The Note: Gang of 1



On the scale of 1-10, with "10" being David Gergen and "1" being President Bush, how much does Vice President Cheney care about dancing to the tune played by a pound-of-flesh-demanding Gang of 500?

(Insert your own joke here.)

The choices: (a) do nothing for another news cycle; (b) an exclusive interview with one groveling, well-chosen interviewer; (c) a Ferraro-style let-it-all-hang-out press conference ("Mr. Vice President, on another matter, what did you know about Scooter Libby's media strategy regarding Joe Wilson?"); (d) do nothing for another TWO news cycles; or (e):

"I have been reminded of something this week: That in national service, good intentions are not always enough, and that sometimes conventions have become conventions for a good reason. Certainly my responsibility is to all Americans, and not just to Mr. Whittington and the President."

"I should have reflected on that in those harried hours when we were focused on Harry, and should have realized that an early -- if quick -- account of the accident would have been welcome, when I was more concerned about getting you a complete accounting. I'm going to stick to fishing for awhile. But sooner or later, I'll be back for that quail that got away. With, God willing, Harry at my side." (FLASH DARREL HAMMOND SMILE)

"I am sorry about what happened, of course. In hunting, as in other great outdoor activities, sometimes accidents unfortunately occur. I urge all Americans who hunt to do what I always do, and did on Saturday -- take every required safety precaution. That is just good common sense."

"Perhaps, in some small way, some good can come of this awful episode. Perhaps all of us who love gun sports will be reminded that accidents can happen even among the most careful, most experienced among us. The most basic rules of gun and hunting safety -- including making sure that the others in your party know your whereabouts at all times -- can never for a second leave our minds."

"I'm going back to work to help our President protect America from the dangerous people who still want to do us harm. And I'm going to go home tonight and hug my adorable grandchildren" (HOLD UP PICTURE.)

"Thank you for reminding me why this is such a great country. I'm proud to serve the President, and proud to serve you."

"Good afternoon."

And then there is (f), what some would call an "alternative" media strategy:

"Good afternoon. I am Lea Anne McBride, Vice President Cheney's spokeswoman." "I hope you will understand that, for reasons of national security, the White House could not release this information earlier and there is much we still can not say now in order to protect operational integrity. On Saturday morning it was discovered via the kind of intercept technology that the Democrats want to do away with that Mr. Harry Whittington had been in contact over the last several months with several high-level al Qaeda operatives operating in Iraq."

"That information was quickly relayed to the Vice President's hunting party, but not in time to stop them from embarking on their shoot. Secret Service attempted to apprehend Mr. Whittington for questioning in the field, but he ran and they were unable to apprehend him. It was in fact Mr. Cheney who, acting quickly in the face of a serious and immediate threat, took aim at Mr. Whittington and shot to stun him. The Vice President's quick thinking, flinty resolve, and sure shooting averted a major catastrophe. As additional intercepts of the kind Democrats want to do away with have shown, Mr. Whittington planned to attack and bring down the tallest building between the Rio Grande and the panhandle."

"At this hour, Mr. Whittington is being transferred from his hospital bed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he can be better treated under optimal conditions. The gratitude of the American people go out today to the Vice President."

"We will have no further comment on this matter."

"Thank you."

Whatever route is chosen, Vice President Cheney has no public schedule as of this writing. There is also no White House gaggle or press briefing on the schedule as of this writing, but we're betting someone from the press office will visit with reporters in the back of the plane on the President's way to the Buckeye State to promote an agenda in which the White House press corps currently has ZERO interest.

Before heading to Ohio, President Bush kicked off his early morning with a 7:00 am ET bicameral/bipartisan congressional leadership breakfast at the White House.

The President participates in a meeting on health savings accounts at Wendy's International headquarters in Dublin, OH at 11:35 am ET. (The always hungry press corps have been promised Frosties.) Still photos only at the top of the meeting. At noon ET, President Bush will make (open press) remarks on health care. ABC News' Karen Travers reports that the President will highlight two goals of his Administration: one, taking care of the elderly and poor through Medicare, Medicaid and community health centers and two, making sure health care is affordable for families.

President Bush will be back at the White House in time for his 3:00 pm ET Oval Office signing of H.R. 4636 -- "The Federal Deposit Insurance Reform Conforming Amendments Act of 2005."

