WASHINGTON, Oct. 26
ABC News' Jason Ryan reports special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and several of his deputies arrived at US District Court at 8:55 am ET.
ABC News' Jason Ryan has this guidance from a Justice Department official: NO ANNOUNCEMENT FROM FITZGERALD IS EXPECTED TODAY. (Though, it should be Noted, that it is possible that the grand jury could return an indictment today placed under seal -- or a myriad of non-announcement developments.)
ABC News' Ann Compton reports that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby were both present and accounted for at the daily senior staff meeting at the White House this morning.
While we all wait, our main advice is: deep breaths and lots of water (Note: the water thing does NOT apply to those of you who expect to be doing hours of live TV.)
Our secondary and tertiary advice includes:
Indictments are not convictions.
Don't believe everything you read on the Internet.
This might or might not be a tea leave as big as all Rancho Cucamonga: Roll Call's Mary Ann Akers, in the only scoop of the cycle, hears that Fitzgerald paid a visit to Patton Boggs yesterday to see Karl Rove's attorney Robert Luskin. Akers says the hallways of the firm were abuzz with rumors that Fitzgerald will have to ask for an extension on the investigation.
If you think it is strange that Patrick Fitzgerald's team is interviewing the Wilsons' neighbors in what is believed to be the last week, consider yourself both right and wrong.
Not everything about Fitzgerald can be divined from his relationship with cats -- but almost everything.
Don't expect this story to (continue to) play out like a paperback thriller or an Oscar contender (but don't be surprised if it does).
As Bloomberg's Al Hunt sagely points out, Fitzgerald, like Imelda Marcos, could have a closet-full of additional shoes beyond what might drop shortly.
The warmth, respect, and affection that Bush-Cheney staffers feel for Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby is abundant and genuine.
There are a lot of things that aren't illegal which are politically embarrassing; people who do indictable things (and their colleagues) often have also done a lot of politically embarrassing things.
Don't try to anticipate the reaction of the public to the story as it twists, turns, and develops.
Don't let your fears/hopes that the Administration is a sinking ship distract from the day-to-day realities and customs of the Bush White House.
Fitzgerald has a history of longish indictments with plenty of narrative detail.
Please don't be surprised if the grand jury is extended, if there are many people indicted, if no one is indicted, or if indictments are issued under seal.
You have permission to be surprised if a constitutional officer is formally listed as an unindicted co-conspirator.
You have permission to be surprised if the word "forgeries" appears in any indictment.
Brace for pompous analyses galore of how wrong the coverage was -- perhaps more off-the-mark than the run-up to Justice Clement, er, Roberts.
Oy: another round of blog stories.
Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, President Bush addresses the Economic Club of Washington, DC at the J.W. Marriott Hotel at 1:00 pm ET today. He also tends to international affairs at the White House today where he will meet with the U.S. ambassador to Iraq at 9:20 am ET and with the prime minister of Macedonia at 2:20 pm ET.
Vice President Cheney travels from Wyoming back to Washington, DC today after receiving his regular briefings. He will deliver remarks at the National Building Museum this evening at a bipartisan tribute for Congressman John Dingell (D-MI) which begins at 6:30 pm ET (see below for The Note's Q&A with Mr. Dingell).
Harriet Miers' revised answers to the Senate questionnaire are due on Capitol Hill today.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid will be joined tomorrow by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta at 11:00 am ET in the U.S. Capitol to call on President Bush to release a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy after "months of delay over bureaucratic infighting."
The candidates for governor of Virginia are pulling out the big guns today.
Former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore will be joined by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani at a luncheon in Norfolk, VA at 12:00 pm ET while Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine holds a 12:00 pm ET women's event in Arlington, VA with Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and a 5:00 pm ET multicultural rally in Annandale, VA with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.
Earlier in the day, Richardson will be in the Garden State, campaigning with Sen. Jon Corzine in Jersey City, NJ at 9:00 am ET, meeting with seniors in Newark, NJ at 10:30 am ET, and delivering a keynote address at a Latino scholars luncheon in Newark at 12:00 pm ET.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger holds a 1:30 pm ET event at a private residence in Arcadia, CA.
