The Note: Basically Under Control


(It's The Note, so Notes first.)

(Today's Note summary contains 3 jokes, 4 moments of sarcasm, and three interludes of irony.)

(Find 'em if you can, hostile bloggers.)

(Our analysis in the quiz answers is the product of current conditions and should not be used as the basis for future actions or investment.)

We are so, so embarrassed that it took us this long to figure out how the Dubai Ports World imbroglio was going to end.

Despite the huffing and puffing you hear/read about "a veto showdown with the White House" and "a big election year issue," the Miersian ending is clear, and it falls short of what Krauthammer called for.

Whether you want to make the White House the hand or the glove in the metaphor, it is clear that behind the scenes, the Bush Administration is working closely with DPW to figure out how to handle this thing. Given what the will of the House is (to which the Speaker is bowing) and given that Sen./Dr./Leader Frist can only hold out for so long, the handwriting is on the proverbial wall.

The outcome: there will be no veto because DPW will give in to pressure and withdraw the U.S. portion of the deal.

So this is another case in which Senator Rockefeller's analysis is correct. The outcome is "basically under the control of the White House."

However, putting out the port fire does not mean the President's poll numbers will improve enough to avoid losing control of Congress in November. To see what his chances of that are, take today's Note quiz.

For each of the following, does the White House have (a) no control or little control; (b) some control; or (c) total control?

To keep the Republican majorities in Congress for the last two years of his term, the President needs 6 out of 10 either (b)s or (c)s.

1. the Senate Intelligence Committee (a) no control or little control; (b) some control; or (c) total control?

2. the Abramoff investigation (a) no control or little control; (b) some control; or (c) total control?

3. the Libby trial and Fitzgerald investigation (a) no control or little control; (b) some control; or (c) total control?

4. how Americans view Bush's performance on the economy (a) no control or little control; (b) some control; or (c) total control?

5. what David Rogers thinks about emergency defense spending bills (a) no control or little control; (b) some control; or (c) total control?

6. how many House Republicans in shaky districts retire (a) no control or little control; (b) some control; or (c) total control?

7. what conferences Dana Milbank attends (a) no control or little control; (b) some control; or (c) total control?

8. the amount spent supporting Republican candidates (a) no control or little control; (b) some control; or (c) total control?

9. Elizabeth Dole's acumen (a) no control or little control; (b) some control; or (c) total control?

10. facts on the ground in Iraq (a) no control or little control; (b) some control; or (c) total control?

For the answers, see the end of the summary.

Now: one more quiz question: Quick, when did you last watch an enrollment ceremony on Capitol Hill?

Speaker Hastert, Senate Majority Leader Frist, and other members of the Republican leadership hold a high-profile and rare enrollment ceremony of the USA Patriot Act at 10:15 am ET. (Just in case you thought the Republican Party was not the party of national security matters, they'll try their best to remind you of that today.)

ABC's Ann Compton reports that a Thursday morning signing ceremony at the White House is expected.

Helping to push along that tough-on-security theme, Chairman Lewis is expected to lay the groundwork for attaching a bill to scuttle the Dubai ports deal to the (must-pass?) Iraq and Afghanistan supplemental during the House Appropriations Committee 4:00 pm ET hearing today. (And, apparently, the proposal has the blessing of Speaker Hastert -- or so a Hillary Clinton-channeling Ron Bonjean suggests.)

President and Mrs. Bush are visiting the Gulf Coast region, but we are confident they will take out some time to try our quiz (or, at least, be briefed on the answers of the senior staff). The First Couple starts the day in New Orleans this morning and then travels on to Mississippi before arriving back at the White House at 5:20 pm ET.

House Democratic Leader Pelosi and other members of the leadership will brief the media on their recent bipartisan CODEL to the Gulf Coast at 10:00 am ET.

Secretary Chertoff testifies before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Gulf Coast hurricane recovery at 9:30 am ET.

At 11:00 am ET, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) and the House Republican Study Committee will attempt to re-sign the Contract with America when it presents its proposed balanced budget based on the 1995 Gingrich package.

Markup continues on Chairman Specter's immigration reform bill today and tomorrow. Meanwhile, 1600 Irish Americans descend on the Capitol today in support of the McCain-Kennedy plan for immigration reform. Sen. Kennedy addresses the group at 2:45 pm ET. Sen. Clinton is also expected to attend the rally.

At a 9:15 am ET speech at the National Press Club this morning, Sen. Hillary Clinton encouraged women entrepreneurship on this International Women's Day.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) holds a 2:00 pm hearing on the potential effects of a flat federal income tax.

