The Note: Rooting Interest



Today's Note lede is

A. Predicated on the always-important distinction between "what is" and "what ought to be."

B. Based 1/3 on content and "look-and-feel" analysis of the Old Media; 1/3 on expert table hopping in the last 24 hours at the Palm, the Oval Room, and the Regency; and 1/3 on trained gut(s).

C. Guaranteed to be read aloud on "The Rush Limbaugh Show" today at around 12:20 pm ET.

D. All of the above.

(The correct answer, as always, is "D.")

Leaving aside for today the debate about whether the Old Media is liberally biased -- and leaving aside for today the debate over what James Carville would call "the President's record of failure and corruption" -- all of the Republican Party's problems boil down to this:

Between now and the State of the Union speech at the end of next month (both an eternity and an eye blink), the Old Media is rooting for certain things.

Let's be clear: not every journalist in every case is rooting for these things. But the dominant sweep of the tone of the coverage now and through January (and quite possibly beyond that) is based on press desires:

1. The President should cave in and bring the troops home from Iraq.

2. The moderate Republicans in the House should get to be more powerful than a locomotive, and pretty much dictate what goes in every bill.

3. Meaning: there should be no drilling in ANWR.

4. Senators Snowe and Collins should announce their opposition to Judge Alito's nomination.

5. Filibustering Supreme Court nominees is fine; the nuclear option is not.

6. The Fitzgerald investigation should widen to include more Bush Administration officials, but not other reporters.

7. Jack Abramoff should sing like Whitney Houston did early in her career -- loud, strong, and long.

8. Republican civil war should break out over immigration.

9. The Frist probe should widen.

10. Tom DeLay should be convicted and lose his leadership post forever.

11. Despite all this, the President should be super nice to us during the photo receiving line at the media White House holiday parties.

How would Don Evans, Don Fierce, Don Sipple, Mary Matalin, Ken Duberstein, Ed Gillespie, Bill Kristol, Karen Hughes, Sig Rogich, and Mark McKinnon suggest the White House and its Hill allies solve this problem?

Perhaps we are about to find out.

But first: President Bush meets with the Director-General of the World Health Organization in the Oval Office at 10:45 am ET before headlining a RNC fundraiser expected to raise $1 million from donors who have given $25,000 this year at Evermay at noon ET. Later in the day, President Bush meets with Jewish leaders and attends a White House Hannukah ceremony.

Vice President Cheney will deliver remarks on the war on terror at Ft. Drum, NY at 11:45 am ET.

Per ABC News' Karen "Notey" Travers: "An Administration official says that the Vice President's remarks today, as part of the effort to talk to the American people about the strategy for victory in Iraq, will detail the advancements being made there (such as training of Iraqi forces and political successes)."

"The Vice President will address the challenges the U.S. faces in the 'dynamic situation on the ground.'"

"This official Noted that Cheney will spend time with the 42nd Infantry Division returning home from Iraq and will participate in a re-enlistment ceremony with the 10th Mountain Division."

An SAO tells Travers Notebook: "The debate has evolved since the last VP speech on Iraq so his remarks have as well. You'll see that in the tone."

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. A change which way, we wonder.

The Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, a case involving whether universities can bar military recruiters from campuses to protest the Pentagon's policy of excluding openly gay people at 10:00 am ET. The audio will be released at approximately 11:00 am ET.

The House comes back into session today.

With the national media watching for immigration tea leaves, polls open at 10:00 am ET and close at 11:00 pm ET in the special election in California's 48th congressional district to replace former Rep. Chris Cox. The Los Angeles Times on the heated talk radio in the final day of campaigning yesterday. LINK

You can look for election results here: LINK

Polls open at 10:00 am ET and close at 11:00 pm ET in the recall election of Mayor James West in Spokane, WA. You can see election results here: LINK

ABC's Dan Arnall reports, "The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report this morning showing that productivity went up much more than initially expected during the July to September time period. Today's numbers show productivity improved at an annual rate of 4.7%; the fastest pace in two years. The report also shows that labor costs fell (by 1%) during the third quarter. The numbers should ease overall concerns about inflation."