The House meets at 10:00 am ET to consider the Hurricane Katrina Financial Services Relief Act of 2005.
The Senate Budget Committee holds a 2:00 pm ET mark-up of the Deficit Reduction Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 2005.
Sens. Kennedy, Schumer, Dorgan, and Harkin will call on the Bush Administration to rebuild the Gulf Coast in a way that is fair to workers at 10:30 am ET in Dirksen 430. The four Democratic Senators will criticize the Bush Administration for suspending Davis-Bacon, awarding no-bid contracts to "corporate cronies," and for waiving affirmative action while refusing to "use their tax cuts for the wealthiest to offset the costs of rebuilding."
House Democratic Leaders Pelosi, Hoyer, Menendez, Clyburn, and Spratt hold a press stakeout at 10:00 am ET immediately after the House Democratic Caucus meets in Cannon 345 to discuss Republican budget cuts and the GOP's "failure to reduce gas prices and home heating costs."
Sen. John Kerry delivers an address on national security at 1:00 pm ET at Georgetown University's Gaston Hall.
The Revolving Door Working Group holds a 1:30 pm ET press conference in Dirksen 106 to release a report that indicates a "pro-business bias in regulatory enforcement, contracting, and legislation." Participants include Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Rep. Martin Meehan (D-MA).
One day after the U.S. death toll in Iraq reached 2,000, the Win Without War coalition is organizing 6:30 pm local time vigils around the country.
Cindy Sheehan is holding a week-long vigil at the White House.
The Fitzgerald investigation:
The Los Angeles Times puts together a must-read on the latest signals coming from the Fitzgerald investigation showing increased attention to Karl Rove. The paper Notes that the special prosecutor "may be considering indictments that some have viewed as too difficult to pursue, including prosecution under a federal law that makes it a felony to reveal the name of a covert agent." LINK
"Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald also dispatched FBI agents this week to the CIA officer's neighborhood in Washington, asking neighbors whether they had been aware — before her name appeared in a syndicated column — that the operative, Valerie Plame, worked for the CIA."
According to one neighbor who is clearly well-schooled in the investigation:
"'They really only had one interest, and that was to know whether Valerie's identity, on what she did for a living, was known prior to the Novak article. It seemed they were trying to establish clearly that prior to the Novak article she was not widely known on the cocktail circuit… And I pointed out, we were good friends, we socialized with them, and we just had no idea' until her status was made public in the Novak column. . ."
And don't miss the reporting from Italy buried at the bottom of the story.
The Wall Street Journal's McKinnon and Squeo lean towards the Notion that the leak probe is focused on the Office of the Vice President and not on Rove. "if Mr. Rove isn't charged, it would be a relief for the White House and Republicans -- though one significantly tempered if several White House officials are indicted."
The Wall Street Journal duo Note that even if the grand jury votes on indictments today, Fitzgerald could "file them under seal until later in the week."
"One remaining mystery is who provided Ms. Plame's name to Robert Novak, whose column revealed the former operative's identity."
In the newish category, the Journal reports: "While Mr. Novak has declined to say whether he talked to the special prosecutor, an attorney involved in the case confirmed that the columnist had discussed the source of that information. Mr. Novak's attorney declined to comment."
The Washington Post's VandeHei and Leonnig report that the decision on the part of FBI agents as recently as Monday night to interview at least two people in Valerie Plame's neighborhood is a "possible sign that Fitzgerald may seek to charge one more mode officials with illegally disclosing Valerie Plame's CIA affiliation." LINK
And be sure to Note their reporting on the length of time Fitzgerald has had Libby's Notes on the June 12, 2003 Libby/Cheney colloquy.
The New York Times reports that Fitzgerald continued to seek information yesterday on whether Karl Rove "had been fully forthcoming about his contacts" with journalists in July 2003. LINK
"The flurry of last minute activity had White House officials anticipating an announcement as soon as Wednesday about whether the prosecutor would seek indictments. Indictments of Mr. Libby or Mr. Rove or both would leave Mr. Bush a political crisis with the potential to reshape the remainder of his second term."
