The Note: There There



At the risk of making everyone mad; in search of our own brand of the truth; and in recognition that the story isn't over (Do we even need to say WHAT story?) -- or as important as health care or tax cuts -- but it also might be wanting for new developments and video today:

-- The desires of the White House press corps notwithstanding, and the general sense of the Gang of 500 notwithstanding, no one we know has actually enunciated why it is in the public interest to know about such accidents same-day as opposed to next-day. The Washington Post's ed board says that the principle of immediate disclosure is "so elementary," and "By every standard and by all accounts, the failure to promptly disclose the accident was wrong," but that "explanation" isn't good enough for Scott McClellan, any member of the Cheney family, John Q. and Mary Q. Public, or The Note.

-- Every shooting expert (some partisan to be sure, but many not) on the record puts the blame primarily or exclusively on the Vice President; dissenting from this view are Scott McClellan, Katharine Armstrong, and a few others with loyalty to the Vice President. What accounts for that?

-- It would appear that the facts of the incident (and their implications) and any law enforcement actions (and their implications) are largely determined and completed, respectively; Note we wrote "appears."

-- As fans of the lame-duck "The West Wing" know, there is always tension between the staffs of the president and the vice president; in the Bush-Cheney White House, such incidents of tension are few and far between; the way the shooting aftermath was handled might be an exception to that pattern.

-- Most of the time, the fact that the Vice President is not running to succeed the President is a political and process bonus for the Bush White House; it might not have been in this case.

-- Uhm: who was in charge of the VPOTUS pre-hunting paperwork?

-- The national media is fascinated by "contentious" White House briefings; the public, not so much. Nonetheless, the national media treats the contentiousness as news in and of itself.

-- How long will all we all keep all those reporters on the ground?

-- When will the release of more investigative paperwork be?

-- Late night comedy fodder blah blah blah.

-- Most reporters don't know about hunting blah blah blah.

-- This is a metaphor for the Bush-Cheney Administration blah blah blah.

-- Until the Vice President speaks on video about this, the story lives on.

And apparently, that speaking won't be in this news cycle, since, as of this writing, Vice President Cheney has no public schedule today. (He is, however, speaking to the Wyoming state legislature on Friday, a Cheney official tells ABC News' Karen Travers.)

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan gaggles off camera at 9:45 am ET and briefs on camera at noon ET. (Keep your "peppering" jokes to yourself.)

President Bush partakes in a hook 'em horns photo opportunity with the 2005 NCAA Football champions, the University of Texas Longhorns at 1:05 pm ET. President Bush also meets with his Council on Service and Civic Participation at 2:10 pm ET.

Michael Feinstein, know for his Upper East Side performances for folks the President might call yankee-white-wine-swillers at Gotham City's Regency Hotel, will be the entertainment at tonight's Valentine's Day Social Dinner at the White House hosted by the First Couple. (Note to the President: dancing is more romantic than "SportsCenter.")

Edmund Andrews of the New York Times writes up the royalty relief -- more than $7 billion of it over the next five years -- oil and gas companies will receive courtesy of the American government. LINK

Secretaries Rice, Snow, and Chertoff were all originally scheduled to testify before the appropriate Senate committees on the President's FY 2007 budget plan. All three Secretaries have postponed their appearances on Capitol Hill.

In the Senate gallery at 2:45 pm ET, Sens. Clinton (D-NY) and Landrieu (D-LA) hold a press conference on Katrina and homeland security.

Filmmaker George Lucas joins Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other Democrats for a town hall meeting on their "innovation agenda" in Washington, DC. Leader Pelosi has asked President Bush to convene a meeting of bipartisan congressional leaders to work together on better preparing the country to compete economically worldwide.

This morning, to help Rep. Tom Reynolds and the NRCC celebrate Valentine's Day, the DCCC will be delivering "a gallon of bleach to help them clean out the House, a bucket of change to give them an idea of what's coming, and an orange vest just in case Dick Cheney gets too close," DCCC communications guru Bill Burton tells The Note.

