WASHINGTON, Nov. 2
For the record, The Note trusts both Bill Frist and Harry Reid.
Also, The Note, like David Addington, believes in the primacy of the co-equal executive branch (and, like Addington, The Note rides the subway to work).
And, finally, The Note normally likes to leave analysis of the business of the Senate to Roll Call (and to the Roll Call refugee alums now liberally sprinkled throughout the media).
But we have to briefly take up yesterday afternoon's Senate tussle over Iraq pre-war intelligence for two reasons.
First, if the "tone" in the Senate is not "changed," getting the people's business done on Alito, immigration, the budget, tax reform, avian flu, and everything else will be very tough. For heaven's sake -- it could even destroy the comity of tomorrow's Gang of 14 meeting (which would devastate the crustless-sandwich sensibilities of the Gang of 500).
Second, The Note likes nothing more than when both parties simultaneously (a) think they have the upper hand; (b) accuse the other party of heading down a dangerous, self-destructive path; and (c) accuse the other party of playing only to its base without regard to where the country really is.
Looking at the coverage, we have no clue who won yesterday. And we have no clue what happens next. We know the White House can't be happy about the Frist-Reid breakdown. And we know that at least the Democratic base seems pretty happy about it.
Beyond that -- we don't know much of anything.
Check out the parallel universe recaps of two key players:
Says a Republican leadership aide, when asked if Frist and Reid had talked about all this:
"I don't know if they've spoken -- I think not -- except for on the floor during the closed session…. We're agreeing to do what we're already doing -- but Democrats needed to spin a victory. . . . The comity in the Senate is severely strained -- because of these stunts. It also blows a hole through their argument about the nuclear option and comity/traditions of the Senate. If/when they are in the majority in the future all of this will come back to haunt them. Also lots of people wondering about the Democrat leadership control of their caucus.... Did they need to change the subject because they can't decide what to do on Alito? Are they ever going to move past base politics?"
A Democratic aide says:
"Frist can't take a punch. Republicans prove [they have a] glass jaw. Republicans cave quickly and agree to time certain for long-awaited intelligence investigation. No one knows Senate rules better than Reid. Frist not honest when he says he and Reid hadn't discussed phase 2 of promised investigation. [There's a] paper trail today documenting repeated requests and in-person meetings. They stiff-armed us. Dr. Frist and Senator Reid spoke on floor since, but not at length. That'll come today."
Those talks are expected to yield details of how a panel of six Senators will report back by November 14th on moving forward.
The Senate reconvened in open session at 8:30 am ET, when it resumed consideration of S.1932, the Deficit Reduction bill. Time expires on the bill at approximately 6 pm ET. The Majority Leader has announced that the Senate may take up and vote on the Agriculture Conference Report this evening.
Judge Alito's Senate meeting schedule for today:
9:15 am ET: Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE)
10:30 am ET: Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
11:45 am ET: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
1:30 pm ET: Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL)
2:45 pm ET: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
4:00 pm ET: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
President Bush's public schedule is currently devoid of any news making opportunity. It's all about the visiting Royals. At noon ET, President and Mrs. Bush will greet the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at a South Lawn arrival ceremony.
America's First Couple will host a "social dinner" for the Royal Couple and roughly 130 other guests in the State Dining Room at 7:30 pm ET. Mrs. Bush will travel with the Royal Couple to the SEED School of Washington, DC this afternoon. We are still waiting to hear FLOTUS on Alito.
ABC News' Ann Compton reports, "President Bush will serve buffalo to the Royal Couple tonight. And the brand new White House chef is making orchids of sugar to top the dessert."
The House Republican Conference is going to head across the street to the Library of Congress for a retreat of sorts in a leadership effort to hammer out their agenda for the rest of the year, specifically getting an overwhelming majority of the conference on board with additional budget cuts to help offset the costs of hurricane relief. The retreat is scheduled to take place from 9:00 am -- 1:00 pm ET.
White House National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley will hold an on camera 2:45 pm ET press briefing on the President's upcoming trip to Latin America.
