The Note: Mincing and Parsing


With the United States facing so many difficult challenges at home and abroad, The Note decided to convene our usual focus groups of relatives and friends and friends of friends to get a sense of what real people are thinking about the nation's leaders, problems, and the future.

As always, the group -- convened by webcam through Yahoo Messenger by a vendor we call "Frank" -- consisted of:

-- Our cousin Terri, a homemaker from Lindlay, Ohio

-- Our college roommate's brother Larry, a pharmaceutical sales rep from Tampa, Florida.

-- Our former travel agent, Mariah, a travel agent in Tempe, Arizona.

-- A guy we met on Outward Bound in '96, Drew, a trucker/songwriter from Rafton, Minnesota.

It is always great to hear real voices, saying the darndest things about the issues they confront around the kitchen tables of America. We started out asking them about Iraq, but, interestingly, they had other things on their minds.


Unless Cheney, Card, and/or Rove depart, any new person will have trouble wielding much influence. But Coats seems good.

Terri agreed, and added:

Unless the President is willing and able to make policy changes, a new person helping with PR or Congress isn't likely to fix much. And can Don Evans really tell the President things he doesn't want to hear?

Drew, clearly agitated, had a different perspective:

The White House staff has spent hours and hours trying to figure out what to do about Iraq -- it is hard to imagine a new person suddenly solving what is the big problem. The President's main problem is with the American people, and bringing in a new senior adviser is not going to matter to any real people. Howard Baker should mind his own bees' wax.

Then Mariah, who had been quiet the whole time, said this:

The steady drumbeat of weak poll numbers, the apparent quagmire in Iraq, a series of bad mistakes and bad judgments, widespread calls for a staff shake-up, and a Congress filled with people who do not like, trust, or respect the competence of the White House.

This is what President Bush faces now -- and for the foreseeable future.

The State of the Union seems to have done nothing to change the President's fortunes.

His legislative agenda is neither moving swiftly nor dramatic enough to have a big impact on the 2006 midterm elections.

The negative known unknowns (possible Fitzgerald indictments, possible Abramoff-related indictments, more bad news out of Iraq or Iran) are more numerous than the positive ones (catching bin Laden and what else?).

As narrow as the playing field is in terms of competitive seats, some congressional and Bush-related Republicans now believe they can lose control of the House and/or the Senate even without the Democrats having a message. Republicans worry that even their national security trump card (circa 2002 and 2004) might not work this time.

If you are waiting for the "on the other hand" part of this analysis, your wait is over, but don't expect much.

In terms of the legislative agenda, it is possible (although not likely) that congressional Republicans

-- can pass a budget that somehow helps them

-- can pass an immigration bill that somehow helps them

-- can pass ethics reform that somehow helps them

-- can pass tax cuts that somehow helps them

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."

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) attends a series of committee hearings today, including an Environment and Public Works hearing on protecting the Great Lakes, an Armed Services Committee Hearing to examine military strategy and operational requirements, and a Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on public health and medical preparedness.

The former First Lady will also attend the Speaker's 12:00 pm ET luncheon honoring Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern at 12:00 pm ET in the Rayburn Room of the Capitol.

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) swore in Mary Dacey White as Associate Justice of the Lynn District Court at 9:00 am ET. He announces $516.5 million in Commonwealth Capital funds to support smart growth across Massachusetts at 10:30 am ET.

DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) holds an 11:00 am ET press conference at the DNC to discuss the GOP's "lack of a message" and to release a memo to reporters about the GOP in "disarray."

The American Ireland Fund holds a 6:00 pm ET national gala honoring Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) for their commitment to the peace process in Ireland at the National Building Museum. Participants include Ireland's Ahern and American Ireland Fund President Kingsley Aikins.

First Lady Laura Bush and Education Secretary Margaret Spellings participate in a helping America's youth/striving readers event at 10:20 am ET. Mrs. Bush delivers remarks at the Ayenda Afghan Children Initiative benefit dinner with Amb. Said Jawad and Mrs. Shamin Jawad of Afghanistan at the Embassy of Afghanistan this evening.

Former House/Senate candidate Paul Hackett joins fellow veterans Jon Soltz and Paul Rieckhoff at a 10:00 am ET press conference to announce which candidates the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America PAC is endorsing for the 2006 election cycle. Tonight, IAVA PAC holds a Washington, DC fundraiser with Wesley Clark and Bob Kerrey scheduled to attend.