Buried in today's New York Times story is this seeming advancement on what the paper reported yesterday: "The notes (sic) do not show that Mr. Cheney had learned the name of Mr. Wilson's wife or her covert status, lawyers involved in the case said. But they do show that Mr. Cheney knew and told Mr. Libby that Mr. Wilson's wife was employed by the Central Intelligence Agency and may have helped arrange her husband's trip, they said."
That would make the September 2003 "Meet the Press" language more of the "meaning of is is" ilk and less of the plausible deniability ilk.
Here is what the paper reported yesterday without a mention about what the Vice President discussed with Scooter Libby with regards to the arranging of the Niger trip.
"Lawyers involved in the case, who described the notes (sic) to The New York Times, said they showed that Mr. Cheney knew that Ms. Wilson worked at the C.I.A. more than a month before her identity was made public and her undercover status was disclosed in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak on July 14, 2003."
"Mr. Libby's notes (sic) indicate that Mr. Cheney had gotten his information about Ms. Wilson from George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, in response to questions from the vice president about Mr. Wilson. But they contain no suggestion that either Mr. Cheney or Mr. Libby knew at the time of Ms. Wilson's undercover status or that her identity was classified."
The New York Daily News says Scott McClellan's comments yesterday may have sought to put some distance between the White House and Rove and Libby, while sources speculated on the impact of Vice President Cheney's newly revealed ties to the case. LINK
"'Cheney can't like this story,' a former Bush White House staffer said. 'Even if he has no legal exposure, this is more political exposure for him.'
"A former Cheney aide was more blunt: 'For the first time, this puts him right in the middle of it.'" Ron Fournier of the Associated Press looks at Vice President Cheney's "sticky political, if not legal, situation. . ." LINK
"The latest disclosure also raises fresh questions about the vice president's credibility, long-ago frayed by inaccurate or questionable statements on Iraq," writes Fournier.
For the truly obsessed (which, we assume, is the Note's entire reading public), the New York Observer offers a look inside the New York Times' newsroom these days, full of insider insight on the apparent push to get Miller out of those hallowed hallways, Sulzberger's vanishing act, and whose hands were on the wheel. LINK
The New York Times' Doug Jehl looks at the rare success Fitzgerald has had delving "deeply into conversations that government officials and reporters had every reason to believe would remain confidential." LINK
Former President George Bush (41) offered some timely words on what it's like to be a political player in a scandal engulfed Washington, DC. The AP has the story from Wyoming: LINK
"Asked by Simpson what was his toughest time in public service, Bush said it was chairing the Republican National Committee during the Watergate era."
"It was terrible," Bush said. "I remember one shoe would drop, and then in the press another shoe would drop."
Bush recalled that the Democratic chairman at the time, Robert Strauss, who was a friend of both Bush and Simpson, called and said the GOP job was like "love with a gorilla."
"I said, 'What are you talking about,'" Bush said. "And he said, 'Well you can't stop until the gorilla wants to.' That's exactly how the job felt. Every time you turned around, there was some other scandal, some other exposure, some other thing that happened."
Harriet Miers for Associate Justice:
The New York Times has several Republican Senators expanding "the drumbeat of doubt" over the Miers nomination, with many suggesting yesterday that "as Ms. Miers continued her visits on Capitol Hill, she was not winning over Republican lawmakers." LINK
A few samples:
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL): "I am uneasy about where we are."
Sen John Thune (R-SD): "There is an awful lot of Republican senators who are saying we are going to wait and see. . ." and "She has really got to raise the comfort level around here."
Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN): "I certainly go into this with concerns," and need "to get a better feel for her intellectual capacity and judicial philosophy, core competence issues."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): "She needs to step it up a notch."
