The Note: Membership Has Its Privileges, Part III



11 simple steps to be an honorary member of the Gang of 500 for the next 2 hours:

1. Read the day's only must-read newspaper story -- the Washington Post's blind-quote-laden piece on Karl Rove's future at the White House, and say in each of your next three meetings "It's SO obvious who those quotes are from," with a small shake of the head and a knowing half smile. LINK

2. Then, in the next breath, dismiss the seemingly juicy story by saying that the only people who "know" the real deal are the President and Karl C. Rove and they do not dish even to "Diamond Jim." (And, yes, Gang membership requires that you refer to Jim VandeHei that way.)

3. Announce to anyone who will listen: "Nothing will really happen at Scooter's arraignment."

4. Offer to go over to the Washington Post newsroom and show David Broder where to find Peggy Noonan's column on

5. Be able to describe the innermost thoughts of all 54 other Republican Senators about what they think of Dr./Sen./Leader Frist's Tuesday emotional showing.

6. Know that Andy Card and Dan Bartlett are not on the President's trip to Latin America.

7. Opine about the ramifications of "the bubble" being in Latin America for the next dozen news cycles.

8. Be able to explain why the White House and congressional Republicans are so certain that Democrats can't come up with a version of a Contract with America that will be effective in 2006, and describe the role American attitudes towards bigger government and higher taxes play in their certainty.

9. Be able to explain why the anti-gay right is as willing to pshaw Judge Alito's college essay on the right to sodomy as they were Judge Robert's pro bono work on behalf of gay rights aspirations, and be able to anticipate exactly what Steve Schmidt will say in response to anything controversial that comes up in Alito's record (We saw "an academic exercise" and "Judge Alito is proud to have served his country in the US Army Reserves" from miles away.)

10. Know that Bartlett yesterday afternoon became the highest level Administration official to take questions about Libby, and have thoughts about why he did so, and why now, during his Pebble Beach round of Cavuto, Sit Room, and Hardball.

11. Know what three flags were flying outside the Alito home yesterday, per the Los Angeles Times.

ABC News' Jason Ryan reports, "Scooter Libby is expected to make his first post-indictment public appearance at the DC District Court for his arraignment before Judge Reggie Walton. The 10:30am arraignment, where Libby will enter his plea, will be held in the Ceremonial Courtroom on the 6th floor of the courthouse."

"Given the media attention Court officials decided to move this to a larger courtroom since it seats approximately 150 people. We believe that Libby will have to use one of the public entrances to the courthouses despite his crutches."

"A Justice Department source said that Judge Walton is known by the nickname 'Long Ball Walton since he seems to like going for prison sentences that are as long as possible. His bio can be found here: LINK

"Libby will be likely booked after the hearing. The arraignment could last up to 30 minutes depending if the judge wants to set a calendar for motions at this time."

"The US Marshals Service does not release booking photos in Washington DC unless the defendant becomes a fugitive."

President and Mrs. Bush departed the White House at 7:30 am ET for their trip to South America. Karl Rove was not seen boarding Marine One on the South Lawn and it was still unclear to the press corps if he was on board Air Force One at the time of departure.

President and Mrs. Bush are expected to arrive in Argentina shortly after 6:00 pm ET with no public events planned for the rest of the day.

(President Bush 41 was kind enough to wave them off this morning from a White House balcony overlooking the South Lawn.)

After 5:00 pm ET, you will want to check out to see the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll results on President Bush's standing with the American people.

Trying to get some play in the political story of the day, Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid and Sen. Chuck Schumer will take to the Senate press gallery at 11:00 am ET to release a letter they are sending to Vice President Cheney calling on him to make "significant staff changes." The New York Daily News has a preview: LINK

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds her weekly press conference at 10:45 am ET.

As for the Alito nomination, the Gang of 14 met this morning at 8:45 am ET to assess where it stands on Judge Alito and whether or not he is deemed an "extraordinary circumstance" at this time.

