The Note: "The Hollowness of Their Current Attack"

WASHINGTON, Nov. 11

NEWS SUMMARY

The President today defends his Iraq policy -- past, present, and future. He also goes on the offensive.

Mr. Bush delivers 12:00 pm ET remarks on the War on Terror in Tobyhanna, PA.

ABC's Jessica Yellin reports that the President will take on Democratic critics who accuse the Administration of fabricating the case for war. He will challenge claims that political pressure influenced the intelligence community's pre-war assessments about weapons of mass destruction.

"'It will be the most direct refutation of the Democrat charges you've seen probably since the election,' the [senior administration] official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to outline a strategy that has not yet become public and will play out over several weeks through presidential speeches, close coordination with Republicans on Capitol Hill and a stepped-up effort by the Republican National Committee," reports the New York Times' Stevenson and Cloud. LINK

Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans have not solved the Big Casino budget Rubik's Cube. And the Wall Street Journal ed board is mad about that. (Although Paul Gigot doesn't requie 218 votes to write an editorial.)

And to summarize the rest of today's political news: Arnold is contrite; Karl is back (or: he never left); Bill Clinton can give a heck of speech; the Los Angeles Times frees The Note to write about Alito again; and Tom DeLay has some good lawyers.

In short, it might be a holiday weekend, but there are must-read galore, plenty of key events, and a presidential speech the importance of which cannot be overstated.

Also today, Vice President Cheney participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at 10:55 am ET and delivers a speech at the memorial amphitheatre at 11:10 am ET. Following the Cheney event, Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson holds a media availability at Arlington National Cemetery.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made an unannounced visit to Iraq on Friday, stopping in the mostly Sunni Arab town of Mosul to urge Iraqis to participate in upcoming elections.

On this Veterans Day, Sen. John McCain and former Sen. Max Cleland are in Minnesota. Cleland will endorse Tim Walz, a veteran who is a Democratic candidate for Congress. McCain will speak in Minneapolis at a benefit for a fund started to aid military members and their families. LINK

Solicitor General Paul Clement discusses "Federalism and Separation of Powers: Subordinating the Constitution to International Law" at the Federalist Society conference at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC.

The Senate stands adjourned until 2:00 pm ET on Monday, November 14.

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman travels to Fort Wayne, IN to participate in a GOP headquarters rededication and to deliver remarks to the Allen County Republican Party's Bean Dinner.

Virginia Gov.-elect Tim Kaine and Gov. Mark Warner hold a 10:30 am ET press availability following a private meeting at the Executive Mansion.

Be sure to tune into "This Week" on Sunday when George Stephanopoulos speaks to National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley about the terror attacks in Jordan and what it means for security at home. And, in a Sunday exclusive -- all four chairs of the 2006 congressional campaign committees will be together for the first time: NRSC Chairwoman Sen. Elizabeth Dole, DSCC Chairman Sen. Chuck Schumer, NRCC Chairman Rep. Tom Reynolds, and DCCC Chairman Rep. Rahm Emanuel. Along with the classic roundtable -- George Will, Cokie Roberts and Sam Donaldson -- this Sunday's This Week is must-see TV.

Politics of national security:

The Washington Post's Peter Baker has National Security Adviser Hadley going on the offensive against those critics who "ignore their own past statements" about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, in a bit of curtain raising for today's POTUS event. LINK

In the same paper, Brad Graham has a key piece on shifting thoughts on how to fight the war now. LINK

The AP on the push by Senate Democrats to deliver another "blow" to the President by trying to require him to lay out a time table for withdrawal from Iraq. LINK

With four Democrats voting in favor and four Republicans voting nay, the Senate endorsed a plan yesterday that would sharply limit suspected foreign terrorists' access to US courts, an effort to overturn a landmark 2004 Supreme court ruling that has allowed hundreds of detainees held by military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to challenge their detentions," the Washington Post's Dan Eggen reports. LINK

The New York Times on the same. LINK

While Sen. Roberts balked at Majority Leader Frist's request for the Intelligence Committee to get to work on investigating the leak of secret CIA prisons in a Washington Post story, the AP reports Chairman Hoekstra will take that ball and run with it in the House. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

In a Friday must-read, the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray look at the "cracking" of the GOP's once vaunted discipline: LINK

"House Republican leaders were forced to abruptly pull their $54 billion budget-cutting bill off the House floor yesterday, amid growing dissension in Republican ranks over spending priorities, taxes, oil exploration and the reach of government."

