The Note: Political Grandstanding


Jonathan Weisman of the Washington Post has a must-read piece on the unsolvable Rubik's Cube of budget cuts, tax cuts, fiscal discipline, the image of fiscal discipline, and re-election for the Republican majority. LINK

Read it in full and carefully.

What will the Bush legacy be on these matters?

Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times has a must-read on the states are dealing with health care coverage. LINK

Read it in full and carefully.

What will the Bush legacy be on these matters?

Susan Page of USA Today in her own must read says forget the domestic budget and health care -- all that matters is Iraq. LINK

But the ultimate must reads of the day are the press releases of Speaker Hastert (not on the website, Ron and Heidi!!) and Leader Boehner responding, in rare fashion, to something going on in the other chamber -- Senator Feingold's Murthanian call for censure of the President.

Here is the Boehner release. LINK

"This maneuver is political grandstanding of the very worst kind. Senator Feingold has exposed the soft underbelly of the Democrats' positions on national security issues. Many Democrats took glee in trying to kill the USA PATRIOT Act, and now they're trying to tear down the President over a Terrorist Surveillance Program that makes Americans safer.

"While Republicans are working to support our troops and win the War on Terror, Democrats are once again showing the American people what the Democrat party is all about: their message of retreat and defeat on national security speaks volumes at a time we need to be supporting the men and women in our Armed Forces."

(How many hot-button words do you count in that 111-word statement?)

Post-publication clarification from Ron Bonjean of the Speaker's office: "To All Note Lovers, our press releases can be accessed at the homepage of on the left-hand side under "Recent Releases." LINK

So, if you want to know why some Republicans are optimistic about the midterms -- despite Weisman, Brownstein, and Page -- wonder no more.

Well aware of his capacity to "use" national security as a political trump (and ready to load some of those 111 words into his fall stump speech), President Bush crosses everyone up by speaking about the Medicare prescription drug benefit at an 11:35 am ET event in Canandaigua, NY.

The Senate takes up business on the budget today and breaks off into party policy luncheons at 12:00 pm ET. Let's see who sits next to Feingold.

The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on energy industry consolidation with executives from Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobile, Chevron, and Valero at 10:30 am ET.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee holds a hearing on quality of life in the military with Gen. John Abizaid at 1:30 pm ET and then meets with Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez at 2:00 pm ET.

First Lady Laura Bush makes remarks at the National League of Cities Conference at 10:10 am ET in Washington, DC. We bet the First Lady would say the Feingold resolution is "silly" and "political" if someone asks her about it.

Gen. Peter Pace joins Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at 1:30PM for an on-camera briefing at the Pentagon.

Katrina survivors, members of Congress, clergy and community activists march to protest the eviction of Katrina evacuees and the legitimacy of the upcoming New Orleans elections in front of the White House at 2 pm ET.

In an event sponsored by the Center for Health Transformation and the American Legislative Exchange Council, Newt Gingrich is scheduled to speak today at 9:30 am ET about healthcare, consumerism, health information technology, and pandemic preparedness at the Florida State House in Tallahasee, FL

Sen. Bob Menendez is scheduled to deliver a major security address at the Center for American Progress at 10:30 am ET. The Senator will discuss how, in the wake of the collapse of the Dubai ports deal, the country has an opportunity to take real action to increase container scanning and inspection, help developing countries improve their security, and provide additional money for research and development to improve technology. Sen. Menendez will outline his plan to strengthen security at America's ports before offering a budget amendment in the full Senate that will substantially increase port security funding.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) delivered 9:45 am ET remarks to more than 700 members of the Communications Workers of America at their annual conference taking place at the Hyatt on New Jersey Ave. in Washington, DC. The CWA's legislative-political conference will also hear from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rep. John Spratt (D-SC), and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) at 9:10 am, 10:10 am, and 10:30 am, respectively.