Judge Alito's scheduled meetings with Senators today is tentative due to votes, but he is expected to meet with Sens. Chaffee (R-RI), Byrd (D-WV), Cornyn (R-TX), Pryor (D-AR), and McCain (R-AZ) at various times throughout the day.

Several Democratic women House members hold a 2:00 pm ET press conference on the steps of the Supreme Court to express "deep concern" over the Alito nomination which they will cast as a threat to women's rights.

When the Senate convenes this morning it will immediately hold a vote on passage of the Agriculture Appropriations Conference Report.

Following that vote, the Senate will resume consideration of S. 1932, the Deficit Reduction bill. The Senate will hold back-to-back roll call votes on approximately 17 amendments prior to a vote on passage.

Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) delivers a speech at the Heritage Foundation at 1:00 pm ET advocating fiscal discipline and government accountability.

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan provides his economic outlook to the House of Representatives at 10:00 am ET.

Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) will host a conference call for reporters, focusing on the future of economic development in Iowa at 11:00 am ET.

At 6:30 pm ET, Gov. Warner (D-VA) will be honored at the annual Edmund S. Muskie Distinguished Public Service Award Dinner hosted by the Center for National Policy. Sen. McCain will be honored at the event as well and both potential 2008 hopefuls will deliver remarks.

Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) holds a 4:30 pm ET news conference to announce his appointment of a new State Treasurer.

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) is introducing legislation to erect a statue of Rosa Parks and to place it in the U.S. Capitol in National Statuary Hall. The Parks statue would be the first statue of a woman ever placed in Statuary Hall. Kerry's bill will be co-sponsored by Sens. Obama, Levin, Stabenow, and Kennedy.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R-NYC) will begin to deliver his closing arguments to New Yorkers at a campaign speech set to take place at City College at noon ET.

Fernando Ferrer (D-NYC) does some meeting and greeting today and holds an 11:30 am ET policy announcement in Manhattan.

Former Sen. Max Cleland will rally with Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA) at 4:30 pm ET in Charlottesville, VA.

Former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore (R-VA) holds five campaign rallies across the Commonwealth today. He begins his day in Roanoke and concludes in Fredericksburg, VA.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Forrester holds a 10:00 am ET press conference in Bringatine and a noon ET press conference in Egg Harbor Township, NJ.

Sen. Corzine (D-NJ), former Sen. Bill Bradley, and Gov. Codey "shoot hoops" at 4:30 pm ET outside Livingston High School in Livingston, NJ.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) campaigns in San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Luis Obispo, CA today.

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman keynotes at the 15th Annual Red, White, and Blue Dinner for the Maryland Republican Party in Baltimore, MD this evening.

The Fitzgerald investigation:

The Washington Post's Jim VandeHei and Carol Leonnig use blind quotes from Republicans to put together the most provocative political story of the day. LINK

"Top White House aides are privately discussing the future of Karl Rove, with some expressing doubt that President Bush can move beyond the damaging CIA leak case as long as his closest political strategist remains in the Administration."

"If Rove stays, which colleagues say remains his intention, he may at a minimum have to issue a formal apology for misleading colleagues and the public about his role in conversations that led to the unmasking of CIA operative Valerie Plame, according to senior Republican sources familiar with White House deliberations."

"'Karl does not have any real enemies in the White House, but there are a lot of people in the White House wondering how they can put this behind them if the cloud remains over Karl,' said a GOP strategist who has discussed the issue with top White House officials. 'You can not have that [fresh] start as long as Karl is there.'"

Scott McClellan is described by a Republican who has spoken about this issue with the White House as "really beaten down" as a result of having told reporters that Rove was not involved in the leak.

The Washington Post duo also report that there are "new indications" that Rove remains in "legal jeopardy."

"The prosecutor spoke this week with an attorney for Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper about his client's conversations with Rove before and after Plame's identity became publicly known because of anonymous disclosures by White House officials, according to two sources familiar with the conversation."