"A battle between House Republican conservatives and moderates over energy policy and federal anti-poverty and education programs left GOP leaders without enough votes to pass a budget measure they had framed as one of the most important pieces of legislation in years. Across the Capitol, a moderate GOP revolt in the Senate Finance Committee forced Republicans to postpone action on a bill to extend some of President Bush's most contentious tax cuts."

"The twin setbacks added to growing signs that the Republican Party's typically lock-step discipline is cracking under the weight of Bush's plummeting approval ratings, Tuesday's electoral defeats and the increasing discontent of the American electorate. After five years of remarkable unity under Bush's gaze, divisions between Republican moderates and conservatives are threatening to paralyze the party."

"'The fractures were always there. The difference was the White House was always able to hold them in line because of perceived power,' said Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster. 'After Tuesday's election, it's 'Why are we following these guys? They're taking us off the cliff.''"

The New York Times' Hulse describes the pulling of the bill as "a stunning retreat for a Republican majority that has prided itself on iron discipline and an ability to win even the most difficult floor votes consistently." LINK

"Republican leaders insisted that the setbacks were temporary. But the level of disarray was striking, and the delays throw a monkey wrench into plans to wrap up this session of Congress," write Dave Rogers and Brody Mullins of the Wall Street Journal in their exploration of the intra-party tensions on display.

"Ron Bonjean, spokesman for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said that despite the postponement, 'winning the vote next week will be a great victory.' But it remained unclear how the GOP leaders would alter the bill -- or what sweeteners they might offer -- to secure its passage," writes the Los Angeles Times' Hook and Simon. LINK

The Boston Globe on the budget: LINK

The Des Moines Register on the budget: LINK

The Wall Street Journal editorial board appears none too pleased with Republican members' inability to remain disciplined.

"Republican disarray on Capitol Hill reached self-ramming speed yesterday, as both the House and the Senate abandoned key policy priorities as they tried to pass a budget. Hide the children because this is getting ugly."

It concludes thusly: "America can survive these policy setbacks; the question is whether the Republican majority will, or even should. If a GOP Congress can't vote to sustain its own wildly successful tax cuts, or to explore for more domestic energy, let's just turn Congress over to Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and at least have truth in liberal advertising."

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank reports that "after five years of relative quiescence, centrist Republicans chose yesterday to make a stand." LINK

Alito for Associate Justice:

"Some antiabortion groups are starting to wonder whether" Alito is "as strong an ally of their cause as opponents have depicted him," writes Maura Reynolds of the Los Angeles Times, in a must-read story for which we have been waiting. LINK

"Although he has been wholeheartedly embraced by most major conservative groups, those whose sole mission is to restrict and prohibit abortion have reservations about the latest Supreme Court nominee as they learn more about his record on the divisive issue."

The Washington Post's Charles Babington reports that Democrats are beginning to focus no recusal questions as criticism of Alito's judicial philosophy "have had little effect." LINK

Alito's letter to Sen. Specter concerning his initial involvement in the Vanguard case did not seem to satisfy Sen. Kennedy (D-MA), reports the New York Times' Stolberg. LINK

"My Name Is Karl Rove and I am Not a Lawyer:"

Karl Rove received two standing ovations last night at the Federalist Society gathering. He also tried to buck up his friend Harriet Miers. He told the crowd that if they were happy with the 200 nominees put forth by President Bush for the federal bench, they should know that the woman responsible for vetting and researching and supporting these nominees is "my good friend from Texas, Harriet Miers."

Miers received a cordial round of applause and blew a kiss to Rove from her table directly in front of the stage.