The Washington Post's Babington and Goldstein report that a pre-hearing Miers speech is among the moves being considered by the White House. LINK
But one Administration official who is working on the Miers nomination tells ABC News this morning that despite the Washington Post story, folks in the Administration are not considering having Harreit Miers make a pre-hearing speech.
The Washington Post's Jo Becker looks at speeches Miers gave in the 1990s in which she defended social activism and seemed comfortable with judicial activism. LINK
"White House spokesman Jim Dyke said the speeches are 'entirely consistent' with the conservative doctrine of judicial restraint Miers recently outlined in a questionnaire for senators.
While he said some conservatives 'may be in a snit' about Miers's comments on self-determination, the context was clear: 'This is someone who sees an appropriate role for the courts and an appropriate role for the legislature.'"
The fair-minded James T. Dyke, Jr. of the United States, who appreciates the craft of journalism, tells The Note that the word "snit" was introduced into the conversation by Ms. Becker herself. Dyke in fact suggested that snittiness would only come to those who read portions of the speech out of context, rather than the Texts in Full.
Dyke urges conservatives and reporters to read the texts in their entirety, after which, he says, he is quite confident that Miers' calling card of judicial restraint will be quite well appreciated.
Federalist Society big Leonard Leo gets his Wall Street Journal dot drawing today as part of a Jeanne Cummings look at how he is risking his credibility as a legal conservative to help Bush defuse criticism of Miers.
"Mark Smith, vice president of the New York Federalist Society chapter and a force in one anti-Miers group, Withdrawmiers.org, has suggested the society debate her nomination at its national convention in Washington early next month."
Rick Klein of the Boston Globe reports that as Senators of both parties work to uncover further background on Miers, the White House is changing its hard-lined language and searching for documents as well. Klein writes, there "appears to be a slight retreat from Monday, when Bush spoke of a 'red line' that he would not cross by releasing internal documents Miers wrote while working in his administration." LINK
The Nation's Newspaper gets Ken Duberstein's take on Miers' revised questionnaire, due to arrive on the Hill today: "You only get one do-over." LINK
The Washington Times has Sen. DeWine (R-OH) saying: "If I pick up one more paper and read about one more group that I've never heard of saying they're for Miers or against Miers -- it just doesn't matter at this point." LINK
Roll Call Notices that some of the Senate's newer Republicans, many of whom ran campaigns promising conservative jurists, have been quiet on the issue of Miers.
Holman Jenkins writes in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that Miers's tenure at the Texas Lottery Commission throws a "useful light on America's rush to embrace state-sponsored gambling."
The Los Angeles Times profiles Harriet Miers' judicial mentor, U.S. District Judge Joe Estes of Dallas, for whom Miers clerked. LINK
Guy Taylor of the Washington Times provides an in-depth look at Harriet Miers' background, including sock hops and law school. LINK
USA Today leads with the results of its new poll, which shows that the majority of Americans disapprove of President Bush and both parties in Congress. Writes Susan Page: "The public's sour outlook raises the prospect that the elections next year could be more problematic for incumbents than any since Republicans swept to control of Congress in 1994." While those polled seem to be generally disgusted with Congress, they did give Democrats higher marks than Republicans on every issue save terrorism. LINK
Senator Santorum take Note: the poll also say voters are more likely to support a candidate who opposes the President than one who supports him.
The Los Angeles Times' Ed Chen writes that despite the problems confronting the Administration, President Bush can still rally big donors. LINK
The Washington Post's Dana Milbank sketches the soiree in search of an occasion that the RNC sponsored last night: "Only the wine selection -- a pedestrian Clos du Bois -- hinted that these are not fat times." LINK
"If confirmed by the Senate," Ben Bernanke "will have to decide whether to continue the campaign of interest-rate increases his predecessor began," the Wall Street Journal's Greg Ip reports.
"As late as 2004," former FDA head "Lester Crawford or his wife owned stock in companies that make or distribute products regulated by the agency, a factor that may have led to his abrupt departure last month," the Wall Street Journal's Lueck and Mathews report.