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) is in New York City for Republican Governors Association finance meetings.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) delivered 7:30 am ET remarks to the American Medical Association. At 9:45 am ET in Arlington, VA, she makes remarks and receives the congressional award from the Development District Association of Appalachia. She attends a 10:30 am ET Armed Services Committee hearing with Gen. Bantz Craddock and US Northern Commander Admiral Timothy Keating to examine military strategy and operational requirements in review of the defense authorization request for fiscal year 2007 and the future years defense program.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean and RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman address the AMA between 1:15 and 3:15 pm ET. The AMA conference is taking place at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC.

Gen. Wesley Clark and Admiral William Crowe are sponsoring a fundraiser for Eric Massa, a congressional candidate in New York's 29th district, with special guest former Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA) at 6:00 pm ET at the Stewart R. Mott House in Washington, DC.

Big Casino budget politics:

Washington Times' Charles Hurt reports that conservatives are demanding cuts be made in the budget and serious reforms be enacted to curb future spending, including limiting earmarks and budget caps. The GOP will pass the additional $92 billion spending on the Iraq war and Katrina this week, Notes Hurt. LINK

Roll Call reports that Leader Boehner and Whip Blunt are stepping up their involvement in crafting the 2007 budget resolution.

Sen. Feingold calls for censuring President Bush:

Vice President Cheney called Sen. Feingold's call to censure President Bush an "outrageous position" that "poses a key test for our Democratic leaders."

"Do they support the extreme and counterproductive antics of a few, or do they support a lawful program vital to the security of this Nation?" Cheney asked.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan dismissed Sen. Feingold's call for censure as having "more to do with 2008 politics than anything else," reports USA Today. LINK

Democratic Senators were in no rush to immediately vote on Feingold's censure resolution and blocked Republican efforts to do so, reports Carl Hulse of the New York Times. LINK

Charles Babington of the Washington Post writes up the cautious reaction by some Democrats to Feingold's resolution and Bill Frist's labeling it a "political ploy." LINK

The Washington Times' Charles Hurt and Joseph Curl writes that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said he hadn't read Sen. Feingold's resolution. LINK

On "Today" this morning, Sen. Biden said he thought Feingold's resolution came out of the Senator's intense frustration with the Bush Administration.

Roll Call's Erin Billings reports that as of press time, "sources were anticipating that a vote on the resolution would take place before the end of this week." She also Notes that Feingold was "the only Democrat to vote against a motion by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) to dismiss the impeachment charges against Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal. (In the actual vote, to convict Clinton of impeachable offenses, Feingold did vote with his party against conviction.)"

In her Roll Call column, Donna Brazile cheers Sen. Feingold's call for censure.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Craig Gilbert reports that Democratic support for the resolution has been all over the spectrum, with Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) questioning the measure, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) showing interest, and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) supporting. LINK

According to Bloomberg News, Lieberman would review the censure resolution but said he would "prefer to see us solve the problem." Nicholas Johnston has more on Feingold censure: LINK

Maureen Groppe of the Indianapolis Star reports that Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) doesn't support Sen. Feingold's move. LINK

"Bayh said it's not clear whether the law requiring court approval before surveillance was broken, and he instead favors revisiting and possibly updating the law."

Under a "Meet Grandstanding Sen. Russ Feingold (D)" header, the RNC issued a misleading attack on Sen. Feingold's Iraq record yesterday.

The RNC writes: "Sen. Feingold originally thought Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction – supported President Bush" followed by "now Sen. Feingold criticizes the Bush Administration for a belief he previously held."

While Sen. Feingold did say that Iraq presents "a genuine threat, especially in the form of weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological, and potentially nuclear weapons" in October of 2002, Sen. Feingold said in that same Senate floor speech that President Bush and members of his Administration "have not yet met the important burden to persuade Congress and the American people that we should invade Iraq at this time." LINK

Believing that the burden had not been met, Sen. Feingold proceeded to vote against the Iraq war resolution.