The Supreme Court of the United States meets for oral arguments at 10:00 am ET. Former President Bill Clinton will speak at Rosa Parks' funeral today in Detroit, MI scheduled to begin at 11:00 am ET. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) will also be in attendance. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) will also be one of the eulogizers this morning and is expected to say of Ms. Parks, "she sat down so we could stand up, but not so we could stand still."
Sen. McCain (R-AZ) focuses his committee spotlight back on lobbying efforts on behalf of Native American tribes. The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will hold his oversight hearing at 9:30 am ET. Today's star witness is likely to be J. Steven Griles, the former Deputy Secretary of the Interior.
Sens. Durbin (D-IL), Conrad (D-ND), and Baucus (D-MT) will criticize what they see as misplaced priorities in the budget at an 11:45 am ET press conference.
Sens. Bill Frist (R-TN), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and John Warner (R-VA) hold a press conference at 12:30 pm ET to highlight the inclusion of "SMART" grants in the Senate budget reconciliation bill.
Reps. Bob Ney (R-OH) and William Clay (D-MO) host the first "Bipartisan Working Group on Disaster Recovery and Response" forum at 8:30 am ET.
Sens. Kennedy (D-MA) and DeWine (R-OH) hold an 11:00 am ET press conference on their legislation called "The CLASS (Community Living Assistance Services and Supports) Act of 2005."
At 11:30 am ET, Attorney General Gonzales gives the keynote speech at the Latino Leaders Luncheon Series in Washington, DC.
Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani will address the Management Institute at the University of Richmond and FORTUNE Magazine's 11th annual Worldwide Luminary Series at 10:45 am ET in Richmond, VA.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine will receive former Governor (and current Richmond Mayor) Doug Wilder's endorsement at 10:30 am ET at Jefferson Hill Park in Richmond, VA.
Virginia's Republican gubernatorial candidate, Mr. Kilgore, talks up the state gas tax in Richmond and Norfolk, VA today and rallies with veterans at 6:00 pm ET in Arlington, VA.
RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman heads to the Fairfax County Republican Party headquarters tonight, where some phone banking will be underway. Mehlman is expected to deliver remarks, meet volunteers, and thank them for their help.
Sen. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) has 10 events on his public schedule today mostly focusing on senior citizens. He ends his day with two rallies featuring President Bill Clinton in Newark and Jersey City, NJ.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Forrester has seven public stops including commuter meet and greets, a diner visit, and a press conference in Morristown, NJ at 2:00 pm ET.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R-NYC) rallies to get out the vote with DC37 supporters at 5:30 pm ET in Manhattan.
Fernando Ferrer (D-NYC) will hold a campaign rally with DNC Chairman Gov. Howard Dean at 2:30 pm ET in Manhattan.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) rides his campaign bus from Sherman Oaks, CA to Long Beach, CA to highlight what he sees as the effects of underfunding roads and infrastructure in his push for voters to pass Proposition 76.
Senate: War on the Floor:
The Washington Post's Charles Babington and Dafna Linzner eschew the "war of words" formulation and characterize yesterday's developments as a "rare victory for Democrats in the GOP-controlled Congress." LINK
The Washington Post's Dana Milbank sketches an outraged heart surgeon, a Republican Party that knew that it had been "licked," and a Democratic leadership aide saying, "Alito had his day. We're going back to our story." LINK
Roll Call writes that yesterday's surprise move by Senator Reid to close the chamber has raised partisan tensions to the breaking point. "Civility is gone," said Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC).
The New York Times reports on the "escalation of partisan tensions" in the Senate yesterday, as Reid and other Democrats forced a closed session over the Administration's "use of intelligence to justify the Iraq war and the Senate's willingness to examine it." LINK
The Los Angeles Times wraps the surprise closed-door debate, "signaling a new determination to challenge President Bush and triggering a bitter fight with Republicans." LINK
Under a headline that reads, "Clouds clear quickly for Bush," The Washington Times' Sammon reports that things are looking up for the Bush Administration. LINK
"'This has been a good week,' a senior White House official said. 'Everybody was shrieking about how terrible the president was doing and yet already, through the clouds, you begin to see the remedy take shape.'"
