The Note: Sweat the Big Things

Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus turned in a meta-must read on the front-page of Saturday's Washington Post that is worth quoting from at length: LINK

"President Bush and his national security adviser have answered critics of the Iraq war in recent days with a two-pronged argument: that Congress saw the same intelligence the administration did before the war, and that independent commissions have determined that the administration did not misrepresent the intelligence."

"Neither assertion is wholly accurate."

The White House responded to the Milbank-Pincus piece on Sunday with a "fact sheet" that argued that the PDB the President did not share with the Congress was actually more "problematic" than the NIE given to Congress.

Walter Pincus pulls Sunday show duty for the Washington Post and ledes with Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts saying that one lesson of the faulty prewar intelligence on Iraq is that Senators will take a hard look at intelligence before voting to go to war." LINK

The Washington Post's Fred Hiatt has Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) saying that the Democrats' focus on manipulated intelligence "aren't irrelevant questions" before adding that "the more they dominate the public debate, the harder it is to sustain public support for the war." LINK

Lieberman came in first among Democrats when National Journal asked its pool of Republican "insiders" which member of Congress from the opposite party do they most admire. (Needless to say, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) came in first when Democratic "insiders" were asked the same question).

Much of the amendment on Iraq being offered by Republicans to the Defense Authorization bill is similar to the Democratic version. However, one Senate Democratic aide points out these unique inclusions in the Levin/Biden/Reid amendment:

"The Democratic amendment on Iraq, on which the Senate will vote Tuesday, makes clear three policy statements:"

"1. 2006 should be the year of a significant transition with Iraqi forces helping to create the conditions that will lead to the phased redeployment of U.S. military forces from Iraq."

"2. The Iraqi people must be advised that U.S. military forces will not stay in Iraq indefinitely and that the Iraqis need to take the steps necessary to achieve a broad-based and sustainable political settlement that is essential for defeating the insurgency."

"3. The President shall submit a plan for success with timetables to the Congress and the American people on a quarterly basis specifying the challenges and progress in Iraq and the estimated dates for the phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq."

The Boston Herald reports, a new Bay State petition could put the Iraq war on the ballot for voters, "if approved by voters next November, the initiative would require whoever is elected governor in 2006 to use all legal means available to bring home the Massachusetts National Guard." LINK

Roll Call's Morton Kondracke writes that Bush's pushback comes "none too soon."

Conservative icon William F. Buckley told the Wall Street Journal's Joseph Rago in the newspaper's "Weekend Interview" that the US enterprise in Iraq is "anything but conservative" and that it lacks a "certain submission to reality."

Bush agenda:

Time Magazine's Mike Allen reports that Vice President Cheney has seen "better times" but that "all he cares about is history, not today's headlines." LINK

More "record low approval ratings" beame talk show chatter this weekend, courtesy of Newsweek's latest poll numbers. LINK

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