threshold skill required of a Supreme Court justice is the ability to write clearly and argue incisively. Miers's columns provide no evidence of that."
Here's the link to all of the PDFs of the columns that Miers wrote for Texas Bar Journal. LINK
The ed board of the Nation's Newspaper questions whether Miers can demonstrate judicial independence from the Bush Administration. LINK
The Dallas Morning News has an interesting piece on how Karl Rove turned the Texas Supreme Court Republican. LINK
The Fitzgerald investigation:
Mr. VandeHei of the Washington Post says Fitzgerald is focused on May/June, Rove/Libby, and an array of possible crimes. LINK
Howie Kurtz's Washington Post Stylish look at Miller and her New York Times colleagues (Park VI) is filled with quotes (blind/on-the-record, former/current Timespeople), but only hints at what Howie really knows, which has a certain poetic irony, given the topic. LINK
The New York Times on Miller's testimony. LINK
The Wall Street Journal's McKinnon and Hagan think the disclosure of an earlier conversation between Libby and Miller in June 2003 is "potentially significant" because "it suggests the White House could have been developing a strategy to undermine Mr. Wilson even before he went public with his criticisms . . ."
The AP's latest wrap on all things Fitzgerald. LINK
Mary Matalin on Imus went with the "nobody knows a thing" analysis of the investigation and said she is too busy to really follow what is going on in something that is "utterly meaningless."
Frist and HCA:
Dr./Leader/Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) recently received a subpoena from the SEC, and he is complying. And it apparently raises no separation of powers issues.
One congressional source tells ABC News that the subpoena was "only a matter of time" and that it is not in any way extraordinary given the ongoing investigation.
From ABC's Ed O'Keefe: In one sense, this source is correct: this was the next, natural step of an inquiry. However, it also signals an acceleration of the investigation, rather than some sort of quick dismissal.
The Washington Post's Johnson and Birnbaum use the peg of Sen./Dr./Leader Frist recently being subpoenaed by the SEC for documents to give us all a lesson in the separation of powers niceties that arise in such investigations and to review the latest AP disclosure about Frist's holdings. LINK
Republican lawyer Jan Baran's slam of Frist's handling of all this is Notable.
The New York Times on Frist being subpoenaed. LINK
Texas conservative groups will start running television ads against DA Ronnie Earle today. They will air mostly in Austin, but also on the Fox News Channel. LINK
Samantha Levine of the Houston Chronicle reports that mysterious automated calls are going out to Republican politicians telling them to give back their DeLay PAC money. As of yet, no Democratic groups have come forward to claim responsibility. LINK
While in Stockholm, Sweden yesterday, former Vice President Gore let loose on how the country would be different if he had been elected in 2000. LINK
"'We would not have invaded a country that didn't attack us,' he said, referring to Iraq. 'We would not have taken money from the working families and given it to the most wealthy families.'"
"'We would not be trying to control and intimidate the news media. We would not be routinely torturing people,' Gore said. 'We would be a different country.'"
As he has done in the past, Gore said he has absolutely no plans to run for office while adding: "I don't completely rule out some future interest, but I don't expect to have that."
RNC spokesgal Tracey Schmitt didn't like what the former Veep had to say about "routine" torture.
David Broder (HEARTS) the Kamarck/Galston report, and sort of (HEARTS) Vilsack and Bayh. LINK
The last of four letters in this coming weekend's New York Times Magazine about the Junior Senator from New York:
"It is obvious that Matt Bai did not bother to read 'The Truth About Hillary' before he criticized me of 'literally' accusing Clinton of lesbianism. There is no such charge in my book. -- Edward Klein, New York"
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, in his capacity as chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, suggests ways to "generate $113 billion in savings over five years, without reducing vital public services and investments." The ideas include: "declare war on pork"; "end corporate welfare"; cut oil and gas subsidies"; and "trim government waste."
General Clark railed against President Bush's Iraq policy and sparred with his fellow speakers Madeleine Albright and Lawrence Eagleburger during a panel discussion in Fredericksburg, Virginia. LINK
While in Virginia, he stopped to stump for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tim Kaine. LINK
Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) will support Kerry, not Clinton, if the junior Senator from Massachusetts decides to run again. Kennedy said yesterday, " ' Every day, I think they regret that John wasn't elected,'" the AP reports. LINK
Kennedy isn't Kerry's only fan. The junior Senator went backstage at U2's recent show in Boston and left with "Bono Irish Falcon" guitar, gifted to him from the rock star-cum-world savior. LINK
The Boston Phoenix's spicy Adam Reilly gives a thumb's-somewhat-up to "Inside the Bubble." LINK
BusinessWeek reports that Edwards has signed up with Wall Street investment firm Fortress Investment Group. LINK
Scott Bass of Style Weekly looks at Gov. Mark Warner's chances in 2008 and pegs him as the Democratic Party's best hope for a return to the White House. LINK
The AP on the efforts of Govs. Bill Richardson and Jon Huntsman to create a Western regional presidential primary. LINK
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) has joined Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) in pushing legislation that would provide Katrina refugees with the same voting privileges granted to other absentee residents, Roll Call reports.
