The Note: "God Is Not a Republican"



The Note has many goals -- first and foremost, of course, is to avoid spending the day responding to e-mails.

By which we mean two kinds of e-mails.

First, angry ones from partisans who want to make sure we know that The Note is totally off base.

Second, "helpful" ones from relatives and friends, making sure we know that we have been attacked in the blogosphere (again).

Achieving our goal today is a challenge, since we face a choice -- a choice we are self-consciously avoiding for another second or two as we type these words.

The question boils down to: how much cosmic significance should we attach to yesterday's election results and how long should we go on about it?

Our view:

--the midterms are a year a way;

--President Bush has gone from being an unalloyed asset to being a mixed bag (at best) and in some places an obvious drag for GOP candidates;

--Kilgore and Forrester are not great candidates;

-- Democrats can now (again) plausibly argue that they can win by advocating bigger government programs for things such as health care and education;

-- the Democratic victory lap that starts today will jazz up their donors and help candidate recruitment;

-- the discipline of the Rove-Mehlman team in keeping negative the-sky-is-falling quotes out of the papers today is remarkable (but just wait until tomorrow);

-- if the Republicans can avoid mass retirements in Congress, even a politically weak Bush probably won't cost them control of either chamber (but they will obsess about all this for quite some time);

-- the Washington Post Metro staff needs some deprogramming to get over its Mark Warner Stockholm Syndrome;

-- thank goodness that the Schwarzenegger political consultants aren't afraid of Maria Shriver;

-- Terry McAuliffe and Howard Dean are friggin' geniuses;

-- winning is better than losing;

-- if John Kerry could talk as comfortably about his personal faith as Tim Kaine can, he would be the President of the United States right now;

-- if Howard Dean could talk as comfortably about his personal faith as Tim Kaine can, he would have been the Democratic nominee in 2004;

-- and, one of the few positive trends in American political journalism is the vast curtailing of the practice of over-reading the results of off-off-year elections.

Everybody happy now?

Let's hope so.

All of this will get a grand romp around the dance floor today, when Democrats head to the mics. First up at 12:15 pm ET (formerly a pen & pad, now made tv-camera friendly) is the DSCC/DCCC joint Schumer/Emanuel press briefing at DNC headquarters followed by the 1:30 pm ET on camera DNC/DGA briefing with Chairman/Gov. Dean and Chairman/Gov. Richardson, also taking place at DNC headquarters.

Virginia Gov.-elect Tim Kaine holds a 10:00 am ET press conference at the Marriott Hotel in Richmond to announce his "Moving Virginia Forward" transportation town hall tour as well as his transition team.

The AFL-CIO holds a 1:30 pm ET conference call to discuss union members' GOTV efforts in California, New Jersey, Virginia, and Ohio.

Washington's "other" big moment occurs today when the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee hold a joint hearing on energy pricing and profits at 9:30 am ET.

House Democratic leaders Pelosi, Hoyer, Menendez, and Clyburn will hold a press stakeout outside of Cannon 345 following the House Democratic Caucus meeting to discuss Republican budget cuts and the GOP's "failure to reduce gas prices and home heating costs." Meanwhile in Phoenix, the Western Governors Association discusses the economic impact of energy programs.

Judge Alito makes the rounds on Capitol Hill. He has meetings planned with Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) at 9:00 am ET, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) at 10:00 am ET, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) at 11:00 am ET, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) at 1:00 pm ET, and Sen. John Thune (R-SD) at 3:00 pm ET.

President Bush makes a statement on South Asia earthquake relief efforts at 1:40 pm ET in the Roosevelt Room. The President and First Lady honor recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom at 2:30 pm ET in the East Room.

The American Bar Association holds its International Rule of Law symposium at the Capital Hilton beginning at 7:30 am ET. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice makes remarks at 1:00 pm ET.

Phase II of the investigation into Iraq war intelligence continues. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and others hold a 10:00 am ET press conference in the Mansfield Room on the Bush Administration's lack of a response to a letter sent more than a month ago containing four questions about Iraq.

