The Note: The Silver State of the (Political) Union



Some days, the Googling monkeys can sleep in because The Note lede writes itself.

Today is such a day.

Back to basics:

1. President Bush came to Washington to accomplish a short list of big goals.

2. Some of those goals have been accomplished, but some have not, and his original plan has been gravely complicated by 9/11 and Iraq.

3. President Bush cares a lot about accomplishing the unaccomplished, and he plans to spend all four years of his second term working on his to-do list.

4. It is a political certainty that two of those big goals -- Social Security reform and tax reform -- will not to be accomplished in 2006.

5. Any major Bush goals not accomplished in 2006 will have to get done in 2007 or 2008.

6. Getting these and other (mostly conservative) things done in the last two years of his term will require keeping Republican control of the House and Senate, which itself will require:

(a) keeping GOP 2008 presidential jockeying to a minimum;

(b) continued building of the Republican Party grassroots machine;

(c) making sure the 2006 elections are about "who can keep you safer?," "who reflects your values?," and "who will keep government limited?";

(d) turning the Medicare prescription drug benefit from a political minus into a political plus;

(e) minimizing the political peril of ethics, deficit spending, and immigration; and,

(f) forcing (or: "watching") the Democrats continue to behave like the dumb, scared, Mommy Party. (Check out Tom Vilsack's request for ten words to solve all this. LINK)

So: will the White House get what it wants? Hints can be found in the words and actions of two Nevadans:

For the Republicans, on this one-year anniversary of President Bush's second inaugural, Silver Stater Karl Rove (and Marylander Ken Mehlman) will address the Republican National Committee winter meeting. First up is Chairman Mehlman who will gavel in the session at 9:45 am ET at the Capital Hilton in Washington, DC and take the podium about an hour after that for his remarks.

On this day after the latest Osama bin Laden tape was released, Rove will deliver his keynote remarks at the 11:30 am ET luncheon.

You may recall Rove got some attention at the RNC winter meeting in Austin, TX in 2002 when he kicked off the Republican midterm agenda there by speaking about the political advantage Republicans have when national security and the war on terror are in the foreground of the political debate. "We can go to the country on this issue because they trust the Republican Party to do a better job of protecting and strengthening America's military might and thereby protecting America," Rove said at the time, seeming to make a perfectly legitimate point, but for some reason setting parts of the political world on fire.

Still, even the tightly controlled Party under the meticulous Mehlman doesn't control everything, appearances to the contrary.

In a must-read, the AP's Ron Fournier writes that GOP leaders who have gathered in Washington for the RNC meeting worry that an "enthusiasm deficit" could cost the party control of Congress in November. LINK

"'We've seen the enemy, and he is us,' said Tom Rath, a Republican National Committee member from New Hampshire describing the sentiments of some GOP voters. 'We have to get back to the basics. Let's talk about small government and reduced spending, and don't let the Democrats take those issues.'"

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