The President's tax advisory panel "may make public its final written recommendations later this week, ahead of a November 1 deadline," Bloomberg's Ryan Donmoyer reports. LINK
Bloomberg's Brendan Murray contrasts Bush's judicial appointments with his economic appointments. LINK
"'They've been excellent appointments,' said Alice Rivlin, a Clinton administration appointee who served as Fed vice chairwoman from 1996 to 1999. 'These people are in the tradition of strong, well-qualified, non-ideological economists.'"
Big Casino budget politics:
Per the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman, "Republicans began targeting key programs for budget cuts yesterday, from student loans and health care to food stamps and foster care. But the tough measures immediately drew staunch opposition from anti-poverty groups, businesses and moderate Republicans." LINK
Per Roll Call, Democrats are ready to fight Republican budget cuts in the court of public opinion, hosting events in their districts that will highlight how the belt-tightening will affect the needy. Says one Democratic aide: it's the political "gift that keeps on giving."
The New Hampshire Union Leader reports that Sen. John Sununu is one of seven senators that figures a pre-emptive slash of $125 billion over the next two years could help readjust the post-hurricane season budgetary balance. LINK
The Hill reports that the reliably Republican big business constituency is not exactly lining up behind the GOP's proposed cuts. LINK
In an op-ed in The Washington Times, Robert Goldberg says that the Republican Party is on the verge of abandoning its commitment to controlling spending and free market principles. LINK
The New York Times writes that as GOP leaders called yesterday for oil companies to take steps to increase fuel supply and lower gas prices, House Republicans continued to find it difficult "to move forward with budget cuts they hoped to showcase as evidence of renewed commitment to smaller government." LINK
The Hill writes that Republicans plan to make drilling for oil in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge a selling point for their budget plan, in response to "internal GOP polling that shows voters care more about gas prices than caribou." LINK
The new judge in the DeLay case gave money to both Republicans and Democrats in the Lone Star State, reports The Hill. LINK
As mentioned above, John Kerry is scheduled to give a speech on Iraq this afternoon at Georgetown University. In remarks prepared for delivery obtained by The Note, Kerry will offer this comment on the CIA leak investigation: "We don't know yet whether this will prove to be an indictable offense in a court of law, but for it, and for misleading a nation into war, they will be indicted in the high court of history."
On Iraq policy, Kerry will argue that the United States is entering a make-or-break six month period in Iraq, and he will detail the steps he thinks the country must take to bring troops home within a reasonable timeframe from an Iraq that's not permanently torn by irrepressible conflict.
According to an aide, Kerry will make it clear that the way forward in Iraq is not to pull out precipitously or merely promise to stay "as long as it takes." To undermine the insurgency, Kerry will say that the United States must instead simultaneously pursue both a political settlement and the withdrawal of American combat forces linked to specific, responsible benchmarks.
At the first benchmark -- the completion of the December elections – Kerry believes the US can start the process of reducing our forces by withdrawing 20,000 troops over the course of the holidays.
Expect a very personal assessment of where the country currently finds itself with regards to Iraq and how it got to this moment, says the aide.