For those keeping score at home, today's trip will be President Bush's 39th to the Buckeye State since taking office in January 2001, per the Ohio State Republican Party. And it is also interesting to Note that despite four visits to the state in the first five months of his second term, President Bush has not been to Ohio since June 9, 2005 -- a couple of months before Gov. Bob Taft (R-OH) pleaded no contest to violating state ethics laws. Keep an eye on the President's travel schedule this election year to this most important battleground state and you'll be able to determine how much the White House and Ohio Republicans believe the President's political health can help resuscitate the ailing Ohio Republican Party.

The House Select Committee on Hurricane Katrina will release its much publicized report after its 2:00 pm ET business meeting.

First Lady Laura Bush is in Charlotte, NC today where she participates in a meeting on American Heart Month and then delivers remarks on the topic at Carolinas Medical Center at 2:35 pm ET. Mrs. Bush then heads down to Florida where she participates in two Jr. Rangers event. The first is this evening in Coral Gables, FL and the second is tomorrow morning in Miami, FL.

Secretary Rice's testimony before the Foreign Relations Committee has been rescheduled for 9:45 am ET. Secretary Chertoff provides testimony to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee at 11:15 am ET. He will repeat his performance on the House side later in the day.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke makes his debut Capitol Hill appearance in his new capacity at 10:00 am ET before the House Financial Services Committee.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales outlines his priorities for the year at the Department of Justice at 11:00 am ET.

The grand jury looking into the leak of a former CIA operative's name may meet this morning at 9:30 am ET.

The Senate convened at 9:30 am ET for a period of morning business until 10:00 am. The Senate will then begin consideration of the motion to proceed to the Patriot Act Reauthorization bill.

Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi and other members of the Democratic House leadership will discuss Hurricane Katrina and the pending report from the Select Committee on Katrina immediately following the weekly Democratic Caucus meeting at 10:00 am ET.

Sens. Durbin (D-IL) and Stabenow (D-MI) and Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) hold a press conference to discuss the Medicare prescription drug benefit at 1:00 pm ET. According to a press advisory, they "will announce a 'Prescription for Change,' the Democratic plan to discuss problems with and solutions to the Bush Administration's Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit with the American people."

This will be followed by House and Senate Democrats talking about the drug benefit throughout the President's Day recess next week at events across the country.

Sen. Stabenow will be back at it at 2:45 pm ET when she will be joined by Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) in the Senate gallery to discuss the topic of generic drugs.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke at the Brookings Institution's "America's First Suburbs" symposium at 8:45 am ET. At 10:00 am ET, Sen. Clinton attends committee hearings and she concludes her public schedule for the day at 4:00 pm when she receives the "Inspiration of the Year Award" from the Order of the Purple Heart.

Gov. Romney is in Boston, MA today where he will award the first veteran's bonus under the "Welcome Home" legislation he signed into law last year. Gov. Romney also meets with Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States at 2:00 pm ET at the State House.

Former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) participates in the UNITE HERE "Hotel Workers Rising" tour. Edwards is in San Francisco, CA today, Los Angeles, CA tomorrow, Chicago, IL on Friday, and he wraps up in Boston, MA on Saturday.

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman is in Washington state today. He is scheduled to meet with the Washington State House and Senate Republican Caucus leadership and then the full House and Senate caucuses. He also participates in a McGavick for Senate fundraiser, a Washington State Republican Party roundtable, and ends the day with the King County Lincoln Day Dinner.

Potential Democratic candidate for governor in New York, Tom Suozzi, participates in a panel discussion on "First Suburbs" at Brookings at 10:00 am ET.

VPOTUS: Bush staff versus Cheney staff:

David Sanger's political memo in the New York Times explores the autonomy with which Vice President Cheney operates within President Bush's White House. LINK

"Several White House officials said no one among the White House staff, including the chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., felt empowered to dictate how news of the accident would be handled," writes Sanger.

More Sanger: "The tension between President Bush's staff and Mr. Cheney's has been palpable, with White House officials whispering to reporters about how they tried to handle the news of the shooting differently. Mr. McClellan, while being careful not to cross Mr. Cheney or his aides directly, has made a point of reminding reporters of how he dealt with Mr. Bush's bicycle accident last summer, when the president collided with a Scottish policeman at the G-8 summit."