NRSC Chairwoman Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) will be in New Jersey on behalf of Tom Kean, Jr's. Senate campaign, while a Corzine announcement of his chosen replacement for the Senate seat might have happened by the time you read this.

Gov. Mark Warner's (D-VA) "Forward Together" PAC holds its first big event at the Ritz Carlton in Tyson's Corner, VA tonight.

Former President Bill Clinton headlines a fundraiser for Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D-NY) reelection campaign at Crobar in New York City.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) signs books in Cambridge, MA.

Gov. Pataki (R-NY) is in Des Moines, IA today. Sen. Frist (R-TN) is in New Hampshire. Gov. Huckabee (R-AR) is in South Carolina.

"Win Without War" and "United for Peace and Justice," the two largest anti-war coalitions in the country, have organized a nationwide call-in to members of Congress today. Given that member groups of the coalition have different ideas about exactly how soon US troops should leave Iraq, they will each follow their own script. But the consensus message is "Out of Iraq in 2006."


The New York Times headline: "Texas Judge Lets Stand 2 of 3 Charges Against DeLay" LINK

Ralph Blumenthal and Carl Hulse write that the remaining charges are "more serious" and the continuation of the legal process complicates Rep. DeLay's return to his majority leader post in their first graph. The ruling is described by the Times duo in paragraph two as a "partial victory."

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and other unnamed Republicans appear to fully expect new leadership elections in January and the Timesmen report that the topic may come up for internal discussion as soon as tomorrow's caucus gathering.

"DeLay suffered a blow to his efforts to regain his House leadership position," leads the Houston Chronicle's Ratcliffe. LINK

More Ratcliffe: "DeLay's only chance now to avoid trial entirely rests with his challenge to the remaining indictment on the grounds that it was returned by a grand jury as a result of prosecutorial misconduct by Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle."

The Dallas Morning News' coverage: LINK

The DeLay story by the Washington Post's Weisman and Smith has a former GOP leadership aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of crossing DeLay, saying that among House Republicans "the overwhelming feeling is if things are not squared away by the time they come back in January, there will be a petition dropped on the speakers' desk for an election" to permanently replace him. LINK

Bloomberg's Laura Litvan drops the names of Blunt, Boehner, and Reynolds as possible candidates for majority leader. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Brody Mullins Notes that if DeLay thinks the court proceedings will "drag on," he could choose not to run for re-election. "In Texas, Republicans must file for re-election by early January, and Mr. DeLay has yet to do so."

Abramoff, Scanlon, Cunningham, and Frist all get mentions in the Los Angeles Times DeLay story. LINK

Jill Lawrence writes in the Nation's Newspaper that yesterday's DeLay decision came as a new USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll indicated DeLay "may be in political trouble at home." LINK

"[Spokesguy Kevin] Madden called DeLay's low poll numbers a temporary 'snapshot' and said the poll highlights the contrast between 'Tom DeLay, who gets things done for the district, and 'what's-his-face' who nobody in the district even knows.'

Link to the poll results: LINK

Vice President Cheney skipped a White House Christmas party to attend Rep. Delay's campaign fundraiser last night. The Vice President expressed his "deep friendship" with DeLay to the 300 people inside the event paying from $500 to $4200 a plate, according to the Houston Chronicle. LINK

Dean's Democrats:

In an interview with WOAI-AM radio in San Antonio yesterday, DNC Chairman Howard Dean said: "The idea that the United States is going to win the war in Iraq is just plain wrong." LINK

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman said Dean's "outrageous prediction sends the wrong message to our troops, the enemy, and the Iraqi people just 10 days before historic elections."

DNC communications director Karen Finney retorted, "We cannot continue to have a permanent commitment to a failed strategy in Iraq. As every American knows, it's time to change course."