Washington Times' Stephanie Mansfield writes of "impeachment sentiment" that has caused four Vermont towns and the San Francisco Democratic congressional delegation to call President Bush to step down. LINK

Politics of Iraq:

During a speech last night in Baltimore, Gen. Peter Pace presented an uncharacteristically gloomy picture of Iraq as "a place that is having some real difficulties right now." "Everything is in place if they want to have a civil war," Pace told the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs. "Everything is also in place if they want to have a united, unified future." Just eight days earlier, while appearing on "Meet the Press," Gen. Pace had offered this assessment of developments in Iraq: "I would say they're going very, very well from everything you look at."

That line caused some private grumbling in the Pentagon that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs was either spinning or clueless, reports ABC News' Jonathan Karl.

Last night, he said his words "didn't come across as precisely as I would have liked."

More from the Baltimore Sun: LINK

Peter Baker's bold Washington Post lede: "President Bush vowed for the first time yesterday to turn over most of Iraq to newly trained Iraqi troops by the end of this year, setting a specific benchmark as he kicked off a fresh drive to reassure Americans alarmed by the recent burst of sectarian violence." LINK

And/but. . .

More Baker: "How meaningful or achievable the president's new goal is seems uncertain." And a bit more: "What constitutes control, however, depends on the definition, since no Iraqi unit is currently rated capable of operating without U.S. assistance. And vast swaths of Iraq have never been contested by insurgents, meaning they could ultimately be turned over to local forces without directly affecting the conflict."

Bush blamed Iran yesterday for supplying lethal explosives to insurgents that led to deaths of U.S. soldiers, reports Washington Times' Stephen Dinan. LINK

The New York Times' Sanger places Vice President Cheney's "last throes" comments from ten months ago in paragraph four of his story on President Bush's latest Iraq speech. LINK

Mark Silva of the Chicago Tribune writes that throughout his recent and upcoming speeches, President Bush "is repeating a formula for success in Iraq that has yet to convince a majority of Americans" while "[his] weakened standing has undermined his ability to withstand controversy." LINK

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank sketches an optimistic President Bush despite the recent reservations that ideological allies of the President have expressed about his Iraq policy. LINK

". . . in remarks intended to shore up flagging support for the war, the president warned that despite those forces' best efforts, mayhem would continue," writes James Gerstenzang of the Los Angeles Times. LINK

The Los Angeles Times was apparently surprised to hear the President cite one of its stories as an example of information which "the enemy" can access and adjust accordingly. LINK

USA Today reports in its Page cover story that nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the Iraq war is defining Bush's legacy. LINK

Bush media guru and cyclist par excellence Mark McKinnon says: "There's no question the president's legacy will be dominated by Iraq."


Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA) "has reconsidered a last-minute decision to retire and will announce Tuesday that he intends to seek re-election this year after all, a move that comes at the urging of House leaders and members of California's GOP delegation, a knowledgeable source said late Monday," reports Roll Call's Drucker.

Per the New York Times, as he formally announced his candidacy against Sen. Lieberman, Ned Lamont said, "Senator, I wish you didn't need to be challenged. But you've changed and we haven't." LINK

Coverage from the Hartford Courant: LINK

The Republican candidates running to take on Sen. Clinton in November shared a stage in Glens Falls, NY last night "focused on simply introducing themselves to roughly 150 voters in the crowd," writes the New York Times' Hakim. LINK

The Hill reports that Rep. Rahm Emmanuel is asking about 100 members of the House Democratic Entourage, erh, Caucus to pony up. LINK

Elliott Spitzer and Tom Suozzi are unleashing their bold visions for the state of New York, in the form of 30-second spots. LINK

New York Daily News on the same: LINK

Per the Chicago Tribune, Illinois state Sen. Peter Roskam (R) raised $200,000 at yesterday's Cheney fundraiser. LINK

2008: Republicans:

Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post's editorial page writes of the Lott-McCain romance on display this past weekend. Though Lott concedes that some sectors of the Republican Party base are still wary of McCain, "Pragmatism is a powerful force in politics," Lott says. LINK

"As a result, the once-conventional political wisdom -- that McCain would be a formidable general election candidate but can't make it past the gantlet of Republican primary voters -- is crumbling along with Bush's approval ratings. And though McCain is working hard to help the party in 2006, the paradox is that a rout in November would do wonders for McCain 2008," writes Marcus.