Richard Stevenson of the New York Times looks at the problems facing Scott McClellan in the White House briefing room in the wake of the Fitzgerald investigation and suggests McClellan's problems are symptomatic of "a broader issue that has left the entire White House off balance as the leak investigation has progressed." LINK

"The case is almost never discussed openly among senior officials. Those who have been questioned by the prosecutor have apparently not shared their testimony with others, leaving senior officials guessing at where the case is heading."

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Victoria Toensing, a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Reagan administration and former chief counsel for the Senate Intelligence Committee writes that Congress should investigate the CIA for not doing a better job to protect Plame's cover.

Alito: confirmation prospects:

David Kirkpatrick in the New York Times has a wrap on Wednesday's Democratic reaction to the Alito nomination, which ranged from Sen. Ben Nelson's cautious optimism to Sen. Pat Leahy's "sharply critical" words about the nominee. LINK

Alito: politics:

From ABC News polling director Gary Langer on the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll: "Forty-nine percent say the U.S. Senate should confirm Samuel Alito, far more than oppose him, but lower than the initial support for newly installed Chief Justice John Roberts."

"Alito may be feeling a spillover effect from George W. Bush's popularity problems and the derailed nomination of Harriet Miers. Still, just 29 percent oppose Alito's nomination, with 22 percent waiting to hear more."

"In another sign of his comparatively soft start, 44 percent of Americans see Alito as "about right" ideologically, 14 points fewer than said the same of Roberts shortly after his initial nomination as an associate justice. More instead are withholding judgment on Alito."

The Los Angeles Times Alito bio piece follows yesterday's Boston Globe reporting on his Princeton-days views on the "boundaries of privacy." LINK

A companion piece examines the report by the student conference, written by Alito, in further detail:

"'The conference believes that no private sexual act between consenting adults should be forbidden. Of course, acts of a coercive nature, acts involving minors and acts which offend public decency should still be banned. Discrimination against homosexuals in hiring should be forbidden.'"

It is not clear that young Alito endorsed each of the recommendations, but his report says in its first sentence that the student conference 'agrees unanimously' that privacy is a 'value of fundamental importance.'" LINK

The Washington Post's Goldstein and Becker report that Alito's record on gender bias, sexual harassment, age discrimination, disability rights, and voting rights is emerging as a "significant cleavage point" between his supporters on the right and his detractors on the left. LINK

Deb Orin writes in her New York Post column that Democrats have developed "cold feet" about making abortion the focus of a potential fight against Judge Alito. LINK

Paul Kane reports in Roll Call that the conservative group Progress for America will expand its ad campaign today to include Nebraska and Arkansas, states represented by Democratic senators Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), all of whom supported Roberts and have not yet said where they stand on Alito.

Peter Savodnik reports in The Hill that Republican Nebraska Senate candidate Don Stenberg warned that Sen. Ben Nelson's (D-Neb.) vote on Alito will be an election issue. LINK

Kathy Kiely of the Nation's Newspaper looks at whether DeWine and Graham will be the first to defect from the Gang of 14. Fellow Gang member McCain acknowledged that DeWine's tough re-election race raises the stakes for him. "Mike DeWine is in a very tough political situation. We all know that." LINK

It's not the Miers/Warren kerfuffle, but Judge Alito is raising eyebrows after he told Sen. Dick Durbin one of his four favorite Supreme Court justices is liberal icon William J. Brennan, reports Todd Purdum in the New York Times. LINK

Per Bloomberg News, U.S. business groups, already delighted by John Roberts, anticipate getting another ally in Alito. LINK

Senate Democrats will seek to derail Alito's nomination by portraying him as a divisive jurist who would roll back a range of individual liberties, not just abortion rights, Bloomberg's James Rowley reports. LINK

Alito: investigative:

Alito joined the ROTC while at Princeton, the Washington Post and others report. LINK

Alito: legal analysis:

The New York Times takes a close look at Judge Alito's dissenting opinions from his years on the Third Circuit. The Times' conclusion: Mostly, Alito's dissents defer to the judgment of the government, corporations, juries, and lawmakers, rather than private individuals. LINK

Senate: War on the Floor:

Tuesday's showdown was just the first step in a larger effort by Democrats to reset the agenda, writes Carl Hulse in the New York Times. But Republicans aren't scared -- Speaker Hastert, reports Hulse, told the House G.O.P. yesterday in a closed-door session that "as tough as things seem, it is much better to be us than them." LINK

ABC News' Linda Douglass reports, "An aide to a Republican Senator tells ABC News his boss thought Frist blew it Tuesday when reacting to the Democratic shutdown of the Senate. The aide said by rushing to the microphones and blowing his top, he 'turned a page A6 story into a front page story.'"

