The Note: 535 Secretaries of State

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15

NEWS SUMMARY

With the move today in the Senate led by Dr./Leader/Sen. Frist to head off a Democratic effort to (let's face it) bring the troops home, facts on the ground be darned, the Congress is now hurtling down the slippery slope.

"Stay the course," "be patient," "show resolve," and "don't let the terrorists win" are, apparently not compatible with the 2006 sensibilities of a majority that wants to stay a majority.

Make no mistake -- Frist and Sen. Warner don't want to tie White House hands as much as Sens. Reid and Kennedy do. But Gulliver is going on his back, and the Republican leadership has decided that they must at least be seen helping tie him down.

As for Tuesday's political Story Two of Two: why won't the White House or any other avowedly pro-life backer of Judge Alito say, "Yippie!!!!! We had no litmus test and didn't know about this Reagan-era job application, but we are delighted as all get-out that Judge Alito felt very strongly that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion. Although we can't be sure what will happen, we hope with all our might that (1) he gets confirmed; (2) a case presents itself as soon as possible to the Supreme Court which can serve as an appropriate vehicle for overturning Roe; and (3) that a Justice Alito votes to overturn Roe (as part of a majority, if possible)."

And yet, and yet: no one is saying that. The Note officially wonders why that is. (We don't really. . .)

Here's another chance to see if you qualify for honorary or actual Gang of 500 membership, based on your understanding of the days two big stories.

For each question below, see if you can figure out the significance of the question (honorary membership) and then the answer (consider yourself a Gang member if you got the actual answers):

On Alito:

1. Why aren't any conservatives uttering a version of our made up "yippee!" quote above?

2. Did the White House play a role in making that (not) happen?

3. If so, how did they do it?

4. Is it a coincidence that a media-savvy woman, Wendy Long of the Judicial Confirmation Network, was everywhere in the media yesterday on message in reaction (We can't tell from this how Judge Alito will vote on any case, Judge Alito is a strict constructionist, look at his record on the bench, blah blah blah)?

5. Why did the story break cleanly and exclusively in the Washington Times on Monday, before the document was released to the world?

6. When did the White House find out about the document?

7. Did Alito remember writing the document from the time he was first contacted about being on the court?

8. How much work at the Reagan library have the left-wing groups done over the last 3 years on Alito?

On the Republican Senate gambit on Iraq:

1. Why did the New York Times get a newspaper semi-exclusive on the release of the plan?

2. Are Senate Republicans motivated by politics, a (belated) desire to exercise good old fashioned legislative oversight, or some combination?

3. Why did Senator Frist go on a network morning show to trumpet this, rather than play it down?

4. How does the White House feel about this?

5. Was the White House read in enough in advance to shape the plan?

6. What will House Republican leaders do about this?

7. Have Frist and Warner counted votes and what do they want the outcome to be?

8. Who will cross party lines on this vote?

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