WASHINGTON, Nov. 17
The war of words over pre-war intelligence gets Cheneyized; the House moves towards a very interesting budget vote; the President stares down North Korea; Tom Davis fears Roe being overturned; and Alito filibuster talk gets subtly ratcheted up. :
But focus on exactly one question, or you will be missing the zeitgeist of the Gang of 500: did Bob Woodward's original source about Valerie Wilson leave his/her boss in the dark about all this as much as Woodward left Len Downie in the dark? :
Ok: and another question -- does that source's boss now know all the facts? :
And one more -- when does Woodward do his first TV interview, and with whom? :
(Blogs: take over.) :
It seems there will be no more scheduled opportunities for tough talk from President Bush in Korea to reverberate back here at home for the remainder of the East Coast day. President Bush is scheduled to meet with ASEAN leaders at 7:35 pm ET, leaders of the Americas at 9:00 pm ET, and a bilat with President Putin at 10:00 pm ET. :
On this side of the world, the Senate convenes at 9:30 am ET with ten hours of debate remaining on the tax reconciliation bill. :
The Senate Radio-TV Gallery reports, "The Senate's schedule for the rest of the week remains somewhat uncertain. After tax reconciliation, there remain several appropriations conference reports, the Patriot Act conference report, and yet another continuing resolution. The possibility of a weekend session remains, according to the leadership, 'very likely.'":
Judge Alito's courtesy call dance card for today:
9:15 am - 10:00 am -- Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO)
10:30 am - 11:15 am -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY)
11:45 pm - 12:30 pm -- Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO)
2:15 pm - 3:00 pm -- Sen. John Kerry (R-MA)
3:30 pm - 4:15 pm -- Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH)
4:45 pm - 5:30 pm -- Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Before heading off for the Thanksgiving recess, Democratic Senators will gather to recap 2005 which they unsurprisingly see as a year full of Republican failures to address America's priorities. Freshman Democratic Sens. Obama and Salazar will speak at a 2:15 pm ET press conference with a great many members of their caucus standing behind them.
Along similar lines, Sen. Schumer (D-NY) will be joined by Reps. Emanuel (D-IL) and Hoyer (D-MD) at the DSCC at 12:30 pm ET to unveil a "report" that, according to the press advisory, "shows that the GOP Congress' support for the Bush agenda far exceeds the support that previous presidents have had from their party in Congress in recent years."
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is scheduled to hold her weekly press conference at 2:30 pm ET at the Capitol.
Sens. Harkin (D-IA), Kennedy (D-MA), and Durbin (D-IL) will discuss the Labor HHS Appropriations conference report at 11:30 am ET. Bird flu will be one of the many topics discussed.
The "Emergency Campaign for America's Priorities" hosts a 10:00 am ET rally and demonstration to oppose budget cuts outside the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, DC.
Executives of the National Association of Manufacturers, the Edison Electric Institute, the American Petroleum Institute, and others will host a fundraising reception for Congressman Tom DeLay's (R-TX) re-election committee in Washington, DC this evening. The Houston Chronicle's Samantha Levine has more: LINK (Note to event organizers: have a plan in place for protesters, and for a press stakeout.)
Gov.-elect Tim Kaine (D-VA) holds a 12:30 pm ET press conference in the Governor's Conference Room in Richmond, VA to announce "major appointments" to his administration.
Gov.-elect Jon Corzine (D-NJ) makes remarks at noon ET at the New Jersey League of Municipalities luncheon in Atlantic City, NJ. He is not expected to announce his choice of successor to his seat in the United States Senate.
UN Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie meets with Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) and others regarding UN Millenium development goals at 2:30 pm ET. Jolie also plans to make remarks at a 4:00 pm ET press conference.
RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman attends a volunteer appreciation event in Denver, CO at 9:00 pm ET.
RNC Co-Chair Jo Ann Davidson hosts the RNC Women's Regional Leadership Conference in Columbus, OH which features Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway's 12:15 pm ET keynote address.
Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO, Karen Nussbaum of the AFL-CIO's community affiliate "Working America," and others will hold a press conference call at 11:30 am ET to unveil an online database highlighting more than 60,000 American employers and claims of their OSHA violations, cases involving violations of worker rights, and job exporting practices.