The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management holds a 3:00 pm ET hearing on the security clearance process.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) will hold a press conference in H-203 on human rights in China at 2:00 pm ET.

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) hold a 10:30 am ET presser in the Senate Radio/Television Gallery to unveil new legislation called the Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Act.

The Select Hurricane Katrina Committee holds a hearing on Alabama's preparedness and response and is scheduled to hear from Alabama Gov. Bob Riley (R).

Anna Burger, chair of "Change to Win," discusses the lessons learned about the working poor in the wake of Hurricane Katrina at an event sponsored by former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) at UNC's Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity.

House Budget Committee Democrats, led by Ranking Member John Spratt, along with Ranking Members from key House Committees, hold an urgent budget forum at 11:00 am ET in the Capitol to discuss "proposed cuts to Medicaid, student loans, children and family services and rural and agricultural programs."

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) delivers a keynote address to the National Medicaid Directors. Huckabee's speech will discuss federal cost-shifting to the states for major programs such as Medicaid.

The Supreme Court hears a consolidated oral argument in United States v. Georgia and Goodman v. Georgia at 10:00 am ET before hearing oral arguments in Evans v. Chavis.

C-SPAN's Brian Lamb testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee at 9:30 am ET on cameras in the Supreme Court

2005: what it all means

The Los Angeles Times' Ron Brownstein writes that yesterday's two gubernatorial wins by Democrats have some Republicans "worried that President Bush's sagging popularity may drag down the party in next year's midterm elections." But he Notes that Virginia and New Jersey have been imperfect predictors in the past of political trends in the following year's midterm elections. LINK

Bloomberg News' Keil and Przybyla: "These odd-year elections on occasion have been a harbinger for the next year's national vote. In 1993, Republicans captured Virginia and New Jersey, presaging the party's sweeping congressional victories the next year."

"More often, the off-year vote signifies little. In 1997 Republicans repeated their success of three years earlier, yet Democrats gained in the next year's mid-term contests. Four years ago, the Democrats retook New Jersey and Virginia, while the Republicans gained the upper hand nationally in 2002."

Tom Rath in Bloomberg News' election recap: "More will be made out of this than should be but it adds to the feeling right now that these are tough times. . ."

Robin Toner of the New York Times on the implications of yesterday's vote: "After months of sagging poll ratings, scandal and general political unrest, the Republicans badly needed some good news in Tuesday's elections for governor. What they got instead was a clear-cut loss in a red state, and an expected but still painful defeat in a blue one." LINK

The New York Post's Podhoretz dismisses the national results as local, local, local. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Joseph Schuman: "Odd-year by-elections are often poor telltales for national political trends, an interfusion of local personality dynamics and broader policy issues that might not be in play a year down the line. But yesterday nonetheless is being hailed as a Democratic victory."

In an AP/Ipsos telephone poll of New Jerseyans who said they voted yesterday: "Most voters said President Bush was not a factor in their choices. Women favored Corzine by more than 20 points while men narrowly preferred Forrester." LINK

The New York Times editorial board on last night's results: LINK

The Nation's Newspaper brings you results from every race in the country: LINK

2005: Virginia

The Richmond Times-Dispatch has Kaine media consultant David Eichenbaum saying: "We're trying to show here that God isn't a Republican." LINK

"Democrat Kaine Wins in Virginia," blares the Washington Post banner headline: LINK

The Washington Post ed board on Kaine's win: "Kaine's triumph in Virginia's gubernatorial race is a watershed -- the victory of a Southern Democrat who prevailed despite his principled opposition to the death penalty and his refusal to rule out new taxes." LINK

The New York Times on Kaine's victory: LINK

The Washington Times has Stu Rothenberg saying Kaine's win in Virginia could be because "there's a lack of enthusiasm and energy among Republicans." LINK

The Lynchburg News and Advance breaks down the Virginia vote by county. LINK

2005: Schwarzenegger's special:

Los Angeles Times header: "No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No"

The Los Angeles Times writes that yesterday's vote "shattered" Schwarzenegger's "image as an agent of the popular will." LINK

The Los Angeles Times' news analysis says Schwarzenegger "never seemed to make the transition from celebrity to chief executive," as his action-star sales pitch failed to persuade voters on his "year of reform" agenda while deeply damaging his own standing in the process. LINK

Says one Republican strategist and occasional Schwarzenegger advisor: "The act is getting stale."