Karl Rove has refocused on his work at the White House and reengaged on the 2006 midterm elections, reports Anne Kornblut of the New York Times, in a piece that is must read, but should not be over-read, over-interpreted, or over-reacted to. LINK

Coverage from the Washington Post LINK, the Washington Times LINK, the New York Daily News LINK, and the Los Angeles Times: LINK

David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times takes a look at the Federalist Society's influence on the occasion of its convention and reports that despite the Roberts and Alito nominations there is still great concern among the members of the group about the overall direction of the courts. LINK

David Savage of the Los Angeles Times takes stock of the Federalist Society as well. LINK

2008: Democrats:

The Washington Post's Al Kamen has New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) telling two dozen well-heeled folks at Elizabeth and Smith Bagley's lovely manse in Georgetown: "I'm running, and you can tell people that." With two other people recalling him saying: "I'm going in 2008." LINK

And Richardson is not alone. Chris Cillizza, washingtonpost.com's Mr. Fix It, was given a Biden fundraising letter from a potential 2008 rival camp in which Biden states, "I'm running." LINK

Apparently, two days after the 2005 elections was all the waiting time needed for some 2008 hopefuls to take a more aggressive approach to their potential campaigns.

The Washington Post's Michael Shear has tons of Noteworthy detail about the groundwork Warner has been laying for a presidential bid and the people who are moving in his orbit. LINK

Sen. Clinton's proposal to track flu vaccines. LINK

2008:

Some 2008 match-ups from Harwood's further examination of the WSJ/NBC numbers:

"The former First Lady draws 41% among Democrats to 14% for Edwards; Kerry receives 10%, Biden 5%, Clark 4%. Mavericks Giuliani and McCain lead Republican field with 34% and 31%, respectively, while Frist, Romney and Allen draw 5% or less."

"Topping those ruled out: 17% of Democrats definitely won't back Gore, while 21% of Republicans say that about Gingrich. General-election trial heats show Frist, after missteps as Senate Majority Leader, would lose handily to Clinton or Kerry. McCain shows greater electability, which could boost his prospects among conservatives who battled him in 2000."

"McCain routs Kerry by 53% to 35%, and edges Clinton 44% to 42%."

The Washington Post's David Ignatius writes that McCain would be the nominee of his party of performance because over the past few years, he has been "the most visible example of a politician who has tired to swim against the tide of partisanship." LINK

McCain tells Ignatius: "I think the pendulum has swung as far as it's going to, and it will now swing back."

McCain on the Gang of 14: "Every member of that group is happy, because our constituents have reacted so positively."

"He cited a series of other groups that are now meeting in the Senate to try to work across the aisle on issues such as immigration, military procurement and lobbying reform."

Ignatius calls Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack "a potential leader of the Democratic wing of the party of performance."

2008: Republicans:

Speaking to a packed crowd at the American Enterprise Institute on Thursday, McCain called a proposal by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) to bring 20,000 US troops home from Iraq "a major step on the road to disaster."

Kerry's top choice for VP and Secretary of Defense in 2004 said US troop levels in Iraq should be increased by "at least another 10,000" above the already-increased level of US troops that are in Iraq in advance of the country's December 15th election.

As for the war as a whole, McCain said "mistakes are made in every conflict. The key is to fix them."

McCain said he would be glad to debate any Democrat who believes the impetus to go to war in Iraq was "some kind of conspiracy."

"Every intelligence agency in the world believed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," McCain said.

Scott Helman reports in the Boston Globe that when Federalist Society member Gerald Walpin introduced Romney, Walpin joked that Massachusetts is represented by the ''modern-day KKK: the Kennedy-Kerry Klan." LINK

Massachusetts Democrats are fuming about the Klan remarks and Romney has called the introduction inappropriate. LINK

But the Globe ledes with Romney's remarks blasting Massachusetts Supreme Court Judges personally in their decision to legalize same sex marriage by stating, 'If a judge substitutes his or her values for those values that were placed in the constitution, they do so at great peril to the culture of our entire land."LINK

The New York Sun's Brian McGuire looks at the McCain and Romney efforts on Thursday to distance themselves "not only from their party's current woes but from the growing Republican pack." LINK

Thomas Beaumont reports in the Des Moines Register that former Bush cabinet member Christine Todd Whitman yesterday criticized the staunchly anti-abortion wing of the Republican Party. LINK

Clintons of Chappaqua:

In his letter from the symposium on the Clinton presidency taking place at Hofstra University, the Washington Post's John F. Harris has Bill Clinton saying that when he was president: "'I believed we needed a network of global cooperation,' before adding: 'As we see in Iraq, it's very difficult to solve complex problems when we are essentially alone.'" LINK

Clinton also talked "at length -- and with passion -- about how much he regretted agreeing to a special prosecutor to investigate Whitewater, saying h was 'a naïve person who believed in the rule of law.' He called impeachment 'an egregious abuse of the Constitution' orchestrated by former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who did not mind 'being a hypocrite.'"