And Mary Matalin uses the "not an irrational thing" construct in describing the Vice President's behavior.

The Washington Post's VandeHei and Baker report "top White House aides are pressuring Cheney to discuss the incident as early as today." But they also have one person "close to both men" Noting that "Bush is the only person in the White House who could persuade Cheney to change strategy." LINK

ABC News' Claire Shipman reports: "Sources close to the Vice President say that there was actually a statement prepared either by Cheney, or with his help, to be delivered Sunday morning after the accident. It was something the White House suggested--and might have been prepared with some White House help. But it was determined by his advisors and by him that morning that it was too 'convoluted,' and might not be the best way to proceed. They decided it might be best to have somebody who actually witnessed the accident explain what happened. For some reason, they thought that would seem more 'credible,' hence, the involvement of Katherine Armstrong. They now see that this was likely bad judgment."

"As has been reported--there is a fair amount of frustration and back and forth sniping between the staffs of the President and the Vice President. And there is considerable pressure from the White House now, and there has been on a daily basis, for the Vice President to make a public statement of some sort, and express contrition for the accident. He has resisted, say sources, not because he thinks it is silly--but because he's insistent on being sure his friend is in stable condition first, and because he's 'not sure what it will accomplish right now.' However, they say he will talk soon--the LATEST will be in his Wyoming speech on Friday."

VPOTUS: politics:

The Washington Post duo have former Republican Congressman Vin Weber saying Cheney "made it a much bigger issue than it needed to be," and former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson saying that Cheney "probably sees no need to publicly explain himself" because he decided when he was defense secretary that "journalists ask 'stupid questions' and distort things."

USA Today's Susan Page offers readers a brief history of the Veep's troubled relationship with the press. She has Sen. Simpson characterizing Cheney's relationship with the press thusly: "'You ask the stupid questions, and I won't answer them.'" LINK

Team player Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) expressed her dissatisfaction with the Administration's method of informing the public about the incident, according to the Dallas Morning News's Todd Gillman. LINK

Sen. Hutchison: "I don't know what their thinking was in not saying anything about it. I don't know if they thought it would be minor and therefore he would be out [of the hospital]," Hutchison said.

Bloomberg has Republican Sen. John Cornyn defending Cheney: "I'm not sure it's his obligation to go to the press and say 'Guess what? This happened.'" LINK

Sen. Clinton's decision to engage on the topic of the day garners the lede in the New York Daily News' political reaction piece. LINK

The New York Times' Michael Cooper found a peg to write about the Cheney story all the way from Albany, thanks to a State Senate committee voting in favor of what is now being called, "Cheney's Law." LINK

Note, too, Gov. Pataki's refusal to comment on the Vice President's predicament. Mark Silva Notes in the Chicago Tribune that "Vice President Dick Cheney, whose heavyweight resume and wise man status long have been assets to the Bush administration, suddenly has emerged as an unwelcome distraction for a White House." LINK

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) called the Bush Administration "the most secretive in modern history," reports Pinkerton and Elliott of the Houston Chronicle. LINK

More from Bryan Bender and Michael Kranish of the Boston Globe: LINK

Former Gore chief of staff Ron Klain tells the Washington Post, "When the Vice President is immune to politics and tone-deaf to politics, as Vice President Cheney has shown himself to be at various stages along the way, then his perspective on this kind of situation isn't as sharp." LINK

The Washington Times' give play to a wire service story that highlights Democratic criticism of the Administrations' secrecy surrounding the Vice President's accident. LINK

VPOTUS: news of day:

From the Austin American Statesman's Sarah Coppola:

"Asked if Whittington agreed with accounts by others that the accident was Whittington's fault, Puckett said her father 'hasn't said anything like that.'" LINK

But while Whittington's daughter says that her father doesn't think that he was at fault -- neither does he blame Cheney.

"'It was just a terrible, terrible accident. No one was at fault,' Puckett said. 'He feels bad for the vice president.'"