In an appearance before a group of alternative-energy backers, Sen. Hillary Clinton called for fees to be imposed on oil-industry profits. LINK
Sen. Clinton's call for an energy revolution was written up by ZP Energy. LINK
Cindy Sheehan has taken aim at Sen. Hillary Clinton, telling the Associated Press that antiwar activists should withhold support for New York's junior Senator over her Iraq war position. LINK
Jane Norman of the Des Moines Register writes up Gov. Tom Vilsack's (D-IA) moral opposition to Republican proposed Medicaid cuts. LINK
While Mayor Bloomberg dealt with criticism of questionable campaign tactics, Ferrer returned to his larger 2001 theme of "two New Yorks" yesterday, as he "worked to elevate his candidacy to a social cause" while acknowledging that defeat may be a potential outcome. LINK
The New Daily News wraps Ferrer's speech yesterday, saying that "While it's extremely unusual for a serious contender for any public office to acknowledge openly the possibility of defeat, Ferrer's supporters described the address as a candid and emotional appeal for his candidacy." LINK
As the rising cost of living and higher property taxes have put the squeeze on many Queens residents, the New York Times' Patrick D. Healy reports that some New Yorkers are "quietly seething at the incumbent," even if it may not help his challenger much. LINK
The New York Post reports that Bloomberg has turned to Magic Johnson to give his latest round of TV ads some additional, well, magic. LINK
The New York Observer asks Bloomberg: who's really in charge of Ground Zero? LINK
For the Washington Post's front page, Michael Shear and Robert Barnes report that the Republican candidate for governor of Virginia has decided not to attend President Bush's appearance in Norfolk on Friday. LINK
"The decision highlights some concerns among Virginia Republicans, who have watched nervously in recent weeks as Bush's popularity has waned and as scandals involving presidential aides and congressional leaders have dominated news coverage. Although it is unclear how the national political environment affects voters choosing who should lead their state, even small shifts are important in races that are as close as the Virginia contest."
Bloomberg's Stacie Babula looks at the mudslinging in the New Jersey governor's race and revels in the Notion that Corzine and Forrester both started out portraying themselves as "reformers who would change the state's rancid political climate." LINK
The Schwarzenegger Era:
Per the Los Angeles Times, "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is moving to rekindle his celebrity appeal and exploit the edge of incumbency while opponents in organized labor step up efforts to discredit him and his agenda" by using tightly staged television events "in settings that fit his strategy of portraying himself as an agent of the people." LINK
The Los Angeles Times on the Governor's taped forum for Spanish-language Univision, which critics denounced for lack of balance. LINK
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Gov. Schwarzenegger has turned to town hall events on local television stations to promote his special election agenda. LINK
The Hill takes Note of one-time Bush booster Senator Santorum's (R-PA) considerably cooler relationship with the White House these days. LINK
President Carter's eldest son Jack is "pretty sure" he will run against Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) for a Nevada Senate seat. LINK
The Washington Post's Matthew Mosk covers Lt. Gov. Michael Steele's (R) formal entry into the race to replace retiring Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-MD): "Steele delivered a rousing populist speech that never mentioned his Republican Party affiliation and appeared to take swipes at both parties, including the same Washington insiders who urged him to enter the race and financed his exploratory committee." LINK
The New York Post reports William Weld is in the New York gubernatorial race to stay, regardless of who else may challenge him in the primary, and plans to raise and spend $50 million over the course of the race. LINK
The Washington Times reports that the Senate will take up border security as its first major bill next year, including both guest-worker plans and a path to citizenship for illegal aliens. LINK
Samantha Levine of the Houston Chronicle covers a Sens. Frist, McCain, and Cornyn presser where the Senators laid out a "blueprint" for changing immigration reform after recess. LINK
Roll Call's Whittington offers a preview of the potentially bruising Democratic primary race between Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett, both gunning for a chance to run against Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH).
John Dingell: 50 Years and Counting:
At 6:30 pm ET, some of the biggest names in Washington will come together at the National Building Museum for "50 Years and Counting," a bipartisan tribute to Congressman John Dingell's (D-MI) half century of service.
Dingell will officially mark 50 years in the House of Representatives on December 13, 2005, making him the third longest serving House member in U.S. history.
Confirmed speakers for the program include Vice President Dick Cheney, former President Bill Clinton, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI), Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), and Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX). Over 1,000 people are expected to attend.
The Note recently caught up with Dingell for a Q&A. The Michigan Democrat talked about his days playing bipartisan paddleball, what Bill and Hillary Clinton did wrong on health care, his concerns about the situation in Iraq spiraling into World War III, and the persistence that paid off with Debbie Dingell.
TN: "You've written in Roll Call that in the old days, the parties got along better. You even used to play paddle ball with an Illinois lawmaker named Don Rumsfeld."
DINGELL: "And also George Herbert Walker Bush."
THE NOTE: "What happened? Why do you think Washington is more negative and divisive today?"