The Los Angeles Times says California voters had the governor on their minds, no matter how they voted. LINK

The New York Times on a wounded Gov. Schwarzenegger's failed initiatives, as well as other state ballot referendums. LINK

"The governor may take solace in history: The last California governor not to go on to a second term was Goodwin Knight, who led the state from 1953 to 1959, noted Bill Whalen, a former speechwriter for Republican governor Pete Wilson and one-time Schwarzenegger adviser," write Bloomberg News' Selway and Marois.

"'He has history on his side,' Whalen said, speculating about a defeat before the vote. 'His life has pretty much been a series of wall-to-wall successes. This would be a punch in the gut to any politician. So that's the question: How well does he take a punch?'"

Even though voters rejecting capping state spending, state lawmakers don't expect to raise taxes as Schwarzenegger had warned. LINK

The San Francisco Chronicle on Schwarzenegger's failed initiatives: LINK

The San Francisco Chronicle says Schwarzenegger may have trouble rebuilding bipartisan support in Sacramento before the 2006 election, with "his image and clout seriously diminished, the voters weary and cynical, and the state mired deep in political gridlock." LINK

UC Berkeley political science professor Bruce Cain has this colorful analogy: "Bipartisanship is like virginity…Once lost, it's never recovered."

Schwarzenegger's troubles yesterday even extended to his own trip to the polls. LINK

The Los Angeles Times editorial board opines on an electorate weary and wary of the initiative process. LINK

The final tally: LINK

Manchester mayor:

The Union Leaders reports on the "stunning upset victory" of Manchester mayor Robert Baines being beaten by about 600 votes to Republican Frank Guinta LINK

Dear Mayor-elect Guinta: let's have lunch!!!!

2005: New Jersey:

The New York Times overview on Corzine's win. LINK

"It took five years and $100 million, but Jon S. Corzine has finally captured an office with powers enough to match his aspirations," writes the New York Times in its Man in the News profile of the new governor. LINK

The New York Times editorial board hopes Corzine's governance will be better than the bespoiled politics of the campaign. LINK

The New York Observer offers a little color from last night's Corzine victory party, where supporters enjoyed an open bar and danced to the strains of Barry White's "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe." LINK

Newark Star-Ledger lede: "With stunning ease, Democrat Jon Corzine was elected governor of New Jersey yesterday, defeating Republican Doug Forrester in a campaign that turned out to be the most expensive and negative the state has ever seen." LINK

2005: New York City:

New York Post cover: "KING MIKE: Bloomberg's Landslide."

New York Daily News cover: "KA-BLOOM! You Got Your Victory, Mike, Now, Let's See You Deliver."

The New York Times' Patrick D. Healy on the GOP's "fourth straight victory over a Democratic Party that had controlled city politics for much of the last century." LINK

Jim Rutenburg of the New York Times says an unleashed Bloomberg is poised to pursue an even broader agenda in the next four years. LINK

Beyond the financial disadvantage, Ferrer's campaign was not short on other flaws, so says the New York Times. LINK

Bloomberg's coattails did not extend to the city council. LINK

The New York Times editorial board warns that Bloomberg shouldn't use his large margin of victory to insist on his way, no matter what.LINK

Ben Smith and Jason Horowitz of the New York Observer on "what may be the most powerful Mayorlty in New York City history." LINK

2005: ballot measures:

Intelligent Design proponents score a victory in Kansas. LINK

Ohio voters "rejected a package of reforms that would have radically changed" elections in the state, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports. LINK