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) will swear in Ariane Vuono as Associate Justice of the Appeals Court in Northampton, MA at 11:00 am ET before heading down to New York City for a private dinner at 7:00 pm ET.

At 11:00 am ET, SEIU President Andrew Stern and leaders in the nursing profession hold a conference call to discuss a new organization "that will bring together nurses from across the country and advocate for real solutions to the nation's patient care crisis."

The George Washington University's Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet hosts the 13th "Politics Online Conference" in Washington, DC.

Answers: 1-c; 2-a; 3-b; 4-a; 5-b; 6-c; 7-a; 8-c; 9-a; 10-b

Port politics:

The New York Times' Carl Hulse writes of the "remarkable public breach" between Republicans in Congress and the White House on ports -- and says election year politics are to blame. LINK

"The decision by House Republicans to act was infused with election year political calculations. Republican members have been bombarded with protests from constituents alarmed at the proposal, and the agreement for a 45-day review has done little to slow the outpouring. 'This is a very big political problem,' Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House majority leader, said Tuesday."

"Several Republicans also said they saw little alternative but to act or face the prospect of Democrats' taking the initiative, potentially cutting into a Republican political advantage on national security issues."

The Wall Street Journal gets the best quote, with Rep. Don Manzullo (R-IL) promising trouble ahead for the White House: "This duck is dead. Either the president finds a way to kill it or we'll have to ourselves. There is no out on this." (See our summary above, however.)

The Washington Times writes up the House GOPs determination to block the DP World deal, giving Notable play to Chairman Lewis' intention to lay a foundation in committee today. LINK

The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman on the collapsing White House efforts to hold off legislation on the deal as House GOP leaders agreed to "allow a vote next week that could kill the deal." LINK

The Hill's O'Connor details the plans for the amendment to the emergency supplemental spending bill, which is "a political imperative for the White House and members of both parties." LINK

"We just can't base our foreign policy on that late 1970s Top 40 ballad, 'Feelings,'" Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) told Imus this morning as he pronounced the Dubai ports deal all but dead.

"Suffice to say, it is just time to say 'no' to this deal and that's what we will do in this vote next week," added Hayworth before going on to compare the President's push for the deal to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's attempt to pack the Supreme Court.

"Presidents, in the course of human events. . . sometimes they need to rethink decisions, that is certainly the case here," said Hayworth.

While in the "strategy session" corner of "The Situation Room" on CNN yesterday, Bill Bennett succinctly explained the political problem the President has caused for himself and his party.

Bennett said the President "is confusing the American people. What George Bush had before, Wolf, was moral clarity on this issue. And what's happened because of this issue, because of this controversy, is that clarity has been lost."

American businesses have begun "quietly lobbying" on Dubai's behalf, reports the New York Times, and are planning "public moves to smooth" relations between the U.S. and the U.A.E. LINK

Politics of domestic surveillance:

The Washington Post's Walter Pincus writes the Senate Intelligence Committee voted "along party lines yesterday to reject a Democratic proposal to investigate the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program and instead approved establishing, with White House approval, a seven-member panel to oversee the effort." LINK

Was Sen. Frist in support of a congressional investigation before he opposed it? From First's original press release: "FRIST SUPPORTS INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE'S EFFORT TO INVESTIGATE NSA TERRORIST SURVEILLANCE PROGRAM"


Per the New York Times (and, perhaps, in a sign of Republicans' hesitation to be seen as being on the same page as the Bush Administration), Republicans on the Intelligence Committee do not want yesterday's agreement with the White House viewed as a compromise; instead, they are spinning it as the Administration capitulating to the demands of Senate Republicans. LINK

ABC's Zach Wolf reports, "Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) implied that the White House had agreed in principle to the deal after prodding from members of the committee. 'This is an agreement we insisted upon and got,' he told reporters after the vote. 'This story has been in the news for 90 days. I worry about the diminished capacity of the program even now.'"

The Los Angeles Times reports, "Roberts said Republicans on the committee would include himself, DeWine, Sens. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and Christopher S. Bond of Missouri. Democrats have yet to select which of their members will serve on the subcommittee." LINK

Patriot Act politics:

While the House is giving the President heartburn on the ports deal, on another national security issue -- the Patriot Act -- yesterday's vote gave Bush "an important victory," writes the New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg. LINK

The Washington Post on the passed changes to the Patriot Act: LINK


The Houston Chronicle's Levine and Rice report that Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) handily beat his three challengers in yesterday's Republican congressional primary with 62% of the vote. Tom Campbell, DeLay's strongest Republican competitor, received 30% of the vote. LINK

Note this excellent detail: "DeLay kept in touch with his campaign staff by phone, said spokeswoman Shannon Flaherty, who was at a celebration of about a dozen staffers and supporters at DeLay's Greatwood campaign headquarters. It featured a white sheetcake frosted with the phrase: 'We love Tom DeLay.'"