DINGELL: "A series of things happened. The fact that members ceased staying around Washington and began to commute back and forth between their districts and the Capitol so that the sessions only really occurred on three days meant there was no time to work together and get to know each other. . . . Also, the reluctance on the part of the majority to work with the minority. The new class that came in here in 1994 to 'remake the world' made a determination that legislation would be passed on the far right not in the center. Congress had always worked to pass legislation in the middle. . ."
THE NOTE: "Would Bill and Hillary Clinton have been successful at achieving national health insurance if they had pursued a single-payer model?"
DINGELL: "I think it had less to do with what they were trying to do than with how they proceeded. The Clintons could have gotten a bill through if they had introduced a bill when he did the State of the Union. What they did was draft over a long period of time, making compromises with themselves. That's something they thought should be done. By the time they got around to moving legislation . . . the insurance lobby and the pharmaceutical lobby had spent $500 million to beat them. . . . They never were able to answer the questions and the doubts people had."
THE NOTE: "If a Democrat is elected president in 2008 and wants to try again, what advice would you give him -- or her?"
DINGELL: "Well, number one, make it an issue in the campaign. Point out that this country is going broke. American industry cannot afford it. Forty million people have no health insurance and that number is going to grow significantly as companies remove legacy costs from retirees and active workers. An automobile made in Canada costs $4 less per hour than an automobile made in the United States. You ask: 'why?' The answer is simple: the Canadian heath care system gives that kind of advantage. I remind you: we are the only industrialized country in the world that doesn't have national health insurance. If the President would move speedily on it after getting elected, that would give us a really good chance. Not only do ordinary citizens want it but industry does, too."
THE NOTE: "Retired Gen. Odom has said the longer we stay in Iraq, the worse it gets. As someone who voted against the war, do you agree? And if so, is it time to get out?"
DINGELL: "Well, remember I voted for going into rescue Kuwait from the Iraqis. I voted against going into Iraq. Having said those things: is it time to pull out? It is time for the President to present a plan that will work -- clearly his plan is not working at this time: hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent over there. Thousands of Americans are dead. A hundred thousand Iraqis are dead. . . It is becoming a terrorist training ground . . . But I'm not sure that we can get out. . . If we don't come up with a way of addressing this, we're going to destabilize the Middle East and sow the seeds of World War III. And it's going to have a tremendous economic impact. There would be a loss of energy sources upon which we are now dependent."
THE NOTE: "Why do you think that the war in Iraq might lead to World War III?"
DINGELL: "I can't prophesize that. What I can tell you is that World War I started in a little place called Sarajevo. World War II started when the Germans invaded Poland -- it was really just a continuation of World War I. . . Some Arab extremist group can take over a country -- drop a dirty bomb. Terrible trouble."
THE NOTE: "What do the Democrats need to do in 2006 to recapture Congress?"
DINGELL: "Let the people know what George W. Bush is doing to the country. . . George W. Bush has brought us the most intolerable international situation. He's doing nothing to resolve the troubles in the Middle East. He's involved us in a war. This is caused in caused in good part by intellectual laziness. He sold an attack on Iraq on the theory that there were weapons of mass destruction and that there were ties to terrorist organizations -- neither of which was true. Show what they are trying to do to Social Security. . . Show that they are hostile to Medicare. . . George W. Bush came in with a $2 trillion surplus. We now have a $7 trillion deficit. . . This is the worst and most incompetent administration since Coolidge."
THE NOTE: "Why did President Bush recently call you the 'biggest pain in the ass'?"
DINGELL: "I was very flattered about that. Ask him. He said it because I not infrequently oppose him on matters of importance to him. By the way, I like President Bush. I think he is a nice man. I just think he is a terribly bad president."
THE NOTE: "Your wife recently that you asked her out 14 or 15 times before she finally said yes, how did you finally overcome her reluctance to date you?"
DINGELL: "Persistence. I recommend it to anyone who is chasing a pretty girl. Let me say one more thing: the wife that I got with that persistence is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me. I love her more than life itself. I love her and what she does."