In Texas where the gay marriage ban overwhelmingly passed, Rep. Warren Chisum, the Republican who wrote the amendment, had this to say about his fellow Texans: "' They're very family-oriented, and given the opportunity, they'll vote conservative. They still have a lot of moral values.'" LINK

2005: other races:

The New York Times rounds up the results of the major mayor elections, including the defeat of St. Paul, MN mayor Randy Kelly, a Democrat who endorsed President Bush last year. LINK

Twenty-eight-year-old "Field Phenom" and Whouley accolyte Beth Leoanrd helped John Kerry pull off a miracle in Iowa, lived the nightmare of Ohio, and came back to help Mayor Menino win by the biggest margin of his career. Take a break, Beth. '06 is (only) 11 plus months away.


President Bush will headline a Steele campaign fundraiser later this month, reports the Washington Post's Mosk. LINK


Jason Horowitz of the New York Observer looks at the perception of a Ray Kelly transformation from a Dinkins man to a Giuliani-identified Manhattan Institute man and wonders what that might mean for a potential 2009 mayoral run. LINK

2008: Democrats:

ABC News' George Stephanopoulos told ABC's Charlie Gibson on "Good Morning America" that the surprising element of Kaine's win was the margin of victory, which served as a hearty endorsement for current governor (and 2008 wannabe) Mark Warner.

The biggest winner on Tuesday may have been Warner, according to the New York Times. LINK

"The Virginia results may also have some significance for the 2008 presidential race, as a show of political strength by Gov. Mark Warner, a popular Democrat whose active support was considered essential to Mr. Kaine's victory over the Republican candidate, Jerry W. Kilgore."

"Mr. Warner, considered a potential candidate for president, could offer himself as an outside-the-Beltway leader with demonstrated appeal to red-state voters, his allies say, in a race that many Democrats expect to be dominated by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York."

The Washington Post's Robert Barnes on the meaning of Tuesday's vote: ". . .most of all it demonstrated the appeal of Gov. Mark R. Warner (D), for whom this could become the first stop of a presidential campaign." LINK

"[Emory professor Merle] Black said the election could hardly have gone better for Warner as he begins to put together a national campaign. 'You can imagine him on the ticket, either as the presidential candidate or the vice president, and Virginia automatically becomes a competitive state,' he said. The commonwealth has not supported a Democrat for president since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964."

The New York Post reports that Kaine's win in Virginia means trouble for Bush . . . and also for Hillary Clinton. LINK

DGA chairman and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson said last nights wins were, "a great boost in morale." LINK

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) supports having the 2008 Democratic National Convention in New Orleans, LA. LINK

The politics of gas:

The Wall Street Journal editorial board drips with scorn and sarcasm at the bipartisan bit of political theater expected on the Hill today, but applauds members of Congress for the possible opening of ANWR for some additional energy supply.

Alito for Associate Justice:

Today is the very last time The Note will write about Judge Alito's confirmation process. We obviously are not qualified to weigh in on this thing, because we just don't get it.

The guy has come out for the right to privacy; he has spoken lovingly about precedent (even in cases that are wrongly decided); he has no track record of speaking out or writing about Roe; and liberal law clerks and colleagues love him. Meanwhile, the pro-abortion rights groups hate him, and the right-to-life movement embraces him with out reservation.

?????!!!????, we say.

"Alito Signals Reluctance to Overturn Roe v. Wade," reads the Washington Post A1 headline. LINK

Post scribes Charles Babington and Michael Fletcher decode the Lieberman and Collins language from their meetings wit Alito without much pushback from the Wendy Longs of the world.

"Several Republicans who oppose abortion rights said they are not alarmed by Alito's comments because they believe he is a conservative who will base his decisions on the Constitution and the law, standards they can live with. 'I think pro-choice Republicans are feeling more and more comfortable that whatever stand he takes on the Roe issue will be driven by the law, not ideology,' Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said in an interview. 'He's a strict constructionist,' Graham said, and that's all conservatives want."

