The Note: Rhetoric and Reality



The events of this week are enough to make The Note nostalgic for the glory years of 2003 and 2004.

The Bush White House putting out oppo-research-driven, sharp elbowed press releases (from foreign soil no less!!!) that mention Michael Moore.

John Kerry and Co. shouting about Dick Cheney's Vietnam-era deferments and "other priorities."

The Bush White House deploying the bad cop (Bush), worse cop (Cheney), and nuclear cops (selected Hill Republicans) to question the judgment, patriotism (yes, Mr. Subliminal), honor, integrity, etc. of the Democrats (after the Democrats thought they could play fast and loose with the facts and call the President a liar).

The Democrats thinking that saying "Look, America!!! An unpopular war and a rising wrong-track number!!! Vote for us!!!" is a winning electoral strategy.

The Bush White House taking on the New York Times and David Gregory by name for alleged factual inaccuracies.

An establishment media and 4/5 of the Gang of 500 totally against the war and thinking that the President is even more foolish to double down on betting his presidency on Iraq than he was in making the original wager.

A Bush White House -- while waiting for facts on the ground in Iraq to improve and recognizing that wrong track is currently hideous -- seeking to turn public debate into a choice between a "strong, resolute" Bush and a weak, lily-livered Democrat (DeanGorePelosiMooooooooooooooooooooooooooore) Party, rather than a referendum on Bush-Cheney.

On the one hand, Democrats who were giddy over Congressman Murtha's emotional "come home, America" performance have to wonder when people like Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Bill Richardson, and others have to actually take a position on troop withdrawal. Murtha had a good news cycle, but does anyone think he would score well this weekend on JayWalking?

Beyond Iraq, the laundry list of other Republican problems is too long and boring for us to type again, but it doesn't amount to a Hill of beans compared to dealing with a war that is unpopular and whose 2006 presence frightens the party's congressional wing.

The New York Sun's globetrotting Josh Gerstein gets Stephen Hess to speak truth to power: LINK

"Mr. Hess said he believes that many of the problems Mr. Bush is facing are proxies for or at least dwarfed by the situation in Iraq. 'These are irritants, foot faults. Basically, his problem is the American people are fast losing patience with Iraq,' the professor said."

Michael Fletcher of the Washington Post just misses must-read status in systematically surveying the strategy and tactics of the Bush-Cheney-Rove-Bartlett-Wallace pushback on the war. LINK

All of this will rock and roil over the weekend into the talk shows, if the last 3.8 mini-news cycles are any indication.

Before you went to sleep. . .

- The AP's John Solomon reported that Vice President Cheney was not Bob Woodward's original mid-June 2003 source on Wilson's wife working at the CIA. LINK

While you were sleeping. . .

- NSA Hadley played coy with the press corps in Korea and strongly hinted that he is also not the source.

- The Senate voted to extend tax cuts, but not those tricky ones of the capital gains variety.

- The House voted to cut nearly $50 billion over 10 years from the budget in a close 217-215 vote.

- NSA Hadley touted the Administration's (hard) line on Murtha.

- Anti-Bush and anti-APEC protesters made their presence known in Korea.

- "Suicide bombers killed 65 worshippers at two mosques in eastern Iraq on Friday while in Baghdad two car bombs targeted a hotel housing foreign journalists and killed eight Iraqis," reports the AP.

Since you woke up this morning. . .

- Nicolle Wallace offered "nothing but respect" for Rep. Murtha, vehemently disagreed with his policy positions, welcomed a very honest debate on Iraq policy, and provided some insta-fact checking of David Gregory's reporting on the air.

At this writing, Ms. Wallace's boss, President Bush, has gone to bed for the evening in Busan, South Korea. At 6:45 pm ET he will meet with the President of Indonesia and then head to an 8:00 pm ET APEC meeting. Following the meeting, President Bush will partake in the official APEC luncheon and photo opportunity. The President will spend the weekend in Beijing, where the Wall Street Journal says his political "weakness" will not be taken advantage of by the Chinese.