The Senate Democratic and Republican Conferences hold their respective weekly policy luncheons at 12:30 pm ET.

The AARP holds a public policy meeting in Washington, DC. Sen. Hillary Clinton is scheduled to address the group at noon ET. Former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson was scheduled to have begun speaking at 8:30 am ET.

Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) addresses the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America at 9:30 am ET in Washington, DC.

Fresh from his trip to the Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) plans to sign a $1 million appropriations bill to support the 2006 NCAA Women's Final Four basketball championship, to be held at the TD Banknorth Garden (or just "The Garden" as it is affectionately known in the Boston area) from April 2-4, 2006.

Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) holds a 12:15 pm ET press conference in Des Moines, IA.

At 9:00 am ET, the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research holds a symposium on "Panic Attack: The New Precautionary Culture, the Politics of Fear, and the Risks to Innovation."

Republican John Faso formally announces his gubernatorial candidacy in New York in a 90-second live television address at 7:58 pm ET.


Michaels and Gillman of the Dallas Morning News interview the Third Hunter, Pamela Willeford, the U.S. ambassador to Switzerland, about Cheney's hunting mishap and also Note that Cheney was hunting, "without the required $7 stamp on his license for quail." LINK

Kenedy County Chief Sheriff's Deputy Gilberto San Miguel Jr. "would not say whether the department tried to interview Cheney on Saturday night," reports the Caller- Times. LINK

David Jackson's USA Today reports on the VP being cleared of any misconduct and his small violation of the legal $7 stamp requirement. LINK

The New York Post's not-so-namby-pamby ed board asks: "If there was nothing to hide, why the secrecy?" LINK

In the same paper, Deborah Orin's lead on Cheney: "The White House took heavy flak yesterday for waiting a vewwy, vewwy long time before revealing that wascally Vice President Dick Cheney had shot a fellow hunter." LINK

Powell and Garza of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times report that Willeford commented on Harry Whittington's condition, saying, "He's pretty bruised. But he was talking, laughing and telling jokes and talking about how good he is being taken care of." LINK

Cheney will receive a routine warning from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department about the missing stamp, report Pinkerton and Mason of the Houston Chronicle. LINK

Whittington left intensive care Monday with largely superficial wounds in Corpus Christi, according to Herman and Coppola of the Austin American-Statesman. LINK

The New York Times details Katharine Armstrong's and her business partner Karen Johnson's lobbying clients. LINK

The Los Angeles Times quotes Bob Novak's FOX News analysis that the incident "reflects an attitude in this White House of holding back information." LINK

And be sure to Note the menu details for lunch prior to the shooting.

The New York Daily News wood: "BIRD BRAIN: Vice President didn't have license to hunt quail on ill-fated trip."

New York Post wood has Cheney dressed up Elmer Fudd-style under a "WASCALS" header.

Nedra Pickler of the AP. LINK

Paul Begala, a proud gun-toting Democrat, writes that to quote Mary Matalin to vouch for Cheney's safety, as the Washington Post did on Monday, is "absurd." LINK

"I love Mary," he writes on TPM Café, "she's married to my best friend. But she was 1500 miles away, drinking a fine Rhone, no doubt. And I daresay she's never been hunting in her life. And yet the Post quotes her reassuring us that Cheney 'was not careless or incautious.'. Baloney. That's like quoting me on Mrs. Bush's inaugural ball gown. I didn't attend the event, and I don't know squat about the subject."