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times with his assessment of Clinton's speech: LINK

"Overall, the speech was a vintage Clinton performance: Long, leavened with a touch of folksy humor, rich in policy detail, and (slightly) late in coming. More reminiscent of his winding - but generally popular - State of the Union addresses than of a stump speech, Mr. Clinton's remarks for the most part left aside grand themes and soaring language."

"Instead, he delivered a blow-by-blow account of his presidency, starting with his decision to jump into the 1992 Democratic primary when 'nobody but my wife and my mother thought I had a remote chance,' and ending with a long critique of his impeachment and its relative importance to any account of his presidency."

Jackie Calmes of the Wall Street Journal takes a look at the ongoing independent counsel investigation into Henry Cisneros and gives some play to the conspiracy theories about attempts to dampen a public report which may be embarrassing to Sen. Clinton. LINK

DeLay:

The Washington Post's R. Jeffrey Smith has four sources "familiar with events" saying that lawyers for Congressman Tom DeLay (R-TX) "tried unsuccessfully in late September to head off felony criminal indictments against the then-majority leader on charges of violating Teas campaign alw by signaling that DeLay might plead guilty to a misdemeanor." LINK

If you are interested in this case, this story is yet another Friday must read.

Fitzgerald investigation:

John Harwood drills down in the WSJ/NBC poll and reports, "Six in 10, including 43% of Republicans, say there should be a public investigation and hearings into exposure of operative Valerie Plame's identity. Republican congressional leaders don't plan to go along. Among conservatives, 60% say other administration officials aside from Libby may have acted illegally. Fully 69% of Americans hold Cheney personally responsible for the matter; 54% hold Bush responsible."

2006:

Keying off of recent results in Colorado and California, the Los Angeles Times' Brownstein ponders the electorate's appetite for the many spending limit measures slated for the ballot in 2006. LINK

Raymond Hernandez of the New York Times writes up an "emergency" fundraising appeal sent by Jeanine Pirro which invokes Bill Clinton's name and allows Howard Wolfson to suggest that perhaps the husbands will be fair game in this contest -- or not. LINK

The New York Post's on the letter in which Pirro criticizes Sen. Clinton for "taking a page out of Bill's political playbook" by portraying herself as a moderate when she's actually a liberal. LINK

While the talk around town may be of the President as a liability, Scott McClellan says, "Our political affairs shop gets asked on virtually a daily basis for the president to come campaign for a candidate of our party," reports Jospeh Curl and S. A. Miller of the Washington Times. LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

"A chastened Arnold Schwarzenegger took complete blame Thursday for the thrashing he endured at the polls and pledged to be a more collaborative governor in the coming year, offering Democrats an extraordinary role in crafting his agenda," writes Peter Nicholas of the Los Angeles Times in a must read. LINK

Mark Martin of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Schwarzenegger announced yesterday that he will work with the legislature from now on, instead of trying to circumvent it with ballot initiatives. Although he would not apologize, he was wounded enough by the loss to admit it was a mistake. LINK

Iowa:

Thomas Beaumont reports in the Des Moines Register that Patty Judge, a Democratic candidate for Iowa governor and the state's secretary of agriculture, announced yesterday she supports stem cell research. LINK

New Hampshire:

Riley Yates of the Union Leader reports on Manchester Mayor-elect Frank Guinta's post-election promises. LINK

Weekend Highlights:

Sen. Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton are in Israel this weekend. As part of the Saban Forum 2005, they will attend Saturday's "Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century" dinner at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. On Sunday, she will view a section of the security fence in Giloh. She will also attend the concluding dinner of the Saban Forum in Jerusalem. On Monday, she meets with the Bi-National Disaster Preparedness Consortium and the two will attend a memorial service for Yitzhak Rabin. The former president will make speak at the opening of the Yitzhak Rabin Center.

Former Sen. Fred Thompson is the featured speaker at Congressman Jim Nussle's "Red, White and Blues" fundraising dinner on Saturday in Cedar Rapids, IA.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom headlines the Iowa Senate Majority Fund's fundraiser on Sunday in Des Moines, IA.