Politics of Iraq:
Ed Chen of the Los Angeles Times on the rising Bush/Cheney attack mode (black tie optional). LINK
Per the New York Times, Vice President Cheney continued the White House's pushback on critics of pre-war intel at the Mayflower Hotel, calling the charges by Senate Democrats "dishonest and reprehensible." LINK
The White House's Nicolle Wallace tells USA Today, "Our strategy has to include hitting back." LINK
"Fighting Words" was the first headline out of Matt Lauer's mouth this morning on "Today" when describing the President and Vice President's posture against their political opponents in the debate over the Iraq war.
Two days after the RNC released a web video, the DNC has released one of its own. The video uses Sen. Warner's (R-VA) words during the floor debate on the Iraq-related amendments this week asserting that his amendment (which passed 79-19) is a "very powerful" statement, but the video says nothing about how he vehemently opposed the Levin version of the amendment requiring an estimated timetable for eventual redeployment of troops.
Rep. Hayworth's (R-AZ) comments to Imus last week that he currently does not want the President campaigning for him in Arizona are also included in the DNC video.
At the end of each clip, the screen is stamped with "No Confidence." And the video closes with the new/old Democratic slogan, "Together, America can do better."
The RNC is delivering a DVD of its web video to every Republican Senator and Representative today just in time for them to take it home over the Thanksgiving recess.
The New York Times editorial board writes that "No matter how the White House chooses to spin it, the United States Senate cast a vote of no confidence this week on the war in Iraq." LINK
Bill Sammon reports in the Washington Times that President Bush hailed the Senate defeat of legislation that would have established a timetable for a U.S. pull-out from Iraq. LINK
Sen. John McCain takes to the New York Post editorial page to defend his vote against the Senate resolution on Iraq, saying that the Senate has its priorities upside down and may be "aiding and abetting" U.S. enemies with the move. LINK
The New York Daily News speculates on apparent growing tension between the Bush and Clinton camps over Iraq, after Clinton criticized the war as "a big mistake" in a speech in Dubai this week. LINK
"Angered at being used as a scapegoat by the White House, ex-President Bill Clinton fired back yesterday, saying the Iraq war was 'a big mistake.'"
The New York Post's editorial board hits Clinton on his Iraq comments. LINK
The general commanding 30,000 troops in Baghdad yesterday called a withdrawal schedule for Iraq "a recipe for disaster." LINK
In a sign that the native insurgency in Iraq has not diminished, the Washington Post reports on its front page that a massive US-Iraqi sweep for insurgents has yielded few foreigners. LINK
The Fitzgerald investigation:
Howard Kurtz writes up Bob Woodward's apology for the Washington Post. LINK
"I'm in the habit of keeping secrets," Woodward told the Washington Post, "I didn't want anything out there that was going to get me subpoenaed."
More Kurtz: "The belated revelation that Woodward has been sitting on information about the Plame controversy reignited questions about his unique relationship with The Post while he writes books with unparalleled access to high-level officials, and about why Woodward denigrated the Fitzgerald probe in television and radio interviews while not divulging his own involvement in the matter."
And still more: "Exactly what triggered Woodward's disclosure to Downie remains unclear."
Bob Woodward tells the Los Angeles Times that he would change his tone in recent interviews about Fitzgerald's investigation if he had to do over again. Tom Hamburger and Richard Schmitt also report that lawyers who represent clients involved in the case do not seem to think Woodward's revelations are quite the bombshell Scooter Libby's attorney believes it is. LINK
In a news analysis, Carol Leonnig and Jim VandeHei write for the Washington Post that Woodward could be a boon to Libby. LINK
They also add this: "Rove's defense team also believes he could benefit tangentially from the Woodward disclosure because it shows other officials were discussing Plame in casual ways and that others have foggy recollections of the period as well, according to a Republican source close to Rove."
However, Bloomberg's Keil and Jensen write that Woodward's disclosure adds an unexpected new element to the Libby indictment "without greatly altering the substance of the case." LINK
While the Woodward disclosure may muddy the Libby prosecution, the Wall Street Journal's Squeo and McKinnon report that the White House must now "brace itself" for the possibility that Fitzgerald's probe, "far from winding down, may have just gotten a second wind."
Prosecutors deposed Woodward in anticipation of presenting that evidence to a new grand jury, according to a person familiar with the situation. And that is exclusive new news, courtesy of Dow Jones.
The Journal also floats the possibility that the Woodward and Novak source is the same person.