Per the AP, it seems that nobody really wants to be around hunter Cheney anymore, as even Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) places his "No Farmers, No Food" orange sticker on the chest, announcing that he is "a little concerned that Dick Cheney is going to walk in." LINK

Roll Call has Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) saying of his own recent hostile encounter with the Vice President, "In retrospect it looks like I got off easy." LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Matea Gold wraps the comedy shows reaction to the shooting. LINK

More on news release angle, from the Washington Times: LINK

From the New York Times editorial: "The vice president appears to have behaved like a teenager who thinks that if he keeps quiet about the wreck, no one will notice that the family car is missing its right door. The administration's communications department has proved that its skills at actually communicating are so rusty it can't get a minor police-blotter story straight. And the White House, in trying to cover up the cover-up, has once again demonstrated that it would rather look inept than open." LINK

The Washington Post ed board: "Neither Mr. Cheney nor the White House gets to pick and choose when to disclose a shooting. Saturday's incident required immediate public disclosure -- a fact so elementary that the failure to act properly is truly disturbing in its implications." LINK

Knight Ridder header: "White House blames victim." LINK

Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times beautifully captures the strange Monday in the White House briefing room. LINK

The Daily News' Cheney write-thru leads with: "Vice President Cheney had no license to kill - quail, that is." LINK

Juan Gonzalez has an op-ed on why the White House stayed mum about Cheney's accident. LINK

The New York Daily News has "An Ode to Cheney: No. 2 with a bullet!," meant to be sung to the tune of Irving Berlin's "You Can't Get a Man With a Gun." LINK

Cheney's hunting accident now comedy fodder for late night television hosts and front page newspaper headlines, reports Bloomberg News' Holly Rosenkrantz. LINK

Politics of Katrina:

In a preview of the damning 600-page congressional report set to be released on Wednesday, Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) told ABC News' "Good Morning America" earlier today that government "failed at all levels."

"Our plans were faulty to start with," he added.

"Mr. Chertoff is looking increasingly imperiled as criticism of his performance swirls in Democratic and Republican quarters. The White House's assessment, still in draft form, is said to be scathing in critiquing DHS's management of FEMA and its poor leadership during Katrina," write the Wall Street Journal's King and McKinnon.


Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett exclusively gives the New York Times' Ian Urbina his official withdrawal from the Ohio Senate race and says he will not get into the House race in the second congressional district -- at least not while there are other Democrats still in that race. LINK

(Note to Karl Frisch: Feel free to publish the transcripts of your conversations with Howard Wilkinson today about how the Times scooped the Enquirer.)

After Hackett made his intentions known, the Swing State Project's Bob Brigham sent a profanity-laced email to several members of the Old Media angrily denouncing DSCC Chair Chuck Schumer and DCCC honcho Rahm Emanuel.

Brigham is one of the bloggers who won CNN's Political Play of the Week last year for his work during the OH-02 special election.

Speculation that Hackett was going to delight the DCCC by challenging Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) for her House seat was fueled yesterday when Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory sent a statement praising Hackett for a decision that he had not made, the AP reports. LINK

New York gubernatorial hopeful Patrick Manning tells the New York Post that he had an affair and is leaving his wife. Manning charges that John Faso attempted to blackmail him out of the race with evidence of the affair. LINK

The Columbus Dispatch's Mark Niquette reports that Tom Noe's 53-count theft and corruption indictment could play a major role in Ohio's statewide elections this year and even in the 2008 presidential race. LINK

Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) -- the incumbent many environmental and animal rights activists most want to defeat -- gets front page Los Angeles Times profile treatment. LINK

William Weld's evolution on same-sex marriage leads Jennifer Medina's New York Times account of the Republican gubernatorial hopefuls in the Empire State courting the Conservative Party's support. LINK

The New York Post picks up on John Spencer's strong words for Sen. Clinton, as well as her husband. LINK

The New York Daily News' David Saltonstall reports that the 2002 Democratic primary race for governor could haunt Andrew Cuomo's bid for attorney general. LINK

The New York Daily News picks up on Pirro's admission to a pro-gun crowd that she herself owns three guns. LINK

Democrat Diane Farrell's rematch bid to unseat Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) is being shaped by her opposition to the Iraq war, reports the Wall Street Journal's Dreazan.

"Ms. Farrell is calculating that U.S. casualties and questions about the honesty of President Bush's case for war have given the party an opening to reduce Republicans' electoral advantage on national-security issues."