Left unclear by the piece: how Marcus will explain to her daughters her use of the phrase "big-money men" and her invocation of the been-there-done-that Peabody duck metaphor. Both, presumably, already the subject of some IM'ing in the Marcus household and the likely topic of her next piece.

James Pinkerton of Newsday reads way too much into the Memphis poll, but has a point when saying that Sen. McCain's problem is that while "the elites adore him, or at least respect him," the activists, "who actually pick the nominee, don't seem to like him very much." LINK

John Brummett of the Arkansas News Bureau argues that "the real winner" in Memphis was Sen. Clinton and that Gov. Huckabee's campaign "made gains" as well, while Sen. McCain received a cold shower: "Republicans may not have sense enough to nominate John McCain, their surest general election winner." LINK

Roll Call reports that Sen. McCain has "unveiled a proposal to limit donations to 527 organizations to $25,000 per person each year, or $50,000 each election cycle, that if enacted could be a huge blow to the groups' hopes of being a force in the 2006 elections."

The Hutchinson News states dryly: "Brownback fares poorly as '08 presidential nominee." LINK

The AP's indispensable Glen Johnson reports that Gov. Romney is undecided on proposed health pool fees. LINK

Romney said yesterday that he has "yet to decide whether he favors a legislative proposal to assess a charge on companies that do not provide health insurance to their employees, but he suggested a reason he might support it."

The Boston Globe's Scott Helman writes about Gov. Romney's latest remarks on gay adoption. LINK

Per the Boston Globe, Gov. Romney said yesterday that he would "file a 'very narrow' bill aimed at letting Catholic Charities and other religious groups exclude same-sex couples from their adoption programs if including them violates religious tenets. But he also noted that gays and lesbians have a right to adopt."

Washington Times' Cheryl Wetzstein reports that the Catholic Charities of the Boston Archdiocese's decision to halt adoption services in protest of homosexual adoptions may lead other Catholic Charities agencies to follow in their footsteps. LINK

The Boston Herald Notes that a new HBO series on Mormonism could affect voters views on Gov. Romney's religion and cost him in '08. LINK

Top Romney spokeswoman (really: more of a strategist), Julie Teer, leaves Beacon Hill for a political action committee called the Commonwealth PAC set up by Romney. LINK

The New York Post reports that Sen. Schumer is putting a lid on Gov. Pataki's pick for a federal judge. LINK

2008: Democrats:

Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) "sounds like a presidential hopeful," writes Ron Hayes of the Palm Beach Post discussing the governor's address to a Florida luncheon yesterday. LINK

In Pat Buchanan's American Conservative magazine, Justin Raimondo pens a cover story on "Hillary the Hawk" that portrays the former First Lady as a war-inclined politician, representing "the Amazonian wing of the Democratic party."

Clintons of Chappaqua:

The New York Post reports that Mark Patricof - "of the powerhouse Democratic fund-raising family," is hosting a soiree to raise money for Sen. Clinton. LINK

Dean's Democrats:

The Union Leader's editorial board defends New Hampshire's honor and wisdom, arguing that moving the state back in the nominating process is a "cockamamie" plan that will cause the Democratic Party to, "further insulate itself from the American public." LINK

"The voters can forget about meaningfully interacting with the candidates; they will be lucky to catch a glimpse of them."