The Senate convened at 9:00 am ET to begin consideration of H. J. Res. 72, the Continuing Resolution Appropriations bill.

Judge Alito plans on paying courtesy calls to four more Senators today before the Thanksgiving recess begins and before he begins spending more time in murder boards and less time visiting with Senators.

His Senate schedule for the day:

9:00 am - 9:45 am - Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)

11:30 am - 12:15 pm - Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)

12:45 pm - 1:30 pm - Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI)

2:00 pm - 2:45 pm - Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)

NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds hosts a pen and pad briefing for reporters at 10:30 am ET at NRCC headquarters in Washington, DC.

There will be a public court hearing before Judge Walton at US District Court in Washington, DC at 1:30 pm ET on objections that have been filed by news organizations to the proposed order in the CIA leak case which seeks to keep the discovery materials in the Libby trial secret. Dow Jones had filed a request to unseal the eight pages of secret classified information provided to the US Court by Fitzgerald when Miller and Cooper's contempt status was being negotiated. The hearing will also cover additional secret materials which will be reviewed by Libby's lawyers as they prepare for trial. It is unclear if Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald will be in town for this hearing.

At 4:30 pm ET, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and three former intelligence officials are scheduled to hold a telephone-based press conference to discuss a letter 16 former intelligence officials have sent to the President asking him "to pledge not to pardon anyone found guilty of taking part in the disclosure of a CIA officer's identity, and to revoke the security clearance of any White House official found to have discussed the officer's identity with reporters."

Sens. Durbin (D-IL), Sununu (R-NH), and others plan to oppose the Patriot Act conference report at a 10:30 am ET press conference in the Senate studio.

At 11:00 am ET Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) and professor Paul Light hold a news conference to release a new report on American preparedness in a post-Katrina world.

Sen. McCain (R-AZ) is scheduled to deliver a speech at the Trent Lott Leadership Institute Lecture Series at 4:00 pm ET in Oxford, MS. McCain is also expected to deliver some straight talk on the Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35 pm ET. The Arizona Republican continues his Deep South tour this weekend and into next week in Mississippi, South Carolina, and Alabama.

Gov. Mark Warner (D-VA) heads to the Granite State today. He kicks off the day with Gov. Lynch (D-NH) at Nashua High School South for an education roundtable. Warner will then speak at a noon ET luncheon with New Hampshire's Senate Democratic Caucus at the Puritan Backroom Conference Center in Manchester, NH. (Not to worry if you can't make it to Manchester; C-SPAN will be airing his remarks on "Road to the White House" at 6:30 and 9:30 pm ET on Sunday.) You can check out Gov. Warner's new federal PAC, "Forward Together," here: LINK

"I'll be sure and get some photos for Governor Warner's first visit to New Hampshire as Forward Together's Honorary Chair. It won't be our last either, as there's a few Republican-held seats here that the PAC would like to help turn Democratic in 2006," writes blogger Jerome Armstrong of fame who is working on internet strategy for the Warner-headed PAC.

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman participates in a volunteer appreciation event at 10:00 am ET in La Veta, CO.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean will headline a 5:30 pm ET Duval County Democratic Executive Committee Jefferson-Jackson reception in Jacksonville, FL.

On Sunday the two national party chairs will be together at the AIPAC dinner in Philadelphia, PA.

Rep. Tancredo (R-CO) is scheduled to be the featured guest at Rep. Steve King's (R-IA) "Homecoming Banquet" in Alta, IA tomorrow evening.

Sen. Allen (R-VA) heads to London tomorrow before moving on to his visits to India, Pakistan, China, and Taiwan.

The debate over Iraq is sure to continue through the weekend. Tune in to "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on Sunday morning to catch his interview with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

On Monday, Sen. Biden (D-DE) will deliver a 12:45 pm ET speech on Iraq to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, NY. Vice President Cheney will be delivering the Administration's message that day at an 11:00 am ET speech at the American Enterprise Institute.