Politics of surveillance:

Asked whether he supports a proposal by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) to let the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court review the constitutionality of President Bush's domestic surveillance program, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told The Note on Monday that he doesn't know whether the FISA court is the court that ought to make that determination.

He predicted, however, that the program's constitutionality "will be tested," referring to lawsuits that have already been filed in federal court. (Despite his confident assertion, it's worth Noting that the plaintiffs in the NSA lawsuits face several formidable obstacles, including legal standing and the classified nature of the program).

Sen. Reid said Democrats support wiretapping "the bad guys" while adding that Democrats want to do it "constitutionally and legally."

Sen. Reid's skepticism towards Sen. Specter's proposals differed from the enthusiastic embrace Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) offered Sunday when he appeared on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

Asked by Stephanopoulos if he would sign onto Sen. Specter's legislation, Sen. Biden said: "Absolutely . . ."

Sen. Reid made his FISA comments after addressing the 2006 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington, DC where he received a round of applause when he was introduced as "a proud, pro-life Democrat."

Bush Administration:

Instead of testifying before a Senate committee today, Secretary Chertoff offers his take on the President's FY 2007 budget request for his department on the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal.

The Boston Globe's Rick Klein reports on the release of public relations costs, which were spent by the Bush Administration for recent media advertising. Democrats who have looked at the numbers want to probe the Administrations spending on specific areas like the war on terrorism and prescription drug plans. LINK

Politics of Medicare:

The New York Times' Pear reports on the hurdles many seniors and their doctors have to jump to get some forms of medication under the new Medicare prescription drug benefit rules. LINK

The economy:

Bush's annual economic report to Congress accredits the economy's 3.1 % growth last year and projected 3.4% this year to "innovation and an efficient U.S. workforce," according to USA Today. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Greg Ip on the President's Council of Economic Advisers annual report: "Striking a more optimistic tone than many economists, the Economic Report of the President said the decline in the personal-saving rate last year to post-Depression lows 'may not be cause for alarm.' It blamed much of the trade deficit on other countries that save too much, rather than the U.S. saving too little."

The Abramoff affair:

Former associates of Abramoff claim that the former lobbyist often spoke of Karl Rove as his connection to the White House, with one Noting a phone call made between Abramoff and Rove's office that confirmed a meeting between Bush and Malaysian prime minister, reports the Associated Press. LINK

Lobbying reform:

Brody Mullins of the Wall Street Journal adds up all the money spent by corporations and interest groups on lobbying the federal government -- $1.16 billion in the first half of 2005.


Bloomberg News reveals in a must-read that money intended to help other candidates is now laying the groundwork for presidential bids, with less than 10% of the millions of dollars in PAC money raised by Senators John McCain, Evan Bayh, Hillary Clinton, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, allotted to federal candidates. LINK

2008: Democrats:

Under the headline, "Joe Biden Can't Shut Up. . .," the handsome and talented Robert Draper offers up a must-read profile in the March 2006 issue of GQ. Family tragedy, Kinnock, and his desire to be his own "Karl Rove" are all included.

"Joe Biden is no less conventional a white man than George W. Bush: Roman Catholic, doesn't smoke or drink, roots for the Eagles, mingles easily with working stiffs, speaks no French, can't name a single song written after 1976. Unlike Bush, though, he thinks deeply and broadly and mostly aloud, and he gets there when he gets there. Long free of the plagiarist label and every bit his own man, he continues to talk like he sketches: drafting and redrafting, starting and stopping and starting again, as lost in nuance as the man he hopes to replace is unbound by it," writes Draper.

Walter Shapiro, Salon's Washington bureau chief, calls Sen. Evan Bayh's (D-IN) efforts to get to the right of President Bush on Iran "politically intriguing" but "potentially dangerous" while praising Sen. Biden for "bravely" abandoning the "easy political road" by "praising (yes, praising) the Administration for recently switching to 'the correct policy with regard to Iran.'" LINK

Be sure to Note that Shapiro has Ivo Daalder, a Clinton national security staffer now at Brookings, saying, "I'm a pretty hawkish person, but I don't think there is a military option with Iran."