The New York Daily News' news of day piece includes more blaming the victim from an anonymous GOP source:

"Another GOP source told the Daily News that Cheney has been telling friends the average person probably can't comprehend the situation. 'He knows most people don't understand how things like this can happen,' the source said. 'But people who are hunters understand it. This guy was in a place he shouldn't be.'" LINK

New York Post wood: "Dick Ducks"

New York Daily News wood: "No Joke"

"It's a textbook case -- beginning to end -- of what not to do in a crisis," George Arzt tells the New York Post. LINK

And don't miss this kicker graph in the Orin/Sheehy New York Post opus: "Cheney press secretary Lea Anne McBride said she'd heard of no plans for Cheney, who wears glasses, to have his eyesight rechecked."

VPOTUS: Editorials and op-eds:

The Wall Street Journal's enabling editorial board seethes with sarcasm over the Washington press corps' reaction to the Cheney imbroglio:

"In the name of media solidarity, and in the interest of restraining the Imperial Presidency, we have put together the following coverup timeline with crucial questions that deserve to be answered: • 5:30 p.m., Saturday (all times Central Standard Time). Mr. Cheney sprays Harry Whittington with birdshot, and the Secret Service immediately informs local police. Who is Harry Whittington and whom does he lobby for? Does he know Scooter Libby?"

And/but: "It's absurd to claim this was and is merely a private matter. Dick Cheney is an employee of the American people. He was elected by us. He works for us. An incident involving the vice president, a serious injury and a gun is not a private matter under any understanding of the term," writes John Podhoretz in his New York Post column. LINK

David Ignatius sees the shooting aftermath as just another example of the Administration's alleged "arrogance of power," while also comparing the incident to Chappaquiddick. LINK

USA Today's ed board thinks the jokes about Cheney's accident -- and his "stay-in-the-shadows" response to it -- resonate because they contain "grains of truth." LINK

Maureen Dowd does the shooting incident as metaphor for how the Bush-Cheney Administration governs thing in her New York Times column. LINK

One letter to the editor of the New York Times indicates thanks for Dick Cheney's example of everything not to do while hunting. LINK

VPOTUS: morning shows

On ABC News' "Good Morning America," there was full coverage of all angles from Claire Shipman, Dr. Tim Johnson, and George Stephanopoulos.

While appearing on CNN's "American Morning," former Clinton spokesman Joe Lockhart said the decision to withhold information reflects a certain "arrogance" and a certain "contempt" for the public. Lockhart said the episode is going to make people wonder what else (not related to hunting) the White House isn't telling them about.

Katie Couric's headline on NBC's "Today" show: "Shooting himself in the foot?. . . Once again, the Bush Administration delays telling the press"

"Rough Sledding" for the White House, declared Katie Couric in an attempt to mesh the Cheney story with her Olympic locale.

"Is Vice President Cheney making a bad situation worse by keeping silent on it," asked Matt Lauer in his tease for Tim Russert's segment.

"The White House in turmoil," Lauer said as part of his toss to Kelly O'Donnell's package. "Until or unless The White House, the President, says to him 'Mr. Vice President, you have to speak publicly," he will not," said Russert who went on to predict that moment is likely to come soon.

CBS's "Early Show" Noted that McClellan avoided further discussion of the story during his press briefing yesterday, despite the fact that the Vice President knew of Wittington's heart troubles early yesterday morning.

VPOTUS: medical:

The Washington Post's Moreno and Brown find three prior cases where people survived after objects penetrated their hearts. LINK

The always-suspicious Dr. Lawrence K. Altman is on the case and has several questions for Mr. Whittington's doctors. Altman writes that some experts believe it less likely the pellet traveled through the bloodstream to Mr. Whittington's heart than was lodged there as a direct result of the shooting itself. LINK

Garcia and Powell of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times report that the piece of bird shot lodged near Whittington's heart shouldn't cause problems, but will likely remain there for the rest of his life. LINK

VPOTUS: local tick tock:

The Washington Post, after interviewing the Kenedy County sheriff and his chief deputy, tick tocks the shooting this way: at 5:30, the sheriff was told by one of his captains about an accidental shooting; 10 minutes later, a Secret Service agent called to report the shooting. When a police captain arrived at the ranch, the ambulance had already left. Meanwhile, the chief deputy called a ranch worker for more information and "decided to send an investigator in the morning because he knew the victim was being hospitalized and he felt assured that it was an accident." Moments later, the same Secret Service agent called and asked for an investigator to be sent at 8:00 a.m. the next day.