Politics of Iraq:

The Los Angeles Times' Ron Brownstein wisely separates the pre-war intelligence debate from the debate over the path forward in Iraq in his Los Angeles Times news analysis and Notes how both political parties have arguably stiffened their spines for both of these debates. LINK

The Republican National Committee is taking its web video highlighting pre-war comments by high-profile Democrats supportive of the war and throwing a little money behind it (the RNC refuses to disclose the actual size of the buy) to get it up on television this weekend on national cable and in select broadcast markets including the Senate Minority Leader's home-state Las Vegas market.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal has more: LINK

In twin editorials, the Wall Street Journal slaps the Senate -- singling out Dr./Leader/Sen. Frist -- for a "Washington Retreat" -- and slaps Bill Clinton, with a greatest-hit quote from a Time interview the FPOTUS did a while back.

E.J. Dionne says the fat lady has sung on the President's Iraq policy. LINK

The New York Times ledes with Murtha's call for immediate withdrawal. LINK

The Los Angeles Times: LINK

Andrea Stone of USA Today reports that Murtha's combat history and lack of controversy give him the credibility to call for the pull-out. LINK

"In an interview with ABC News, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) said the deadly attacks on hotels in Amman are 'the whirlwind that we are reaping if we don't end the extreme ground involvement that we have in Iraq,'" reports ABC News' Teddy Davis. LINK

The Washington Post Metro section piece on Cindy Shaheen's conviction in a DC court Thursday. LINK

The Fitzgerald investigation:

Deborah Orin of the New York Post continues to scratch possible Woodward sources off her list. Orin reports Colin Powell denied that he leaked Valerie Plame's name to Bob Woodward, although two of his former top aides ducked the issue. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's McKinnon and Squeo also seem to tip towards Marc Grossman and Armitage as Woodward's first source, and joins the AP in clearing Cheney.

The New York Times has Marc Grossman ruled out as the source and reports that Secretary of State Rice has yet to comment on whether or not she is the source. LINK

The New York Times has Washington Post executive editor Len Downie saying that if another reporter was to independently acquire reporting on Woodward's source, the paper would likely print it. Note, too, the division over Woodward's role in the Post newsroom. LINK

That's a slippery slope on that Downie point, wethinks. Discuss.

Chuck Lane in the Washington Post on Walter Pincus and Wen Ho Lee after yesterday's court action. LINK

Alito for Associate Justice:

Gang of 14 member Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) has raised doubts about Samuel Alito and has stated that a filibuster is still an option, reports Charles Hurt of the Washington Times. LINK

Salazar's post-meeting remarks get some local coverage too. LINK

The New York Post's Ian Bishop on a tight-lipped Sen. Clinton after her meeting with Judge Alito: LINK

In the Washington Post, Michael Kinsley decodes the abortion meta-fight brilliantly. LINK

The Associated Press wraps the three Alito-related television ads released yesterday. LINK

David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times writes, "Although the initial purchases for the next week amounted to only a few hundred thousand dollars from each side, the groups pledged to spend as much as needed over the two months leading up to the confirmation hearings." LINK

(And Doug Mills, once again, struts his stuff!)

Bush agenda:

A bipartisan group of Senators have stated the conference version of the Patriot Act reauthorization is unacceptable and are threatening to block it, reports Audrey Hudson of the Washington Times. LINK

The New York Times has more: LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

"House Republican leaders eked out an important budget victory early today, only hours after suffering an embarrassing defeat on a major spending bill," writes Joel Havemann and Richard Simon of the Los Angeles Times. LINK

"After weeks of turmoil within its own ranks, the House's GOP majority passed a far-reaching bill to reduce the federal deficit by cutting benefit programs, such as Medicaid and food stamps, by about $50 billion over the next five years. The tally was 217 to 215, with no Democrats supporting the measure."