The Los Angeles Times ed board opines that if she decides to run, Sen. Clinton will be helped by a Democratic Party move to allow up to four states to move their contests forward in the electoral calendar. LINK

"The change will make it even harder for insurgent campaigns to gain traction over time, and it's especially regrettable that the party will allow two of these contests to be caucuses -- where people have to attend a meeting and speak up for a candidate -- instead of primaries, which are far more democratic."

The New York Daily News' analysis of recent Democratic behavior has it helping the President. LINK

Katherine Harris:

Katherine Harris' much anticipated "major announcement" gets the New York Times treatment today. LINK


Note how Tom Rooney and Mark Foley carefully calibrate their responses to questions about how a Harris withdrawal may affect them.

But perhaps that's premature, Timeswoman Goodnough writes, "Some Republicans speculated Monday that Ms. Harris would announce not that she was dropping out but that she was resigning from the House to devote all her time to the Senate race."

Jeremy Wallace of the Herald Tribune writes that a Harris announcement is "expected" on Wednesday. He also writes that if Harris "pulls the plug," GOPers "won't have a lot of replacements to choose from." LINK

The Fitzgerald investigation:

Jim VandeHei interviews Ben Bradlee about the latest installment of Vanity Fair scooping the Washington Post on naming a Bob Woodward source. LINK

"Vanity Fair is reporting that former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee says it is reasonable to assume former State Department official Richard L. Armitage is likely the source who revealed CIA operative Valerie Plame's name to Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward," writes VandeHei.

More: "'I don't think I said it,' Bradlee said. 'I know who his source is, and I don't want to get into it. . . . I have not told a soul who it is.'"

VandeHei reports the Vanity Fair reporter was unavailable for an interview.

Bush Administration agenda and personality:

Per the New York Times, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage may be called as a witness in a trial concerning, in part, the leaking of classified information to a journalist. LINK

Claude Allen:

The New York Times' Urbina and Kirkpatrick chart the rise and possible fall of Claude Allen's career. LINK

New Orleans:

The Los Angeles Times on Mitch Landrieu's campaign trip to Houston, TX where an estimated 45,000 registered New Orleans voters currently reside. LINK

The Houston Chronicle's Kristen Mack on the same: LINK

Port politics:

With the exact terms of the DPW plan still murky, the Wall Street Journal exclusively looks at what the company was prepared to offer at the end -- before the actual end. LINK

On where the Dubai deal stands, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner said on CNN yesterday that "the deal is over." LINK

Bloomberg News' Laura Litvan reports that chairwoman of the homeland security panel Susan Collins said her proposal, co-sponsored by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, would eliminate the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and be replaced by a Committee to Secure Commerce led by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

The Schwarzenegger Era:

San Francisco Chronicle ed board weighs in on whether or not Schwarzenegger's pledge to curb emissions of heat-trapping gases will lead to action or will remain just plain rhetoric. LINK


The DeLay team chalked up a win yesterday as a Texas state appeals court threw out over 30 subpoenas issued by Travis County prosecutors investigating DeLay's political fundraising activities over the last decade, writes R.G. Ratcliff in the Houston Chronicle. LINK

The politics of porn:

After getting her $2500 contribution all sorted out and in her own name, Mary Carey -- the porn star politician of California recall fame -- is all set to attend Thursday evening's NRCC fundraising dinner at which President Bush is expected as well.

Carey was disappointed to learn on Monday that the NRCC would not accept the original contribution sent from her producer's bank account in her legal name, Mary Cook.

She got in touch with the NRCC and sent $2500 from her account in her professional name, but she plans revenge. "I won't dress as conservatively as I did last year. I'm going to wear something more revealing this year because the NRCC is being mean to me," Carey told The Note.

NRCC spokesman Carl Forti responded by saying, "It is illegal to contribute to any political organization under someone else's name. Therefore we could not accept a donation from her producer in her name. If Mary is mad at anyone she should be mad at the FEC."

Carey, who says she loves the President, is searching for a Washington, DC venue to hold a Thursday afternoon press conference to reveal her dinner outfit.