The chief deputy was the investigator who was sent the next morning -- he spoke with Cheney, who "just explained to me what happened." According to the chief deputy, "After what [Cheney] told us, we concluded it was an accident." LINK

The story also has some good detail about the accident itself.

"After some initial confusion about what steps the local police had taken to investigate the shooting on Saturday, Secret Service officials said on Tuesday that they had offered to make the vice president available for an interview as quickly as possible but that the local sheriff had agreed to wait until Sunday," write Elisabeth Bumiller and Anne Kornblut in the New York Times. LINK

However, that still doesn't answer the question as to why the Vice President didn't demand that his account be given to authorities immediately.

VPOTUS: Whittington:

The New York Times profiles the man who has long been dedicated to building a superior Texas Republican Party. LINK

VPOTUS: legal implications:

District Attorney Carlos Valdez tells the Los Angeles Times that if Whittington dies, he may "have to impanel a grand jury to investigate the matter. Valdez said that hunters could be charged with negligence in accidents 'if they take an unreasonable risk' that could lead to injury or death." LINK

ABC News' Gina Sunseri reports that Carlos Valdez, the Nueces County DA with jurisdiction in Kenedy County, says at the moment he is not investigating this case because Mr. Cheney and Mr. Whittington have both told investigators the shooting was an accident.

In the unlikely event that Mr. Whittington were to die, Mr. Valdez would ask the Kenedy County Sheriff to bring him all the documents and he would re-assess after conducting his own investigation.

The Vice President got off with a warning for missing his $7 game bird sticker, but at least one Texan wasn't as lucky, reports Kathryn Garcia of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. LINK

The Washington Times' reports that every local hunter they interviewed put Cheney at fault for the accident. Says one hunter: "I just want the guy to say, 'Hey, I screwed up, I made a mistake." LINK

The New York Post on the 'what if' legal implications: LINK

VPOTUS: Wyoming curtain raising:

Cheney is scheduled to fly into Cheyenne, WY, his "political birthplace," to address the state legislature on Friday, reports the AP. LINK

VPOTUS: color:

Dana Milbank on Scott McClellan's day of contrasts: LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper recollects another hunting mishap, this one involving President Bush. LINK

Lloyd Grove gets some advice for the Vice President from the likes of Sig Rogich and Paul Begala in his New York Daily News gossip column. LINK

The Abramoff Affair:

Under the headline, "Abramoff bragged of ties to Rove," the Los Angeles Times has details of the government of Malaysia's contacts with Jack Abramoff, with one "former associate" saying Abramoff worked through Karl Rove on Malaysia's behalf to set up a meeting between the Asian nation's prime minister and President Bush. LINK

Politics of domestic surveillance:

In a must-read that will surely be overshadowed by the Cheney-shoots-man story, the Washington Post's Charles Babington reports the White House's intense lobbying effort in opposition to a full-scale domestic surveillance investigation "has dramatically slowed the effort and may kill it." Closed door briefings of the Senate and House intelligence committees, along with private meetings with "wavering" Republican senators, made the difference. LINK

Two Senate Intelligence Commitee Democrats "said the panel -- made up of eight Republicans and seven Democrats -- was clearly leaning in favor of the motion last week but now is closely divided and possibly inclined against it."

Politics of Katrina:

Roll Call's Steve Kornacki reports that Democrats were "pleasantly surprised" by the candor of the Katrina report released by the House committee devoted to the investigation.

"I think it's an honest assessment of the egregious incompetence with which the crisis of Katrina was addressed by the administration," said Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD).

Although some still find it "incomplete," House Democrats are relatively satisfied with the Republican report that calls the Administration's response to Katrina "a national failure" and "a failure a leadership," writes the nimble Josephine Hearn of The Hill. LINK

Per Hearn, the Democratic response issued by Rep William Jefferson (D-LA) and Charlie Melancon (D-LA) praises many of the document's remarks, but concludes that, "The majority report rarely assesses how these problems occurred, why they were not corrected sooner and who in particular was responsible."


