The Note: Mincing and Parsing

The problem is that Republicans do not have consensus among themselves on any of these issues. The good news for the White House: with a few notable exceptions, the Republican leadership in the House and Senate see eye-to-eye with the Bush Administration on questions of means and goals.

In addition, for the midterms, Republicans have

-- more money in the bank and a recent history of better organization

-- a chance to eventually create contrast with Democratic candidates on some issues

-- the possibility that us voters will give them credit for the (mostly) strong economy

-- a chance that enough troops will come home from Iraq to make people feel better

But as Yogi Berra says: Prediction is difficult, especially about the future. The White House, through luck and skill, might be able to turn this around. Wise Democrats often say that they wish the election was next week because nobody knows what the environment will look like a little less than eight months from now.

But today, things are grim for the Republicans and there is no obvious solution in sight. Bush political advisers have few solutions to offer and making staff changes (which the President might not even do) does not address the problems they have.

Then all four of them talked about how John Roberts seems so nice, how hard it is to raise kids these days, and how much they liked the First Lady (That happens in every focus group, "Frank" reminded us.).

With the voices of Terri, Larry, Drew, and (especially) Mariah ringing in his ears, President Bush met with members of Congress about the line-item veto at 9:35 am ET; he attends a St. Patrick's Day luncheon at the Capitol at 12:30 pm ET; he participates in a photo op with recipients of the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor at the White House at 2:30 pm ET; and he attends an NRCC fundraising dinner at the Washington Hilton and Towers this evening.

The Senate conducts a series of roll call votes starting at 10:30 am ET, including a vote on legislation (HJ Res 47) that would raise the nation's statutory debt limit.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) holds a 9:45 am ET press conference on his censure resolution in the Senate Radio and Television Gallery.

Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) holds a 15-minute on-camera briefing at 10:30 am ET in H-321.

Will Majority Leader Boehner repeat -- on camera -- his Tuesday comments about the electorate's anxiety over Iraq?

Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY), the self-described "nuts-and-bolts-county-chairman" in charge of the NRCC, holds a pen and pad briefing with reporters at 11:30 am ET.

Suggested question for Chairman Reynolds: Majority Leader Boehner said Tuesday that anxiety about the Iraq war seems to cloud the perception of what is happening in Washington, whether it is the economy or other issues, and suggested that that anxiety will have some impact on the midterm elections. Do you agree with Mr. Boehner and if so, what do you think that impact will be?

The House meets at 10:00 am ET to consider the fiscal 2006 "Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for defense, the Global War on Terror, and Hurricane Recovery" and the "Online Freedom of Speech Act."

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and the president of Citizens Against Government Waste testified at 9:30 am ET before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on "Earmark Reform: Understanding the Obligation of Funds Transparency Act."

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