The New York Times Todd Purdum writes that Woodward's revelation threatened "to prolong a politically damaging leak investigation that the White House had hoped would soon be contained," but that it also gave lawyers for Libby "fresh evidence to support his defense." LINK
The New York Times looks at the new questions surrounding Woodward, who "has juggled his roles as star reporter, assistant managing editor and best-selling author, managing to keep those roles from colliding. But collide they have, and in spectacular fashion. . . ." LINK
In the newspaper's Marketplace section, the Wall Street Journal's Joe Hagin has Dana Milbank saying of the Woodward disclosure in an e-mail: "Obviously people here feel let down." Milbank added, however, that "it hasn't had the demoralizing effect that the Judy Miller debacle had at the Times." LINK
"Withdraw the Libby indictment," reads a Washington Times editorial. LINK
Fitzgerald has joined People's "Sexiest Men Alive," the Reliable Source reports. LINK
Alito for Associate Justice:
The television ad campaigns for and against Judge Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court (as first previewed earlier this week by the New York Times) are ramping up.
The pro-Alito "Committee for Justice" released a television ad today which won't begin airing until next week aimed far less at touting Alito than at opposing People for the American Way and other liberal groups. The ad will air in states President Bush won in 2004 which have Democratic Senators representing them. (They include: Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, Montana, Arkansas, Colorado, and, of course, Washington, DC.) It is unclear how much money is being spent on the one-week buy.
Taking a more pro-Alito approach and less of an anti-liberal approach, Progress for America Inc. (PFA) today announced a week long $150,000 advertising buy to combat what they call the "unfair attacks" from People for the American Way.
The 60-second TV ad is called "Confirm" and will run on national cable stations -- CNN and FOX -- and local cable stations in Maine and Arkansas. The ad features praise and commendation from Judge Alito's former clerks.
The liberal coalition under the "Alliance for Justice" banner will release its first television ad in opposition to Alito's confirmation today. The ad will begin airing on national cable news channels and in targeted broadcast markets (read: Maine and Rhode Island -- states won by John Kerry in 2004 and represented by moderate Republicans in the Senate) tomorrow. Alliance for Justice would not reveal how much money is being spent on the one-week buy, but called it a "solid initial buy."
The four main topics in the anti-Alito ad are: the 1985 job application in which Alito expressed his anti-abortion rights views, civil rights, employment discrimination, and the now-infamous strip search case.
In his online column, Howard Fineman thinks that 1985 document may push the Senate much closer to the nuclear option than previously suspected. LINK
The New York Times' David Kirkpatrick writes that the battle over Alito's nomination "escalated into a full-fledged fight in the Senate Wednesday as top Democrats sounded new alarms about his approach to the law and Republicans warned that any effort to block a vote on him would be 'outrageous.'" LINK
Jonathan Allen reports in The Hill that some Democrats are resuming their anti-Alito offensive. LINK
The New York Times also examines Alito's civil rights decisions, writing that while his record is not one-sided, fellow appeals court judges have accused him of "minimizing America's history of racial discrimination, weakening the courts in dealing with bias claims and placing barriers in the path of employees' civil rights suits." LINK
The New York Post on Sen. Schumer's warnings on Alito yesterday: LINK
Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), per the Boston Globe's Nina Easton, says he's worried about how suburban voters might react to overturning Roe v. Wade. "''It's nice to make a stand' against abortion, he said, when 'it's not a real bullet, it's more theoretical.'" LINK
The New York Times reports that Congress is near agreement on renewal of most aspects of the Patriot Act, "a significant and somewhat surprising victory for the Bush administration in maintaining the government's expanded powers to investigate, monitor and track terror suspects." LINK
The Washington Post's David Broder looks at SEIU's "SinceSlicedBread.com" contest, praises Ron Wyden's "Fair Flat Tax Act of 2005," and urges Democrats to offer "more than criticism when it comes time to fix the tax system." LINK
Roll Call Executive Editor Morton M. Kondracke examines the possibility of a Bush impeachment if the Democrats win enough seats in the 2006 election.
Roxana Tiron of The Hill examines who would win the 2004 presidential election if it were held this year. LINK
Big Casino budget politics:
Alaska's "Bridges to Nowhere" get the congressional wrecking ball. LINK
But be sure to Note that the move against the "symbols of congressional excess" won't save the federal budget any money, according to the New York Times. "Instead, the $442 million will be turned over to the state with no strings attached, allowing lawmakers and the governor there to parcel it out for transportation projects as they see fit, including the bridges should they so choose."