Before the Senate tax cut vote and the House budget reconciliation vote occurred, the New York Times put this on its front page, "House Republican leaders were dealt a rare defeat Thursday as Democrats and 22 Republicans teamed up to kill a major health and education spending measure." LINK

Politics of national security:

Dana Priest of the Washington Post with another front-page blockbuster -- this time about CIA-led joint operations centers around the world that fight terror bilaterally -- and in the case of the one in France, multilaterally. LINK

The New York Times on the latest Pew poll numbers on American attitudes toward America's foreign policy: LINK


The Houston Chronicle on the latest twists and turns in the DeLay case including the former majority leader's defense team issuing subpoenas for grand jurors to testify at Tuesday's pretrial hearing. LINK


Sue Schmidt of the Washington Post on Federici's face-off with Sen. McCain. LINK

"Their 90-minute encounter on Thursday was hostile, with Mr. McCain, an Arizona Republican, repeatedly warning Ms. Federici that she could be held in contempt if she did not answer the panel's questions," writes Anne Kornblut of the New York Times. LINK

"McCain has said he intends to issue a report on the committee's findings early next year," reports the Los Angeles Times. LINK

The Bushes of Houston and the Clintons of Chappaqua:

Al Kamen in the Washington Post says 41/42 might do the May Tulane commencement together. LINK

2008: Democrats:

Christina Bellantoni of the Washington Times examines Gov. Mark Warner's Forward Together PAC website and reads potential presidential ambitions between the lines. LINK

The Boston Globe picks up Sen. Kerry's CNN comments that he would obviously like to be president, but that no 2008 commitment was made. LINK

Russia expert John Edwards makes Peter Baker's Washington Post story on Bush and Putin. LINK

In India on Thursday, Edwards said that outsourcing to India is causing American workers to lose their jobs. LINK

2008: Republicans:

The Boston Globe's Scot Helman writes of Gov. Romney's potential predicament: ". . .the Democrat-controlled Legislature has yet to provide Romney clear-cut victories that he could boast about if he runs for president, and it's not clear if or when lawmakers will in the future." LINK

New Hampshire:

John DiStaso reports in the New Hampshire Union Leader that Gov. John Lynch (D-NH) hosted his second fundraiser in less than a month last night. LINK

Tony Bertuca, writing as a special contributor to the New Hampshire Union Leader, explores the life of a Northeastern moderate Republican from a Blue State through the musings of Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH). LINK

You've read much this week of New Hampshire Democrats taking a more aggressive approach about protecting its role in the nomination process. New Hampshire Democratic Chairwoman Kathy Sullivan tells The Note the four main talking points she will make to any commissioner on the DNC panel who will listen. Sullivan says keeping New Hampshire's primary role ahead of the rest of the pack and allowing other states to go after New Hampshire but before the window opens accomplishes these four goals:

- increase diversity

- decrease frontloading

- elect a Democratic president

- preserve grassroots tradition

We'll all be watching the December 10 final meeting of the commission to see if the sales pitch is successful.


In his National Journal column today, Charlie Cook writes that Democratic chances for regaining the House majority "will hinge on whether the political environment (assuming it continues to be pro-Democratic) can trump Republicans' structural advantages in protecting their majority."

William Weld chats with the New York Times' Sam Dillon about the recent collapse of the vocational college he headed in Kentucky and the ongoing FBI investigation into that collapse. Neither Michael McKeon nor Howard Wolfson sound as if this is a positive development for the fledgling Weld campaign. LINK

Fred Dicker of the New York Post writes up the fury Randy Daniels, a would-be Republican candidate for governor, has for the head of the state Republican Party for pushing Weld's candidacy. LINK

R.G Ratcliffe of the Houston Chronicle reports that the Texas Republican party has agreed on corporate campaign spending limits in 2006 in order to save themselves from being charged for 2002 election violations. LINK

Political potpourri:

The George Ryan vs. Phil Gramm sideshow at the former Illinois Governor's trial is captured beautifully by the Chicago Tribune with the quotable Gramm showing he hasn't lost his art of the soundbite mastery. LINK

Pete Slevin of the Washington Post on John Weaver's cameo at the Ryan trial. LINK

Sen. Harkin will have to do without his name on a CDC building in Atlanta, GA, reports the Des Moines Register's Jane Norman. LINK

The Massachusetts GOP continues its drive to gather signatures to ban same sex marriage in the Bay State. LINK