Douglass goes on to report hearing similar grumbling from other Republican aides. "They say that Frist's actions elevated what would have otherwise been dismissed as a stunt. And they say it opened the door for Democrats to refocus attention on the Administration's handling of pre-war intelligence."

The Wall Street Journal's ed board labels the opposition party the "Clare Luce Democrats" and opines that if Bush "lied us into war," so did the Democrats.

"The scandal here isn't what happened before the war. The scandal is that the same Democrats who saw the same intelligence that Mr. Bush saw, who drew the same conclusions, and who voted to go to war are now using the difficulties we've encountered in that conflict as an excuse to rewrite history. Are Republicans really going to let them get away with it?"

The Washington Post's Charles Babington has a "still smoldering" Bill Frist saying that Tuesday's closed session was not necessary while DSCC honcho Chuck Schumer says: "My phones have been ringing off the hook. It has played far better than we had thought." LINK

The Washington Post's ed board chides Democrats for grandstanding about a war debate that took place three years ago while taking no dramatic stand against the CIA's abuses of foreign prisoners. LINK

Alexander Bolton reports in The Hill that Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said yesterday that the Senate Intelligence Committee will complete the second phase of its investigation into the use of prewar intelligence by Nov. 14 and, if necessary, will subpoena documents and interview senior officials from the Bush Administration. LINK

In his New York Times column, David Brooks scoffs at the "global conspiracy" theories that led Sen. Reid to call for Tuesday's closed session of the Senate and utilizes that RNC-circulated list of Democratic quotes from years past on Saddam Hussein's believed WMD capabilities. LINK

The Los Angeles Times covers the continued squabbling in Congress, offering no less than a bullet-pointed roundup of yesterday's Democratic attacks on the GOP. LINK

Bush agenda:

Robert Novak throws cold water all over the recommendations made to the President by his tax reform panel this week. Novak declares the recommendations in their current form as dead on arrival in Congress should they get there and urges the President to scrap these plans and start from scratch. LINK

Peggy Noonan Notes Dean Broder's most recent column with respect and graciousness, while simultaneously trashing him in the most genteel of manners, ripping him a new one the way it is done in places near Park Avenue and 75th Street. LINK

A lukewarm reaction from both sides of the aisle greeted the Bush flu plan on Wednesday, reports the New York Times. LINK

The insistence on keeping ANWR drilling in the budget legislation may prevent passage of the entire bill. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

The Wall Street Journal's David Rogers and Brody Mullins report that by courting "restive conservatives" with budget cuts, House Republican leaders are risking a "backlash" from moderates that could endanger the extension of President Bush's lower 15% rate for dividends and capital gains.

"The House Budget Committee takes up the $53.9 billion five-year deficit-reduction package today amid growing discomfort with provisions opening up the Arctic for oil drilling and requiring scaled-back funding for child care, Medicaid and nutrition benefits for the working poor."

The indispensable Jonathan Weisman reports for the Washington Post's front page that House Republicans are pushing to cut "tens of thousands" of legal immigrants off food stamps, "partially reversing President Bush's efforts to win Latino voters by restoring similar cuts made in the 1990s." LINK

Weisman Notes: "Such issues have created deep divisions between the conservatives pushing the cuts and Republican moderates, who fear the measure is going too far."