Thomas Beaumont of the Des Moines Register has Sen. Bayh cautiously saying that "a leak in classified information is against the law, and if he [Cheney] was urging that, then obviously that would be a very serious thing." LINK

Per Beaumont, although Sen. Bayh said that "we need to get to the bottom of it," he did not join Howard Dean in calling for a resignation, saying instead that "I think we've got to find out what the facts are."

Per the AP, Sen. Bayh met today in private with Iowa Democratic lawmakers, and promised his support throughout the fall campaign, planning to return to Iowa several times this year for fundraisers and campaigning events. LINK

Peter Cannellos of the Boston Globe writes on the Democratic dilemma for 2008. LINK

"The Democrats are swimming in dangerous political cross-currents. The party's desire for an appealing, domestic-focused nominee who can connect with voters will keep washing up against its need for a nominee who can square off against the Republicans on national security. The person who can best meet both requirements will have a strong claim to the nomination. But (Fmr. Gov. Va.) Warner, who left office last month and is now aggressively courting the party's leading fund-raisers and inside players, seems to be trying to satisfy only the first requirement."

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) kept his 2008 options open and expressed concern with Iran's nuclear capabilities at a Quincy, Massachusetts speech yesterday, per the Globe. LINK

Tom Benner of the Patriot Ledger has a write-up of Sen. Kerry's speech to the South Shore Chamber of Commerce, where he called for a "three-pronged competitiveness challenge''. LINK

The New York Post's Deborah Orin has Rep. Peter King's, as well as Sen. Schumer's, response to Al Gore's claiming that President Bush committed "terrible abuses" against Arabs after September 11th. LINK

Gov. Vilsack's (D-IA) former chief of staff is going through some rough times, the AP reported yesterday. LINK

2008: Republicans:

The New York Post on Giuliani's voyage to Italy at the bequest of the President and what it means for his political future. LINK

The Hill lays out the obstacles ahead for McCain's new ear-mark reform proposal. LINK

Roll Call Notes that when the McCain led Indian Affairs Committee opens its heaings on Bush's 2007 budget "it will mark the first time since July that his committee has focused on issues of broad significance other than gambling or the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal."

The Boston Globe reports that Gov. Romney's (R-MA) state legislature is facing disagreement and sometimes gridlock on passing health care legislation. LINK

The Boston Herald reports that Gov. Romney's massive out of state travel schedule and speeches on the road garner him some 2008 spotlight, and it also leaves gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Kerry Healy (R) in a test run position to show voters her leadership skills. LINK


In Iowa, a bill that proposes 25% ethanol use in Iowa by 2015 gathers popular support as it moves through the legislature, writes Tim Higgins of the Des Moines register. LINK

Clintons of Chappaqua:

President Bill Clinton received aid in the war on fat yesterday when he received an $8 million grant for "a four-year effort to combat childhood obesity," reports Terrance Dean of the New York Sun. LINK

"This is a national emergency," Mr. Clinton said. "We are looking to halt the growth of childhood obesity by 2010."

House of Labor:

Viewing him as another fox guarding the hen house, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney sent a letter to the Senate on Monday opposing the nomination of Richard Stickler to be Assistant Secretary of the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

More from West Virginia's Charleston Gazette: LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

"A leading Republican conservative group has ended its effort to strip Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of the state Republican Party's endorsement, sparing the governor a potentially embarrassing political slap," per the San Francisco Chronicle. LINK

The Hill reports that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is backing Schwarzenegger, and perhaps laying the groundwork for a future statewide race of his own. LINK

The Boehner Era:

Jonathan Kaplan of The Hill reports on how House Republicans are adjusting to their new boss. LINK