The Note: The Raptor and the Three-legged Rabbits

A Time Magazine investigation by Zagorin, Tumulty, and Calabresi shows that Jack Abramoff, the "lobbyist now at the center of a federal probe," had a "good friend eager to open doors at the White House: former Christian Coalition chief Ralph Reed." Note the e-mail cameo of Susan Ralston, Abramoff's former executive assistant who now works in that capacity for Rove. LINK

"Although Abramoff repeatedly tried to contact Rove, sources tell Time, he had been able to arrange only one private meeting with Bush's top political strategist, early in 2001. Ralston subsequently referred his occasional requests to the White House intergovernmental-affairs office. When Abramoff pleaded by e-mail in February 2003 for her to help arrange a 'quiet message' from Rove to the Interior Department on behalf of a tribal client, Ralston rebuffed him: 'Karl and others are aware, but the WH is not going to get involved.' So Abramoff sent a copy of Ralston's curt e-mail to Reed, who replied, 'this is ridiculous. want any help . . . ?'"

The politics of Iraq:

The Washington Post's Bradley Graham reports that the U.S. military has "abandoned its previous refusal to publicize enemy body counts and now cites such numbers periodically to show the impact of some counterinsurgency operations." LINK

While Washington awaits the endgame in the Fitzgerald investigation, the New York Daily News reports the White House is equally concerned by growing public concerns about Iraq -- and how this may affect the President's legacy. LINK

Says one senior Republican political strategist, "But if there's a civil war and Americans are still dying, Bush will end his term as one of the most unpopular Presidents in history."

2008: Republicans:

CQ Weekly and National Review make George Felix Allen a cover boy twice over this week.

CQ Weekly's David Nather writes: "What sets Allen apart from other 2008 hopefuls, Republican consultants and activists say, are his people skills and his ability to frame conservative views in ways that put his audience at ease -- one of the most important qualities Republicans say he shares with Reagan and Bush."

National Review's Rich Lowry is not entirely sure how the Dubyaesque quality will play in 2008, cautioning that Allen's persona "might seem too similar to Bush at a time when even Republicans might be suffering, after eight years, from Bush fatigue."

But Lowry's portrait, like Nather's in CQ Weekly, is largely a glowing one.

Writing under a "His Future Is Now" header, Lowry writes: "It is not hard to do a calculation that says at this early stage in the '08 race George Allen has perhaps a better chance of winning the nomination than any other Republican."

Conservative powerbroker Grover Norquist, who is quoted about Allen in both pieces, tells National Review: "He is right now best positioned in the sweet spot of Republican politics. He is on good terms with every piece of the coalition."

Lowry examines Allen's "libertarian sensibility" thusly:

"In the 1993 gubernatorial race he refused 'to be labeled pro-life or pro-choice,' and said he would, as a theoretical matter, support his daughter's decision to get an abortion. But he has never voted the wrong way on abortion or other social hot buttons, except for opposing the so-called gag rule when he was in Congress during the first Bush administration."

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