Republicans in the House are split over proposed spending cuts. Some feel it is unlikely to pass the Senate causing them to take a tough vote for naught, reports the Washington Times' Amy Fagan. LINK

The politics of national security:

Per the Washington Post's Dana Priest and Josh White, House Democrats are planning to introduce a motion as early as today to endorse language in the defense spending package written by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), which would bar cruel and inhuman treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody, including those in CIA hands. The motion would instruct House conferees to accept McCain's precise measure. LINK


On Capitol Hill yesterday, two former top officials at the Interior Department openly clashed over whether J. Stephen Griles, the former deputy secretary, had tried to intervene with Secretary Gale Norton on behalf of one of Jack Abramoff's tribal clients.

McCain called the Abramoff saga "a complex and tangled web . . . a story alarming in its depth and breadth of potential wrongdoing. It is breathtaking in its reach." LINK

Jack Abramoff offered a job to J. Steven Griles, a top official at the Interior Department, Griles testified yesterday, but Griles insists he did not intervene on behalf of Abramoff or his clients -- a claim "met with skepticism" by Senators, reports the New York Times. LINK

The Los Angeles Times brings you a play-by-play of yesterday's Abramoff-induced Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing. LINK

John Solomon and Sharon Theimer of the Associated Press exclusively got a hold of some emails showing DeLay staffers attempting to help Abramoff gain access to Norton. LINK

The politics of Katrina:

Per the New York Times, Republican Rep. Tom Davis criticized the Bush Administration yesterday for failing to turn over key documents related to the Katrina investigation. Davis threatened subpoenas if the Administration does not start to comply quickly. LINK


While telling the AP's Frederic Frommer that he considers the odds of a McCain-Feingold race in 2008 remote, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) said of McCain: "If he wins the Republican primaries, I think the chances of the Democrats winning the White House that year are going to be pretty thin. I think we all know that." LINK

2008: Democrats:

Sen. Hillary Clinton plans to visit Israel next week for the second time as a senator, reports the New York Times. The Times Notes Clinton faced questions about her commitment to Israel in her first senatorial campaign, and during this trip Clinton will attend events "centering on issues of apparent importance to Jews here and in Israel" and appear "beside prominent Israelis." LINK

A clue to Sen. Clinton's 2008 ambitions? Page Six claims former President Clinton's 2001 lease of office space in Harlem has an escape clause in the event his wife becomes president, a "fact" Clinton's spokesman denies. LINK

2008: Republicans:

The Boston Globe's Hellman Notes that former Iowa GOP executive director and current consultant Gentry Collins has been hired by two campaign committees affiliated with Gov. Romney. LINK

In his Granite Status column, John DiStaso of the New Hampshire Union Leader writes that New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Warren Henderson is concerned that the talk of a possible Democratic 2008 nomination calendar including several contests prior to New Hampshire could impact the GOP primary schedule in the Granite State as well. LINK

The Des Moines Register's David Yepsen highlights Newt Gingrich's theory that it's time to say goodbye to the GOP's current way of doing business -- citing the overly-complex prescription drug plan manual -- and to rev the 2006 campaign engine with a no-excuses approach on major issues such as immigration and hurricane relief efforts. LINK

Elana Schor reports in The Hill that Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) established his second qualified blind trust this summer to help his children avoid paying estate tax. LINK


With only five days to go until Virginia voters choose a successor to Gov. Mark Warner (D), the Washington Post's Timothy Dwyer profiles Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine (D) for the newspaper's front page with an emphasis on the ways in which a mission trip to Honduras put him on a new course. LINK

For the Washington Post's Metro section, Chris Jenkins reports that former Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder has endorsed Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine because of Republican candidate Jerry Kilgore's position on limiting handgun purchases to one per month. LINK

"Two key campaign consultants for Virginia attorney general candidate Robert F. McDonnell (R) established a nonprofit group five years ago that its director now says was used almost exclusively to secretly fund political efforts -- including one organized by indicted Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff," the Washington Post's James Grimaldi reports. LINK

In a story looking at the ways in which both parties are seeking 2005 signals about 2006, the Wall Street Journal's Deborah Solomon suggests that one factor that might be helping Democrat Tim Kaine in his race against Republican Jerry Kilgore might be President Bush's political travails. LINK