Bloomberg's Roger Simon and Laura Litvan profiles Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who says to expect Democrats to release their version of a "Contract with America" no later than this spring. Pelosi also defends her support of Jack Murtha's timetable for withdrawal but says "such specifics on Iraq should not be part of a Democratic re-election strategy and that her personal position 'was not a party position.'" LINK

Problems with the Medicare prescription drug benefit will be a major midterm campaign issue if Democrats have their way, Bloomberg reports. LINK

The Cincinnati Enquirer has some GOPers suggesting that Republicans in Ohio are well served by Paul Hackett bowing out of the race against Sen. DeWine. LINK

Yesterday, we told you about the DCCC's plans for bestowing gifts on their competitors at the NRCC for Valentine's Day.

"Well just like everything else they do, the Democrats are a day late and dollar short," NRCC communications chief Carl Forti tells The Note. Forti reports that the bleach and coins arrived today, no orange vest in sight. (Understandably, the orange vest became less funny due to the worsening of Mr. Whittington's medical condition.)

House of Labor:

Per the New York Times' Steven Greenhouse, the national labor movement suffered a "new split" on Tuesday when two major construction unions -- the laborers and the operating engineers -- announced they were quitting the Building and Construction Trades Department of the A.F.L.-C.I.O." LINK

2008: Democrats:

Keying off of her Tuesday speech to the AARP board, the Washington Times' Amy Fagan looks at Sen. Clinton's efforts to expand federal health care coverage. LINK

Bloomberg columnist Amity Shales says it's Hillary Clinton's policies, not her personality, that will cause her problems in 2008. LINK

The Hotline's Chuck Todd thinks the GOP is playing "the Hillary card" too soon and that Team Clinton, which he says "isn't quite ready to be a presidential campaign just yet," ought to respond to the attacks with more humor to avoid looking angry.

The New York Daily News' Michael McAuliff reports, Sen. Clinton "tried hard to stay out of a First Lady catfight" when responding to a reporter's question about First Lady Laura Bush's comments over the weekend declaring Sen. Clinton's recent remarks "out of bounds." LINK

The Nation suggests that if John Edwards wants to be president, he should follow the path of Truman and take his muckraking agenda on a road-trip across the country. LINK

2008: Republicans:

The Republican National Committee will unveil the 31 cities which have received request for proposals to host the 2008 Republican National Convention.

From the RNC press release: "The request includes an outline of the specifications for hosting the convention and a request for preliminary information that will assist the RNC Site Selection Committee in evaluating each interested city."

"Cities that received 2008 request for proposals are: Anaheim, Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Memphis, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, and Tampa."

"Cities were informed that the RNC Site Selection Committee will hold individual meetings in Washington, D.C. with representatives from all interested cities to discuss convention criteria, logistics and the site selection process. Cities that did not receive a request for proposal but would like to be considered can contact the RNC."

The Site Selection Committee plans to decide on a list of finalist cities by mid-summer of 2006. The Committee then plans to visit those cities during the late-summer and expects to make a final selection on the Host City no later than February 1, 2007.

The RNC expects to set dates for the convention in "the coming weeks," according to the release.

If Sen. McCain runs for President, he can count on Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to serve as one of his Senate advisers, the AP reports. LINK

The New York Times writes up the scuttling of the asbestos bill. LINK

Sen./Dr./Leader Frist switched his vote on the asbestos trust-fund bill yesterday to keep his options open, the Washington Times reports. LINK

Gov. Romney's Bay State healthcare plan may take longer to pass than expected as the House and Senate continue to look over legislation proposes, per the Boston Globe. LINK

The Boston Herald points to Gov. Romney's plentiful out of state visits as the cause for legislation delay. LINK

Boston Globe columnist Steven Bailey Notes that in order for Gov. Romney to run for president he needs to show off his state accomplishments and his one term of service many not show that progress. "Massachusetts' problems don't lend themselves to quick fixes by a one-term governor. It is an expensive place to live and do business. Key sectors such as mutual funds and technology have lost ground to competitors elsewhere. We're cranky, and it is darn cold here." LINK

The New York Observer's Ben Smith envisions Michael Bloomberg, presidential candidate: "Perot-style, only less weird." But is it a real possibility or merely the figment of deputy mayor Kevin Sheekey's daydreams? LINK

Bush Administration agenda:

Preceding his appearance before Congress this week, Treasury Secretary John Snow reminds the American public, via the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, that the economy really is doing well and his boss should get credit for it.