GOP agenda:

Carl Hulse of the New York Times tees up the post-Thanksgiving/pre-Christmas agenda, "House members will try to resolve differences with the Senate over a five-year budget reduction plan, enact a package of tax cuts, wrap up two spending bills and consider immigration legislation," he writes. LINK

The Washington Post's Fletcher and Weisman have Rep. James T. Walsh (R-NY) saying of House GOP plans to try again for a tax-cut vote Thursday: "Obviously, the juxtaposition of cutting taxes and food stamps within a few days is not attractive." LINK

The Washington Post's Weisman and Murray decode the maneuvering taking place on Capitol Hill over the Alternative Minimum Tax. LINK

Bush agenda:

"Administration officials essentially confirmed reports in Time magazine and The Wall Street Journal that Mr. Bush would not put tax overhaul at the top of his agenda for next year," writes Edmund Andrews of the New York Times. LINK

Earlier in the story, Andrews writes of the postponed tax reform plan as "another sign that the president's ambitious economic agenda for his second term has become bogged down."

The New York Times' Bumiller on the President's attempts to "pull Americans out of their gloom about the nation's economy, which has improved in the past two years even though polls show that most people think it has gotten worse." LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Ed Chen's news of day coverage: LINK

The Wall Street Journal's John McKinnon sees hints of a 2006 theme in the President's "campaign-style" remarks on the economy.

A chart in the Nation's Newspaper reads: "Though there are positive signs, some segments of the economy continue to sputter."

The Washington Times' Wesley Pruden lauds the Bush Administration for "finding their fighting clothes" and confronting media "misinformation." LINK

Politics of Iraq:

The Chicago Tribune has Sen. Obama saying: "It is arguable that the best politics going into '06 would be a clear succinct message: `Let's bring our troops home.' " In an interview with the Tribune's editorial board the Senator said that the war splits Democrats. LINK

"In a wide-ranging discussion as his first year in office draws to a close, Obama said, 'there could have been more honesty' as the president argued his case for war. But he stopped short of saying that Bush lied to the American people."

Alito for Associate Justice:

Michael Kranish of the Boston Globe suggests this morning that "the conflict-of-interest issue continues to hinder Alito." Yesterday Sen. Kennedy asked for more information regarding a Vanguard Investment case Alito had personal and professional involvement in and further questions swirl around Alito's association in the Kopp case, a 1987 bank fraud indictment case. LINK

The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne smartly Notes that conservatives involved in the Alito nomination are running from a fight over constitutional principles after proudly proclaiming their desire to have a big debate. LINK

Peter Cannellos writes in his Boston Globe column that Alito's "fuzziness" on abortion may cause Democrats to stand down on a filibuster. LINK

The "Sam Alito saves Christmas" radio ad campaign, courtesy of the Committee for Justice, gets David Kirkpatrick's daily Alito treatment in the New York Times. LINK

In the aforementioned Chicago Tribune interview, Sen. Obama also discussed the Supreme Court, calling his decision to vote against John Roberts' confirmation "the most difficult vote" of the year, and saying he has not decided whether to support Alito's nomination.

Big Casino budget politics:

"For the first time since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Pentagon is feeling pressure from the White House to rein in rapidly rising spending and, with its budget reaching record levels, it is now looking to cut billions of dollars in labor and equipment costs," reports the New York Times' Leslie Wayne in a story that just misses must-read status. LINK

"Pentagon officials are in the midst of working out the final details of $32 billion in cuts that are to begin with the 2007 budget. They are also meeting with military contractors and members of Congress to prepare them for a slowdown in the double-digit growth of Pentagon spending."

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), the chairman of the Appropriations panel, wants to more than double President Bush's $17.1 billion request for the Hurricane Katrina recovery, including greatly expanding aid to families who lost their homes, the Wall Street Journal's David Rogers reports.

The Fitzgerald investigation:

Friday will be Valerie Plame's last day at the CIA, the Los Angeles Times reports. LINK

The Wall Street Journal ed board updates its readers on the status of the legal motion filed last month by Dow Jones requesting that a federal appeals court unseal eight pages of redacted information that Fitzgerald used to "justify throwing Judith Miller of the New York Times into the slammer last summer."