Though it tried, the New York Times says it was unable to find a single Democrat who would predict a Fernando Ferrer victory – and most said the campaign was "all but lost." LINK

Rudy Giuliani holds the record for the largest mayoral victory in New York City history – 17 points – but some Giuliani "insiders are fretting" that a Bloomberg victory next week could break that record, Stefan Friedman claims in the New York Post. LINK

Ferrer accused a park cleaning crew yesterday of being part of a dirty trick by the Bloomberg campaign, reports the New York Post. LINK

The average New Yorker is turned off by Mayor Bloomberg's lavish spending on his reelection campaign but isn't thrilled with the alternative, Fernando Ferrer, claims the New York Daily News. LINK

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Sen. Jon Corzine has reopened a wide lead of 12 points over his opponent, Douglass Forrester. LINK

As for those provocative quotes from Jon Corzine's ex-wife, "The Forrester campaign was working to produce a new television ad featuring Joanne Corzine's quotes, according to two of his advisers who spoke on condition of anonymity," reports the Newark Star Ledger. LINK

The New York Times profiles Forrester, who it finds is often called a modern day Jimmy Carter. LINK

Erin P. Billings reports in Roll Call that Rep. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) is heading into the final phase of his quiet campaign to be appointed senator if current Garden State Sen. Jon Corzine is elected governor.

The Wall Street Journal's Preciphs and Maher report that supporters of smaller government lost the first round of this year's ballot-initiative battle in Colorado and Note that they are trailing in the second which is scheduled for next week in California.

The Schwarzenegger Era:

It seems that Gov. Schwarzenegger's special election efforts may end up hurting him. 51 percent of Californians think the election is purely partisan politics, and his support for reelection is down to 36 percent, reports John Wildermuth of the San Francisco Chronicle. LINK

In California, supporters and opponents both of Prop. 73, concerning parental notification, are turning to churches in the days leading up to the election. While polls show the measure being defeated, supporters of the proposal hope to get Catholics and evangelicals out on election day reports Joe Garofoli of the San Francisco Chronicle. LINK

Michael Finnegan writes up a Los Angeles Times poll that shows California voters narrowly favoring a proposition that would require parental notification for minors seeking abortions. LINK


Janet Hook and Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times, in must-read fashion, examine the Democrats' renewed criticism of the war and what it means for 2006: LINK

"The debate next fall could look very different from the arguments today. In both parties, many believe the administration could reshape the political landscape by beginning to withdraw troops. And many Republicans believe that increased Democratic criticism of Bush's policies will drive more Americans to rally behind the president."

"Democrats remain deeply divided on what alternative to offer -- and whether they should offer one at all."

"Yet persistent public discontent with the war has clearly strengthened the position of Democrats who urge more confrontation."

USA Today's Jill Lawrence uses DeLay's upcoming race in small-town Texas to look at the larger issues facing Republicans. LINK

As per the AP: Republican Rep. Jim Nussle -- fully aware that federal spending cuts he is backing in 2005 could trip him up in the 2006 Iowa governor's race -- wasted no time in clarifying that these are just teensy-weensy entitlement program trims. LINK

The Sioux City Journal's Charlotte Eby reports that five out of six Iowa Democratic gubernatorial candidates agree that the state's current embryonic stem cell law stifles medical research, and thus support its repeal. LINK


Former Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham has started the Abraham Group, an energy consulting shop while former Congressman Jim Rogan, a former House manager in the impeachment of President Clinton, has landed at Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds in Orange County, the Washington Post's Judy Sarasohn reports. LINK

The New York Times has full details of Wednesday's royal dinner at the White House, right down to the taffeta leaves on the First Lady's dress. LINK

Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times reports the House voted against a measure last night to allow blogs to be exempt from FEC regulations. Look for new rules to govern their behavior probably in time for the 2006 elections. LINK

The Boston Globe's Rick Klein covers similar ground. LINK