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is at the forefront of Bay State efforts to assist in the flooding cleanup response despite criticism that the Governor was traveling as the storm approached. LINK
A story in the South Florida Sun Sentinel looking at an upcoming fundraiser Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) is holding at the waterfront estate of billionaire H. Wayne Huizenga, describes the President's brother as someone who is "seen by many Republicans as a future presidential candidate." LINK
The Washington Post Barnes takes a front-page look at the strategy behind the emotional Kilgore death penalty TV spots aimed at breaking open the close gubernatorial race with Kaine. LINK
Jeff E. Schapiro and Tyler Whitley report that Virginia gubernatorial candidates Kilgore and Kaine are sparring publicly over the death penalty's effectiveness as a crime deterrent. LINK
Mayor Bloomberg promised yesterday to become more involved in rebuilding efforts at Ground Zero, per the New York Times. LINK
Rudy Giuliani and former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) hit the Forrester-Corzine campaign trail yesterday, the New York Times reports. LINK
The New York Daily News has Edwards saying: "I don't believe the people of New York are going to allow their mayoral office to be bought." LINK
The New York Post editorial board unexpectedly comes to the defense of Ferrer. LINK
Guiliani backs Bloomberg's decision to go public with the subway threat. "I think New Yorkers want that. I certainly would have done it." LINK
Republican city council hopefuls are looking to ride Bloomberg's coattails into City Hall. LINK
Big Casino: budget politics:
The Wall Street Journal's David Wessel -- who has not looked lately into President Bush's soul -- writes that the time has come "to stop wondering if taxes are going up and instead to ask how and for whom."
The Schwarzenegger Era:
California Republicans are looking to take a few pages from the Bush 2004 campaign playbook, moving to "rally Christian conservatives behind an abortion measure on the November special election ballot in hopes that, once drawn to the polls, they will back the rest of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's fall agenda." LINK
Some Los Angeles Times readers think Sen. John McCain only hurt himself with his appearance with Schwarzenegger this week. LINK
Robin Toner of the New York Times has a meta-must read on Democratic dreams for 2006: "a sweeping midterm election framed around what they describe as the simple choice of change with the Democrats or more of an unpopular status quo with the Republican majority."
But the question remains whether Democrats can "offer more than a blistering critique of the Republicans in power, the regular attacks on what Democrats now describe as a 'culture of cronyism and corruption.'"
"What they need, many Democrats acknowledge, is their own version of the 'Contract With America,' the Republican agenda (tax cuts, a balanced budget, a stronger military and an array of internal reforms) that the party campaigned on in the 1994 landslide election, when it won control of the House and the Senate."
Of course, RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman has his doubts (and Toner has about three "to be sure" graphs in here).
"'Look, we've heard this talk before. It was always talk then, and it's talk now. If you look at the competitive races, you'll find a playing field that is either relatively even or favors Republicans. They have a huge uphill fight, and there's no evidence they're climbing that hill.'" LINK
Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times analyzes the 2006 primary landscape, writing that each party "confronts the risk that its nominees in key states will be weakened by intraparty fights before the survivor can take on the opposition in the general election."
But Brownstein Notes that the primaries "may cause more headaches for Democrats than Republicans next year," with battles in Ohio, Rhode Island, and Maryland causing some hand-wringing already. LINK
With NBC/WSJ heavily touting their new poll showing President Bush's 2% support from African-Americans, the Washington Post's Mosk and Wagner look at Michael Steele's bid for the black vote in his Maryland Senate run, with Rove and Mehlman cameos. LINK
Pirro's team brings in some fresh Washington blood with a "New York street-fighting attitude". LINK
The St. Petersburg Times is calling into question Congresswoman Katherine Harris' fundraising ability based on the latest tally. LINK
Tom Fahey reports in the Union Leader that New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch has joined several groups who filed Supreme Court briefs opposing mandatory parental notification for abortion. LINK
The Clintons of Chappaqua:
The junior Senator from New York hits Tinseltown for fundraising and atonement: LINK
Hats of to David Letterman and Dominic Carter for their Wednesday interviews with Dr./Gov./Chairman Dean, the former for his tough-but-fair questioning, the latter for cleverly asking a polling/process/horserace question of Dean to close the session, immediately after Dean had decried the Gotham City media for failing to cover issues in the mayoral race instead of polling/process/horserace.
Bob Novak writes that "the individual whims of two Republican senators" are holding up Senate confirmation of two of the President's envoys, John Bolton and C. Boyden Gray. LINK
The New York Times looks at the battle over a ballot proposition to ban same-sex marriage in the Texas Constitution, to be voted on Nov. 8. LINK
A new Census Bureau analysis shows the differences in marriage and birth data between Red and Blue States. LINK
Lloyd Grove has writer Richard Bradley (the George Magazine editor formerly known as Richard Blow) emailing Hotline editor Chuck Todd, asking for him to cease and desist use of the unflattering nickname "Dick Blow". "Isn't such snarkiness a little immature for a serious publication?", he asked. The Note demurs on the issue of snarkiness. LINK
A drowsy Googling monkey could have sworn that none other than Grover Norquist got a shout out on this week's "Gilmore Girls." Those Palladinos are toying with us, or, at the very least, with David Remnick. A peripheral character's out-on-a-limb comparison (Rory = Grover?) was too gratuitous to bear recounting in detail.