Alito is (successfully) trying to dance a fine line on abortion, per the New York Times. LINK

The Los Angeles Times also covers the praise for Alito's handling of abortion with Senators yesterday. LINK

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist pens a Chicago Tribune op-ed saying that last week's showdown in the Senate over intelligence has him worried that Democrats may try to block the Alito nomination from coming to a vote. Frist warns that if Democrats "abuse Senate rules and violate the Constitution," he "will not hesitate" to "put the constitutional option" before his colleagues.

The Washington Post looks at Professor Alito's academic exercises in which his students report it was hard to pin down his well known conservative ideology. LINK

Interests groups seemed to have called a truce through the holidays, putting their ad campaigns on hold through the New Year, reports USA Today. LINK

Politics of national security:

The New York Times looks at the Republican calls for an investigation into whether classified information concerning CIA prisons was disclosed to the Washington Post last week. LINK

The Los Angeles Times on the same: LINK

The White House is defending its efforts to block new restrictions on U.S. treatment of war prisoners as the issue moves toward a showdown in Congress, per the Los Angeles Times. LINK

The Hill wraps Frist and Hastert's quest to discover who told the Washington Post about the CIA's "black sites". LINK

"The CIA will be required to fill out an 11-point questionnaire outlining the damage done by the release, how the information has been protected and the individuals or groups with knowledge of the information. Justice prosecutors will then determine whether they believe a criminal investigation is warranted," reports the Washington Post's Weisman. LINK

The Hill's Alexander Bolton on how yesterday's political maneuvering prevented any real progress during the Intel Committee's first day of hearings on Iraq's prewar weapons capabilities. LINK

Roll Call's Emily Pierce has Lott on Phase Two of the intel investigation, saying while calling witnesses was unlikely, the task force did expect to have one segment of their report released relatively soon. As for the latest uproar over leaking, Lott offered this: "I just think we spend too much time around here chasing rabbits."

In his Washington Post column, Dana Milbank sketches the "Sissy Six" Senators who have been tasked with hammering out Phase II of the committee's investigation into pre-war intelligence. LINK

The Fitzgerald investigation:

Judith Miller and The New York Times are nearing a severance agreement, reports the New York Observer. LINK

The New York Times reports that Libby has started a legal defense fund. LINK

The Los Angeles Times on the White House ethics refresher course. LINK

Bush agenda:

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) says Social Security reform will have to wait until 2009, reports The Hill. "I can't even get consensus among Republicans, so I'm very pessimistic about it in the future," he said yesterday. LINK

Roll call on Cheney skipping town. LINK

Don Evans uses a Wall Street Journal op-ed to continue the Administration's push for extending the 2003 capital gains tax cuts.

However, Chairman Grassley is not fully on board with the White House plan. "Under mounting budget pressure, the Senate's chief tax writer proposed to extend President Bush's 15% tax rates for capital gains and dividends for only one year, not two as the White House wanted," write the Wall Street Journal's Mullins and Rogers. LINK?mod=blogs">LINK

The New York Times on the latest GOP tax cut package. LINK


Polling shows next year's Iowa governor's race is still a tossup, reports the Des Moines Register.

Per the Des Moines Register, the FBI is investigating the motive behind an attack on an aide to Sen. Charles Grassley (D-IA). LINK


USA Today investigates military spending by tracking the explosive growth of one Pentagon consulting firm. Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-CA) comes off smelling less than rosy in the process. LINK


As Alito moves forward, the New York Times' Linda Greenhouse has some color from the current Supreme Court term. LINK

Anna Schneider composes a list of "Little Supremes . . . a handful of earnest, platinum-résumé'd law geeks" (like Noah Feldman) who are mapping their way to a seat on the bench. LINK

Politics of immigration:

The Wall Street Journal's Kronholz explains that immigration reform not only splits the Republican Party, but Democrats are divided on the issue as well. LINK


Lobbyists are following through on their promise to support the House Democrats who helped pass CAFTA, throwing fundraisers and rallying constituents. LINK