Former Reagan Chief of Staff Ken Duberstein writes in the New York Times that the President should take a few lessons from the Reagan playbook to change his presidential momentum. His suggestions: bring in new blood, stop the infighting, find some victories on Capitol Hill, and lose the bunker mentality. LINK
The New York Times covers the President's request for $7.1 billion to prepare the nation for a flu epidemic through more research and a creating a stockpile of vaccines. LINK
The Washington Post's David Brown on Bush's pandemic prep: LINK
On the other hand, the Washington Post's Jeffrey Birnbaum reports that tax experts and other analysts give the tax overhaul proposals unveiled yesterday a "decent chance despite its many vocal opponents" since the President might want to champion a new domestic initiative now that his approval ratings have dropped "significantly." LINK
The Wall Street Journal's ed board is disappointed that the President's tax reform panel "didn't go far enough in lowering rates to attract enough public support," but gives the report an overall thumbs up.
R. Glenn Hubbard calls on the President to make a convincing explanation of the centrality of tax reform in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
The New York Times says the President may receive a less-than-warm welcome on his visit to Latin America this week. LINK
Alito: confirmation prospects:
The Wall Street Journal's Jeanne Cummings reports that even if Reid wanted to filibuster Alito, it is "not at all certain that he could succeed." She Notes that any filibuster would require the support of the so-far non-committal seven Democrats who joined the Gang of 14 in the spring. LINK
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NB) says the Gang of 14 plans to meet tomorrow to "check in" on the status of the nomination: "'I have not heard any of my Democratic colleagues in the Gang of 14 talk of using the F-word -- filibuster,' Mr. Nelson said, adding that he hoped that the coalition ends up playing no role in the Alito nomination. 'We would hope that the process would work without requiring anything from us.'"
The Washington Post's Peter Baker and Charles Babington cover the White House effort to forestall a filibuster by offering unsolicited Alito courtesy calls to three Red State Democrats: Sens. Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. LINK
(Alito met with Johnson yesterday. Alito meets with Nelson today and Pryor tomorrow).
The Los Angeles Times also looks at the efforts to woo moderate Senate Democrats, with Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) at the top of the meet-and-greet list yesterday. LINK
Many Gang of 14 members have remained guarded about prospects of a filibuster, but Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) offers this: "What we may face is a divisive, bitter debate."
Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times writes up the "aggressive campaign" by the White House to sell Alito to the Senate and the American public, including a better planned campaign to reach the base early. LINK
And Steve Schmidt tries to calm the waters: "There were a lot of predictions of political Armageddon in the early days of the Roberts nomination that never came to pass… The expectation from the White House is that this will be a dignified process, just like the Roberts process was."
The Los Angeles Times says that Alito has some unexpected liberal supporters in former colleagues and clerks who say he is neither an ideologue or a judge with an agenda. LINK
Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution tells Newsday, "If Frist decides to detonate the nuclear option on judicial nominations, he can expect continuous disruption of the Senate and a major battle carried to the American public." LINK
The New York Observer's tireless Ben Smith writes about how Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) became the Democrats' unofficial mouthpiece on judicial nominees. (And don't miss Schumer's musings on the Warren Court.) LINK
With her letter to the editor of the New York Times, former New Jersey AUSA Jo Anne Chernev Adlerstein may have scored herself an appearance in an upcoming RNC press release hitting inboxes near you soon. LINK
Enough with this "Scalito" business already, says Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). Per Roll Call, Lautenberg and his Italian-American constituents say the nickname is offensive.
Former Gov. Mario Cuomo tells the New York Post, "I hope, as a Democrat, that was put out just out of clumsiness," in response to the DNC's oppo on Alito that referenced a mob case. LINK
USA Today talks to Alito's friend Mark Dwyer, who says during their time at Yale Law School, the men found themselves attracted to "the idea that if the legislature didn't say it and there isn't a judicial precedent, [a judge] can't go very far." And word from the man himself: in response to a friend's email about the upcoming hearings, Alito wrote, "it's going to be interesting." LINK
Alito: editorials and commentary:
Dean Broder writes that the selection by "President Pushover" of Judge Alito looks like a "lunge for the lifeboat by an embattled president" eager to secure "what is left of his political base." LINK
As a test of where you stand on the great divides of American politics, go sentence by sentence through Dean Broder's piece and ask yourself where you agree and where you don't.