Per the New York Times, DeLay's victory in a Republican primary yesterday was "expected" but "still a triumph" for the embattled congressman. LINK

Looking forward to November, the Washington Post's Sylvia Moreno Notes that DeLay and Lampson are "virtually tied for cash on hand. According to campaign finance reports filed in mid-February, DeLay had $1.3 million in the bank to Lampson's $1.4 million. According to a Houston Chronicle poll taken in early January, Lampson also had a lead over DeLay of eight percentage points." LINK

Politics of Iran:

The New York Times' wraps the Vice President's speech before AIPAC yesterday on Iran by writing that he used "blunt language that seemed to hint of military action or possibly the overthrow of the government in Tehran, though he mentioned neither option explicitly." LINK

Feel like you're not quite up to speed on Iran's uranium enrichment capabilities? Play catch-up with USA Today's handy write-thru of what might happen now that Iran is set to face the U.N. Security Council regarding its nuclear activities. LINK

Bloomberg's Janine Zacharia has analysts saying that President Bush's need for help in containing Iran's nuclear ambitions is "taking pressure off Russian President Vladimir Putin to open up his nation's political system." LINK

The politics of Iraq:

Despite the likely drawdown in the number of troops overseas, the Wall Street Journal's David Rogers reports that the bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is expected to grow this year. Of the monthly tab of $5.9 billion in Iraq and another $1 billion in Afghanistan, Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, says "there are unprecedented costs. It's staggering."

Bush agenda:

Thomas Friedman writes in the New York Times that he cannot endorse the nuclear arms deal President Bush worked out with India last week. LINK

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank sketches a Cato forum that featured Bruce Bartlett, a Reagan economic official, and Andrew Sullivan, a conservative blogger, bashing President Bush from the right. LINK

The Clintonistas will herald this item from Bloomberg's Heidi Przybyla: "While high-income Americans have prospered from Bush's policies, reaping most of the benefits from the tax cuts he pushed through Congress during his first term, a majority of high-end earners told pollsters that former President Bill Clinton did a better job than Bush in managing the economy." LINK

Dean's Democrats:

In a must-read, the Washington Post's indispensable Tom Edsall reports that a group of well-connected Democrats led by Clinton big Harold Ickes is "raising millions of dollars to start a private firm that plans to compile huge amounts of data on Americans to identify Democratic voters and blunt what has been a clear Republican lead in using technology for political advantage." LINK

Ickes and others involved "acknowledge" that their activities are "in part" a "vote of no confidence" that the DNC under Chairman Howard Dean is "ready to compete with Republicans on the technological front."

Edsall has DNC communications director Karen Finney saying: "From an institutional standpoint, this is one of the most important things the DNC can and should do."

"Ickes's effort is drawing particular notice among Washington operatives who know about it because of speculation that he is acting to build a campaign resource for a possible 2008 presidential run by Hillary Clinton."

Ickes has "quietly raised an estimated $7.5 million in start-up money for Data Warehouse. A prospectus said the company will need at least $11.5 million in initial capital."

Note the role of the Mighty Quinn!!!

GOP agenda:

In case you thought the Democratic Party was alone in its inability to roll out its 2006 message package, check this out from Majority Leader Boehner's pen and pad briefing when asked about the Republican vision.

Boehner: "I am working with our conference to develop a comprehensive vision, collective vision for our party. It is a long, slow, arduous process. Out of that, I hope that it will dictate a direction that we are going to go this year and long term. And while I would hope -- I would hope that we could agree on one big issue that we would fight for, you know, it is really for the Members to decide. What I have got to do is provide the process to see if we can get ourselves there."

Lobbying reform:

Among other changes, reforming lawmakers' use of corporate jets will take center stage this week during the Senate's consideration of lobbying reform possibilities, the New York Times predicts. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Mary Curtius reports that a Senate disclosure proposal is drawing wide opposition from conservative and liberal groups "normally at loggerheads in policy debates." LINK

Roll Call's Ben Pershing reports that while Leader Boehner supports widening the scope of earmark reform, he has concerns that increased scrutiny could result in a greater number of earmark requests from Members.