The Des Moines Register breaks the news that one-time party rival Patty Judge will join Iowa Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chet Culver as his running mate, withdrawing her own bid for the nomination. LINK

New Hampshire:

John DiStaso of the Union Leader reports that New Hampshire State Republican Chairman Warren Henderson will officially remain party chairman until March 25. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

House Democrats led by Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) are calling for a new vote on last week's budget bill, citing a "clerical error," that resulted in the House and Senate passing slightly different versions of the bill, according to Jennifer Yachnin of Roll Call.

The Clintons of Chappaqua, the Begala/Fridays of Northern Virginia, and the Carville/Matalins of Old Town:

Monday's book party at the Harlem office of Bill Clinton for Simon and Schuster crown jewels Paul Begala and James Carville was a memorable event for those who attended. First of all, the emphasis was on the must-readness of the book, "Take It Back," which is a work both serious and funny. (The Note recommends it to one and all, on the merits -- and not just because David Rosenthal bought us some luscious Blue Smoke hush puppies.)

Second, guests were invited to explore the former President's memorabilia-laden office, which is fabulous.

As for published accounts, you have two options: there are the standard New Old Media accounts in the New York Times gossip column by Campbell Robertson LINK or in the New York Daily News by Rush and Molloy LINK

Or you can read The Note's exclusive account from four of the most interesting, charming, and well-behaved young boys you could ever meet.

The four sons of Diane Friday and Paul Begala (and the nephews of a certain doting aunt) attended their pappy's book party. Setting aside their three working potato guns for just a moment, the boys filed for ABC News as uncompensated stringers:

CHARLIE (age 8): They had the best cheese sticks I ever tasted. It was kind of cool when Pres. Clinton mentioned us. He said, "You guys are the best dressed people here." He said our mom dressed us nice.

Uncle James was really funny.

BILLY (age 10): He said something about Mrs. Clinton going hunting with Dick Cheney. Pres. Clinton took a picture with us.

Miss Lisa Caputo was really nice. She said she has kids and she said we were being very well behaved, and she knew we were looking forward to getting back to the hotel.

Acky (Aunt Kathleen) and I looked around Pres. Clinton's office. We even saw a ribbon that said, "George Washington For President."

He has a lot of old letter openers on his desk.

PATRICK (age 5): It was fun. I liked the drinks. I liked the food. I ate about twenty pieces of salami. I talked to Pres. Clinton. I talked to some guy.

BILLY: Do you know what his name was?

PATRICK: I have no clue.

BILLY: If you don't have someone you're engaged in a conversation with, it's very boring. So you just walk around looking for someone else who's not engaged in a conversation. And if that doesn't work you just get a drink or something to eat -- you hang around the soda and see if anyone wants to talk.

JOHN (age 13): I talked to Mr. (Richard) Cohen about LBJ. Acky told him I was doing a report on LBJ and he asked me about it. I connected the similarities between the Iraq War and the Vietnam War. In both cases we acted on shaky knowledge, we weren't quite sure, but we attacked. We were very eager to attack the countries. The Gulf of Tonkin and the 9/11 attacks were great excuses, sort of, to attack the countries we wanted to. Mr. Cohen told me that he had just avoided the draft by signing up with the Army just before he got drafted, so he was lucky to not have to go to Vietnam.

I talked to Mr. (Bob) Rubin about the Cheney incident. I said there was no way the man was 30 yards away, due to the spread of the pellets. He had to be closer. Mr. Rubin didn't say much. Then we talked about fishing. He knows a lot about fishing. Then Mom pulled me away.

Pres. Clinton kept saying how tall I am. I was a few weeks old the first time I met him in his campaign. I felt honored that he mentioned us.

Politics of trade:

Vikas Bajaj of the New York Times Notices Rob Portman's omission of any specific sanction threat against China as part of the Administration's tougher talk over trade rules. LINK

Politics of oil:

The New York Times' Andrews follows his royalty relief story yesterday with Democratic legislators eagerly introducing legislation to amend the current law. LINK


Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times provides an insightful look into the scheduling chaos that ensnared the Senate yesterday. LINK

Sen. Lamar Alexander has been quietly amassing money and friends in his bid for Majority Whip, reports Roll Call's Erin Billings.