The Washington Post's David Ignatius sees the rise of the Republican "A students" like Alito as evidence that "we are living in the post-Reagan era" and that the "outsiders of old are insiders; the conservatives are credentialed and networked." LINK
The Boston Globe dives back to Alito's Princeton days, pulling manuscripts written in 1971 where Alito backs privacy and gay rights. LINK
Alito: the interest groups:
In an interview with The Washington Times, Bruce S. Gordon, president of the NAACP, says he's concerned about the nomination of Alito, but that the group is holding off on passing any judgment -- for now. LINK
Rick Klein of the Boston Globe reports that liberal groups are gearing up for their campaign against the Alito nomination. LINK
Alito: legal analysis:
Joan Biskupic of USA Today compares Alito's record to Justice O'Connor's, highlighting his rulings on three specific sex-discrimination cases. LINK
Adam Liptak of the New York Times examines the 15 cases decided by Alito involving abortion, saying "his thinking is shaped by a traditional concept of marriage."
The Supreme Court may hear a case on prisoner rights that Alito ruled on this year, per the New York Times. LINK
Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe reports on Alito's past decisions to both respect and sometimes ignore precedent. LINK
Charles Lane writes that Alito's reasoning points to a likely vote against Roe v. Wade in a Washington Post analysis likely to be used in ads paid for by groups that support abortion rights. LINK
The Fitzgerald investigation:>
The New York Times profiles the Vice President's new chief of staff, "bureaucratic master" David Addington. LINK
The politics of national security:
The Washington Post's Dana Priest gets four columns across the top of the Washington Post to report that the CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a "Soviet-era compound" in Eastern Europe. LINK
White House and Pentagon officials are "embroiled in a sharp internal debate" over whether a new set of Defense Department standards for handling terrorism suspects should use language from the Geneva Conventions prohibiting "cruel," "humiliating," and "degrading" treatment, per the New York Times. LINK
"A central player in the fight over the directive is David S. Addington, who was the vice president's counsel until he was named on Monday to succeed I. Lewis Libby Jr. as Mr. Cheney's chief of staff. According to several officials, Mr. Addington verbally assailed a Pentagon aide who was called to brief him and Mr. Libby on the draft, objecting to its use of language drawn from Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions."
After 10 months on the job, Howard Dean's chairmanship is slowly gaining support among Congressional Democrats, writes Roll Call in a clip the DNC press shop will point to every time other Democrats complain about his party stewardship.
The Wall Street Journal's Greg Ip reports that the Fed raised rates yesterday and signaled additional increases to come.
Big Casino budget politics:
Bloomberg's Laura Litvan reports that Bush will be urged by his aides to veto a $39 billion spending-cut measure in the Senate if a final version includes key changes in the Medicare prescription drug law. LINK
But Jill Gerber, a spokeswoman for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) said Senate GOPers think they can overcome the threat of a veto in a final bill.
"'It doesn't seem the administration's statement will hurt the bill's chances in the Senate,' Gerber said in an e-mail. 'We haven't seen enormous sentiment in the Senate for keeping the Medicare stabilization fund.'"
Unsure exactly what budget wonks mean when they use the term "reconciliation?" You're not alone. More than 100 Hill staffers showed up for an explainer on the upcoming process, reports Roll Call.
Ian Bishop of the New York Post has this excellent scooplet: LINK
"Ohio's biggest Democratic money maven from 2004 is throwing her financial support behind Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton -- a huge score for the former first lady in a crucial presidential swing state," reports Bishop.
"Clinton has locked up the services of Lana Moresky -- a fund-raising queen who raised more than $500,000 in Ohio for failed president wannabe John Kerry."