The Abramoff affair:

The Campaign to Defend the Constitution is launching an ad campaign targeting James Dobson, Rev. Louis Sheldon, and Ralph Reed for allegedly being "knee-deep in the Jack Abramoff scandal." The liberal group is spending $200,000 on a New York Times print ad, a Web ad, and a television spot that will accuse the three Christian conservative leaders of "supporting gambling interests and casinos" that will air on CNN and Fox in Washington, DC, New York City, and Colorado Springs, CO. Kate Michelman, Max Blumenthal, Prof. Erwin Chemerinsky, and the omnipresent Jessica Smith will launch the ad campaign on a 1:00 pm ET conference call with reporters.

The Fitzgerald investigation:

The CIA is fighting efforts by Scooter Libby's lawyers that would compel the agency to turn over presidential briefing documents related to the CIA leak case, reports the New York Times. LINK

The Washington Post on same: LINK

Casting and counting:

The Golden State GOP has suspended its fee-based voter registration program while prosecutors in San Bernardino and Orange counties investigate "possible registration fraud connected to private firms hired by the party," the Los Angeles Times reports. LINK

Politics of immigration:

Per the Washington Post's Paul Schwartzman, thousands of people massed outside the Capitol on Tuesday to protest proposed legislation that they contend would allow law enforcement authorities to "prosecute social service workers, doctors and other professionals who help illegal immigrants." LINK

The Washington Post's Robert Samuelson calls for building a fence and amnesty. LINK

Politics of abortion:

Roll Call's Tom Stanton Notes that Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) spoke out against his state's near-total abortion ban yesterday, calling the law an "extreme and radical approach" and prompting South Dakota Democrats to question the strong grip Gov. Mike Rounds (R-SD) seemingly has on winning re-election in 2006.


Clay Robison of the Houston Chronicle reports former U.S. Rep. Chris Bell (D-TX) will challenge Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) for the Governor's seat in the November election. Other candidates in the crowded race may include Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, humorist Kinky Friedman, and Libertarian James Werner. LINK

The Houston Chronicle provides primary results for the races you care about and plenty more. LINK

Democratic consultants who brought Gov. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA) to Richmond have been split by the two Democratic challengers to Sen. George Allen (R-VA): Information Technology Association of America head Harris Miller and Reagan administration Secretary of the Navy James Webb, reports Robert Barnes of the Washington Post. LINK

In his first press conference as a Senate candidate, former Reagan Navy Secretary James Webb (D-VA) said: "The Republican Party of George W. Bush is not the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan." LINK

Webb also said: "The foreign policy of this administration has been taken over by people who would do something we've never done in our history, and that is to attempt to export our ideology at the point of a gun." LINK

The New York Daily News takes Sen. Hillary Clinton challenger Kathleen Troia (K.T.) McFarland to task for her campaign filings, which reporter Michael McAuliff says reveal McFarland as "a political novice claiming golf outings as campaign costs, in apparent violation of the law." LINK

McFarland also took criticism yesterday from her primary opponent, John Spencer, for calling herself the equivalent of a "2 1/2-star general" (or is it 3?). Said Spencer, "I think that's inflating her resumé and, as a combat veteran who served as an officer in the infantry in Vietnam, I take offense." LINK

In last evening's first mayoral debate in New Orleans, "front-runners mostly played it safe," while "several second-tier candidates tried to make headway by throwing jabs and occasional grenades," write Gordon Russell and Frank Donze of the Times-Picayune. LINK

Bay State gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick (D) says he has the finances to run in 2006, but the Boston Globe Notes that although Patrick has the resources available to pay his $27,000 monthly mortgage payments, he also has "accumulated significant debt." LINK

Chris Mihos, a Massy Republican gone independent candidate for the 2006 election Notes the words of George Washington in his Boston Globe op-ed today and adds, "Both political parties are more concerned with holding onto power than with helping people." LINK

Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey narrows down her choices for a running mate in Massachusetts for 2006. LINK

In a vote of 121 to 29, the town of Newfane, VT called on Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to file articles of impeachment against President Bush, "alleging that he misled the nation about Iraq and engaged in illegal domestic spying." Sanders calls that "impractical." LINK


Jessica Alaimo and Bob Cusack of The Hill wonder why 2008 hopefuls Sen. George Allen, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) have not yet visited the Gulf Coast, and if this "could prove to be a political liability" for the Senators. LINK