The Washington Post also Notes that yesterday's move over the "Bridge to Nowhere" was "largely symbolic." LINK
The Wall Street Journal's David Rogers Notes that the House deficit-reduction package is expected to be changed in ways that address complaints about food stamps and health care for the poor.
Amy Fagan writes in the Washington Times about infighting between House Republicans on the issue of government spending. LINK
Reprising an argument that he first raised Sunday on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," George F. Will warns that the conservative coalition, "which is coming unglued for many reasons, will rapidly disintegrate if limited-government conservatives become convinced that social conservatives are unwilling to concentrate their character-building and soul-saving energies on the private institutions that mediate between individuals and government, and instead try to conscript government into sectarian crusades." LINK
Will warns that if GOPers don't get spending under control, "limited-government conservatives will dissociate from a Republican Party more congenial to overreaching social conservatives. Then those Republican congressional caucuses will be smaller, and Republican control of the executive branch will be rarer."
The politics of national security:
The New York Times' David Sanger on the differing approaches between South Korea and the U.S. on how to handle North Korea: LINK
Bob Novak rails against "nuisance litigation by prisoners" at Guantanamo, and praises the Senate for keeping non-citizens from invoking habeas corpus. LINK
A federal judge found the Washington Post's Walter Pincus in contempt of court yesterday for refusing to reveal who gave him information about an investigation of nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee. LINK
Prosecutors in Texas are seeking more documents in the Tom DeLay case, focusing on between DeLay's political action committee to a committee for current House Majority Leader Rep. Roy Blunt. LINK
Siding with the folks of New Hampshire and Iowa, Carl P. Leubsdorf of the Dallas Morning News looks at the proposal to add more contests between Iowa and New Hampshire in 2008. This would only "increase the advantage to the best-known, best-financed candidates, reduce further the chance for an unknown to emerge and prevent the scrutiny the system should provide." LINK
New Hampshire Democratic State Party Chair Kathy Sullivan tells John DiStaso of the Union Leader that if the DNC tries to add more caucuses prior to the NH primary, "we will go to the mat." LINK
AP reports that Public Citizen, founded by Ralph Nader, seeks additional inquiries into Frist's stock sales, which Frist's spokeswoman dismissed as "just another transparent attempt by a partisan interest group to concoct a political issue." LINK
The New York Times covers similar ground: LINK
A "Draft Giuliani" movement has officially begun: LINK
Bloomberg's Michael Forsythe reports that President Bush's "recent stumbling" over Katrina and Iraq is helping his Democratic opponents collect more cash. The DCCC out-raised its GOP counterpart in September, "the first month this year that's happened." The DSCC has raised $4 million more than its Republican rival this year. LINK
"Democratic supporters are increasingly optimistic they can make gains in the November 2006 congressional elections."
Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton surveys the field of potential Schwarzenegger rivals and finds it, well, lacking. The Democrats, save Warren Beatty or Rob Reiner, will likely end up with no-names like Treasurer Phil Angelides or Controller Steve Westly. Writes Skelton, "Resign yourselves." LINK
California's Schwarzenegger-appointed Secretary of State will run for reelection. LINK
Politics of Katrina:
The Los Angeles Times reports on how the racial and geographical shifts that followed Hurricane Katrina are changing the power structure inside Louisiana legislature. Says one lawmaker: "This state has totally changed politically. I think it's going to be probably one of the most conservative states in the South." LINK
The New York Times looks at whether New Orleans will be able to hold municipal elections in February as scheduled, and whether Mayor Nagin can be re-elected with the city's population so dramatically altered. LINK
The Wall Street Journal's Cooper and Mullins report that although images of a devastated Crescent City dominated Katrina news coverage, Mississippi "may boast more Washington clout than Louisiana in the scramble for federal recovery money"
Per Bloomberg's Neil Roland, Karl Rove and Kenneth Tomlinson, then chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, discussed creating a "conservative'" talk show and adding it to the public television lineup, the organization's top investigator said. LINK
The Wall Street Journal's ed board runs a lengthy piece on "PBS and Us."
The Washington Post's Dan Eggen reports that a team of DOJ lawyers and analysts who reviewed a Georgia voter-identification law recommended "rejecting it" because it was likely to "discriminate against black voters," but they were overruled the next day by "higher-ranking officials" at Justice, according to department documents. LINK
We expect the DNC press operation to be in full swing on this one today.
The Washington Post's John Wagner previews the coming Wal-Mart battle in Maryland over legislation that would "effectively force the company to boost spending on employee health benefits." LINK