All for 2006 -- Senator Clinton's team points out.
The results are in and the polling in New Mexico shows that over half of registered voters approve of the job Gov. Bill Richardson has done in office, per the Santa Fe New Mexican. LINK
In response to President Bush's request that states should purchase of anti-flu drugs with their own money, Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) responded , "They expect us to pay 75 cents on a dollar for flu medicine that's going to be a tough pill to swallow." LINK
Rep. DeLay's legal team wins its request for a new judge in their case. LINK
The case is bringing scrutiny to how Texas judges are elected and appointed, reports the Houston Chronicle. LINK
The Chronicle also looks at DeLay's legal defense fund: LINK
The Washington Post's Sylvia Moreno reports that DeLay "won an early round in his money-laundering and conspiracy trial Tuesday by getting a judge aligned with Democratic candidates and causes removed from the case." LINK
The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman reports in a must-read piece that Congressman Tom DeLay's (R-TX) efforts to retain power despite hid indictment have "angered some rank-and-file Republicans, many of whom say his ethical problems and uncertain status are staining them and destabilizing GOP unity." LINK
"'My issue is having an indicted former leader hanging around the leadership offices,' said one House Republican, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of DeLay's remaining authority. 'This guy did so much good work getting us into the majority. Why does he want to stick around? He's not helping us.'"
"Countering those are DeLay's ardent House supporters, dozens of whom now sport hammer-shaped lapel pins evoking DeLay's nickname, 'The Hammer,' to proclaim their allegiance."
According to the New York Times, investigators in the Jack Abramoff case have expanded their inquiries into the activities of the lobbyist to include his efforts to pressure senior Interior Department officials on behalf of Indian tribes with gambling interests. A Senate panel plans a hearing on the investigation today. LINK
The Wall Street Journal's Brody Mullins curtain raises today's Senate hearing into whether Abramoff sought to influence Interior Secretary Gale Norton by directing one of his clients to donate money to a nonprofit group Norton founded before joining the Bush Administration. LINK
Note that the group in question -- the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy -- once launched a pricey campaign to defeat legislation offered by McCain to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses.
The piece includes photos of Rep. Tom DeLay, Rep. Bob Ney, Grover Norquist, and Ralph Reed under a "Capital Connections" header.
Patrick D. Healy of the New York Times turns in a colorful rundown of the escalating attacks in last night's final mayoral debate, writing that Mayor Bloomberg was "far more assertive" than in the first debate, while Ferrer was "equally ferocious" in response. Up to this point, "Mr. Bloomberg has regarded his challenger as the political equivalent of the flu (which was briefly discussed last night), recognizing the potential threat but ignoring and avoiding it as much as possible." LINK
The New York Daily News writes that Bloomberg took a more aggressive posture in the last night's debate. LINK
The New York Times has more on the ad wars in the New York mayoral race, as Bloomberg decides to get personal. LINK
Jason Horowitz of the New York Observer writes on why he thinks liberal New Yorkers will vote on competence, not ideology, in this year's mayoral race. LINK
USA Today on Mayor Bloomberg's enormous lead, massive spending, and political history. LINK
The New York Times takes a thorough look at Sen. Jon Corzine's political path to running for New Jersey governor, Noting that "he has a reputation for making fearless and sometimes ill-considered moves." LINK
With less than a week to go until the Commonwealth of Virginia chooses a successor to Gov. Mark Warner (D), Jerry Kilgore's tenacity and luck get the A1 treatment in the Washington Post. LINK
The Schwarzenegger Era:
A new Los Angeles Times poll says voters oppose three of Gov. Schwarzenegger's major ballot proposals, while his approval rating has slipped to 40 percent.
"Like President Bush, another Republican with scant support beyond his party base, Schwarzenegger has polarized Californians, the poll found, with voters split starkly along party and ideological lines. Across the voter spectrum, his ratings are roughly in sync with Bush's." LINK
Republican state senator Tom Kean Jr. will begin his campaign for Sen. Jon Corzine's (D-NJ) seat the day following the gubernatorial election, reports The Hill. LINK