The Washington Times' John McCaslin checks in on the '08 horse race, and decides Sens. Clinton and Allen are out in front. LINK

2008: Republicans:

Going against the CW grain, Matt Lewis writes of the importance of Saturday's straw poll (which he sees as a measure of voter intensity) at the SRLC, on Human Events online. LINK

The Washington Times picks up CNN's scoop that Sen. Trent Lott will have lots of nice things to say about Sen. McCain at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. LINK

In an op-ed in the Washington Times, Cal Thomas writes up his interview with Sen. McCain in which the Arizona Senator speaks of Sam Brownback's decency, George Allen's attractiveness, and the need for utmost respect when running against a woman candidate. LINK

Alexander Bolton of The Hill reviews Sen. McCain's previous efforts on lobbying reform but also points out that some advocacy groups are disappointed with the role he is currently playing in the debate as some see him trying to cozy-up to 2008 big-time donors. LINK

The Washington Post's Michael Powell and Zachary Goldfarb write up Quinnipiac's "feeling thermometer," showing that Rudy Giuliani is the politician whom most Americans feel "warm and cuddly about." LINK

Be sure to Note that Giuliani obtained his "hottest rating" from white evangelical voters. "What's not known," write the Washington Post duo, "is how many of those often-core Republican voters are aware that the once-annulled, once-divorced, thrice-married Giuliani favors abortion rights, gay rights and gun control."

With his eyes on '08, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) has, "reorganized his communications operation to acknowledge the more aggressive style instituted by Amy Call, his deputy communications director," writes Paul Bedard of U.S. News and World Report. LINK

2008: Democrats:

In a must-read, the New York Times' Raymond Hernandez reviews how Sen. Hillary Clinton is locking up "dozens of the most influential Democratic fund-raisers in the nation" in advance of a possible '08 run. Hernandez has Chris Lehane saying the strategy is reminiscent of George W. Bush's in the late 90's. LINK

"Already, the Clinton finance team has amassed more cash than any other potential Democratic presidential candidate, $17.1 million, underscoring what many Democrats say is the tactical edge that Mrs. Clinton has going into 2008, with an experienced and well-financed campaign.

"But as important, Mrs. Clinton's finance team appears determined to build such a big bank account and to develop relationships with many of the party's top fund-raisers in an effort to make it harder for potential rivals to compete in 2008, Democrats closely monitoring the Clinton camp's efforts say."

The new ABC News poll about Sen. Clinton's favorability is interpreted by the New York Daily News as a sign that "anger is apparently working" for New York's junior senator. LINK

The New York Observer's Ben Smith examines the growing oeuvre of Hillary Clinton-Lit: "Mrs. Clinton is the subject of about 30 volumes already. About a dozen more will be written, researched or set in type between now and the fall of 2007—when the 2008 Presidential race will be in full swing." LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

The Los Angeles Times' Michael Finnegan reports that even with labor tilting his way, Phil Angelides is facing "mounting financial pressure and questions among some party strategists about whether he has responded aggressively enough to the threat posed by his June 6 primary rival, state Controller Steve Westly." LINK

Be sure to Note the dueling quotes from Garry South and Paul Maslin: Gray Davis comrades who are working against each other in the Westly-Angelides race.

(And big Wednesday in the Lehane household, what with his being quoted here too.)


David Savage of the Los Angeles Times writes that Chief Justice John Roberts has turned the "famously quarrelsome justices, at least for now, into a surprisingly agreeable group that is becoming known for unanimous rulings." LINK


Gov. Jeb Bush used his speech "to battle speculation that he's a lame-duck governor -- even as four candidates looking to succeed him sat in the audience," and "turned the speech into a sales pitch for what is seen as a make-or-break attempt" to revive his private-school voucher program, writes John Kennedy of the Orlando Sentinel. LINK

Brendan Farrington of the AP has the four potential next governors' reactions to the speech. LINK

Alan Greenspan received an $8.5 million book advance from Penguin Press, a figure that the New York Times says represents "the second-largest advance ever paid for a nonfiction book." LINK

A former aide to Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has renewed a complaint to the House's ethics panel alleging that the Michigan Democrat "compelled his staff to work in election campaigns and to do personal errands for him." LINK

Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA) made history yesterday, but probably not the kind of history he wanted to make. The Washington Times reports: "House Republicans yesterday rejected Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's nominee for secretary of the commonwealth, voting down a gubernatorial secretary appointee for the first time in the state's history." The governor likely won't let this go easily, telling reporters, "They're going to regret it." LINK