Politics of national security;

In an interview with USA Today, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) said congressional negotiators are close to agreement on anti-torture provisions of a defense spending bill. LINK

The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler reports that Rice's aides said that the Secretary of State's comments regarding respecting the sovereignty of European countries when conducting intelligence operations was "diplomatic code meaning that the United States does not act without first getting permission." LINK

The New York Times' Brinkley on Secretary of State Rice's tough stance on rendition before heading to Europe. LINK

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has ordered military commanders to come up with clear rules for how US troops should respond if they witness mistreatment of detainees by other forces outside the United States. The move follows the confusion that took place last week between the Defense Secretary and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, right in public. LINK

In a Washington Post op-ed, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) makes the case for striking a balance between "protecting our nation's interests and ensuring that we adhere o the values for which we are fighting." LINK

The Hill obtained an unsigned letter from decorated veteran and former POW Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Tex.) coming out against McCain's torture bill. LINK

ABC's Jake Tapper looks at the politics of which TV networks are blocking first responders from communicating on one unified spectrum. LINK


In his curtain-raiser of today's oral argument in Rumsfeld v. FAIR, the Wall Street Journal's John Hechinger has Bruce Hunter, the associate executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, which represents superintendents, predicting that the military recruitment language in the No Child Left Behind Act will face a legal challenge as well. LINK

Keying off of today's oral argument in the case, the Washington Post's ed board writes that "not every bad law offends the Constitution, and this litigation is something of a misfire." LINK

2008: Democrats:

The New Republic's Ryan Lizza lists the reasons Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) should run for president in 2008. LINK

Syndicated columnist Ruben Navarette chides Sen. Clinton and her husband for "playing both sides of the street" in the Iraq debate. LINK

Activist group Codepink plans to tail Sen. Clinton around the state and country to protest her stance on Iraq which rejects a timetable for withdrawal, reports the New York Daily News. LINK

On the op-ed page of the New York Times, Wesley Clark writes of Iran's strengthened hand due to America's involvement in Iraq. LINK

Sen. Russ Feingold's PAC has invited supporters of the Progressive Patriots Fund to vote on-line for which of 10 Democratic congressional candidates ought to receive a $5,000 contribution. The voting will run through midnight on December 14. LINK

The candidates under consideration are: Francine Busby (CA-50), Chris Carney (PA-10), John Courage (TX-21), Brad Ellsworth (IN-08), Nick Lampson (TX-22), Patricia Madrid (NM-01), Lois Murphy (PA-06), Coleen Rowley (MN-02), Heath Shuler (NC-11), Tim Walz (MN-01), and Peter Welch (VT-AL).

Sen. Kerry heads up North to Maine to campaign and fundraise for Gov. John Baldacci. LINK


Sen. Clinton's possible Democratic primary opponent -- backed by Cindy Sheehan -- gets some New York Times coverage. LINK

The New York Daily News reports, as Jeanine Pirro prepares to withdraw her challenge to Sen. Clinton, she could be cut out of the state attorney general's race as potential attorney general candidate Chauncey Parker impresses county leaders for a spot on the ticket. LINK

Page Six floats a Golisano run for Senate instead of governor. LINK

Former Gov. Lowell Weicker (D-CT) may consider an independent challenge against Sen. Joe Lieberman next year in opposition to Lieberman's position on the war in Iraq, reports the New York Times. LINK

James O'Toole of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports on State Treasurer Bob Casey's requests to Sen. Santorum to repudiate an ad praising Santorum's position on Social Security launched by an independent group that will not identify donors. LINK

David Brown of the Tribune Review anticipates a Senate race in Pennsylvania that will take faith to voting booths across the state on Election Day. LINK

The Des Moines Register reports that the gentlemanly Matt Paul, one of Gov. Vilsack's top aides, has left the administration to become campaign manager for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Blouin. LINK


Michael Saul of the New York Daily News reports that high-roller Mayor Bloomberg spent a record $77.9 million getting re-elected -- roughly $103 per vote. LINK

Corzine replacing Corzine:

Roll Call reports that New Jersey Democratic insiders believe Gov.-elect Corzine will choose Rep. Bob Menendez to succeed him in the Senate.