The Note: The Note

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2

NEWS SUMMARY

Four establishment conservative voices, after a day to think things over, are declaring their lack of enthusiasm (to say the least) for the President's State of the Union address: the Wall Street Journal's editorial page; Bob Novak; George Will; and Peggy Noonan.

Does this matter?

Only time will tell.

First, the Journal's twin editorial take on the speech:

One editorial takes the White House to task for focusing too much on polls in its calls for energy policy changes. "If there is an unhealthy addiction right now, it may be the White House fixation on polls showing Americans are anxious about gas prices. This, and only this, could explain the decision to co-opt Democratic energy ideas in order to deflect their political attacks in the run-up to mid-term elections."

A second editorial draws similarities between Bush and Clinton. "On the home front, President Bush was definitely playing 'miniball,' as he likes to describe small political ideas. At times his agenda had the feel of Clintonian 'triangulation,' an attempt to play it safe and inoculate Republicans against some of the likely Democratic themes this election year."

Then there's Novak's column, in which he suggests that most conservatives felt the President's Tuesday night speech was his "worst," and "what bothered conservatives most about Tuesday night's performance was not what the president failed to do but what he actually did." LINK

Will and Noonan feel much the same: LINK and LINK

While conservatives ponder those five pieces, their political event of the day will occur when Tom DeLay's successor will be chosen by secret ballot at the House Republican Conference gathering at noon ET.

It takes 117 votes to win. If nobody achieves that threshold on the first ballot, the top two vote-getters move on to a second ballot. Rep. Roy Blunt currently has 100 public supporters, and claims to have more than 117 in public and private commitments combined.

Election results will be announced on www.GOP.gov as soon as they are available. There will be a press conference after the meeting.

President Bush attended the National Prayer Breakfast this morning and praised Bono as "an amazing guy" who gets things done.

President Bush spends the rest of today and tomorrow continuing his SOTU road show. (As she did yesterday, Mrs. Bush will be traveling with her husband again today.) The President tours the 3M Company in Maplewood, MN before making 12:40 pm ET remarks on "American competitiveness." President Bush will then head to Albuquerque, NM where he will remain overnight in advance of his event there tomorrow morning.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hears from DNI Negroponte, Michael Hayden, CIA Director Goss, FBI Director Mueller, and others at 10:00 am ET.

Sens. Baucus, Cantwell, Kennedy, and Reed hold a 2:15 pm ET pen and pad for reporters to discuss the President's State of the Union address.

Secretary Chao delivers remarks on the SOTU and the economy to the City Club of Cleveland at 12:30 pm ET.

Secretary Snow delivers remarks on the "state of the economy" to the National Association of Wholesalers at 1:30 pm ET in Washington, DC.

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) will key off Karl Rove's recent RNC remarks and deliver a speech entitled, "A New Approach to the National Security Debate," at the Center for International and Strategic Studies at noon ET. (See our preview below.)

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