The legislative action arm of the Family Research Council holds a 12:00 pm ET press conference at the National Press Club to announce plans to hold the first annual "Washington Briefing: Values Voters Summit" in Washington, DC this September. FRC pledges to bring together "thousands of values voters" just prior to the midterms so they can hear from " potential presidential candidates, elected officials and pro-family leaders."

FRC is also releasing a poll showing "significant discontent" among "values voters" who were "so decisive" in 2004.

Poll position:

There are two new sets of data striking fear into the collective heart of the majority party.

Proving the point that it's Iraq -- not a burned-out Andy Card -- that represents the most significant problem for President Bush, this morning's NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows Iraq continues to be the elephant in the room and the largest contributor to President Bush's anemic 37% approval rating (his lowest approval rating ever in the poll). LINK

Fully 57% of the poll's respondents feel less confident that the war will end successfully (compared with 50% in December), while 50% say the war has weakened America's standing in the world and 44% say it has increased the threat posed by Iran. Says Republican pollster Bill McInturff, the poll shows the Iraq war "is enveloping this presidency."

While the news for Democrats isn't much better -- the party has merely a 32% approval rating among all Americans, while the all-important independents give the party a negative approval by a 38%-22% margin -- you can bet that the take-away message for Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Rahm Emanuel is this pair of numbers: 50%-37% -- the margin by which voters say they would prefer Democratic control of Congress after the midterm elections.

Full results of the WSJ/NBC poll are available at LINK

. As for the Pew survey, Andrew Kohut writes: "In the aftermath of the Dubai ports deal, President Bush's approval rating has hit a new low and his image for honesty and effectiveness has been damaged. Yet the public uncharacteristically has good things to say about the role that Congress played in this high-profile Washington controversy." LINK

What struck us more than President Bush's record-low 33% approval rating (statistically tied with congressional approval!) or the 56% of Americans who say the President is "out of touch" with what is going on with the government, was Kohut's write-up of the one-word description question.

Kohut: "The president's personal image also has weakened noticeably, which is reflected in people's one-word descriptions of the president. Honesty had been the single trait most closely associated with Bush, but in the current survey 'incompetent' is the descriptor used most frequently."

A survey by Wilson Research Strategies analyzing the DNC's televised ad that questions President Bush's past promises on various issues points out that "viewers gave the ad a rating of 6.2 on a scale of 1 to 10 for 'strong message,' on average. But the figure dipped to 4.9 for 'appealing,'" reports The Hill. LINK

"Chris Wilson, president of Wilson Research Strategies, Noted that while many viewers were unimpressed by the low-budget production they tended to trust it. On average, viewers gave the ad a 5.6 for 'credible.'"

White House shake-up?:

Mike Allen lists the following potential additions to President Bush's inner circle White House team in his story: Don Evans, Josh Bolten, Rob Portman, Karen Hughes, Marc Racicot, Ed Gillespie, and Dan Coats. LINK

Deborah Orin's New York Post column has Terry Holt fueling the need for a shake-up fire and some very kind words for Karen Hughes. LINK

The politics of preemption:

"America is at war," is how the White House's newly-released 48-page national security strategy opens.

ABC News' Ann Compton reports that President Bush proceeds to describe what he calls the path of confidence as the US encourages democracy around the world. He calls the War on Terrorism a battle of arms and a battle of ideas.

In addressing threats, President Bush declares the US will, if necessary, act pre-emptively . . . in self defense, adding "we may face no greater challenge from any single country than from Iran."

The New York Times' David Sanger picks up on the identification of Iran as the greatest threat and Notes that the strategy "gives no ground on the decision to order a pre-emptive attack on Iraq in 2003." LINK

Sanger also Notes the somewhat tougher stance towards China and Russia.

The Washington Post's Peter Baker reports that the White House's new strategy document is strikingly similar to the document released in 2002 and "offers no second thoughts about the preemption policy" while placing a "greater emphasis on working with allies." LINK

Sen. Feingold calls for censuring President Bush:

Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) said he won't rule out voting to censure President Bush, the Providence Journal reports. LINK

David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times explores how the censure and impeachment movements afoot energize the Republican base. LINK

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) has become the first co-sponsor of Sen. Feingold's censure resolution, reports Roll Call's Erin Billings.

With a provocative "Russ Feingold is a traitor" subject line, Howard Dean sent an email to DNC supporters yesterday in which he defended Sen. Feingold's freedom to speak out without endorsing Feingold's call for censure.

Big Casino budget politics:

The New York Times' Hulse looks at the immense amount of talk about fiscal discipline on the Hill -- and the very little action. LINK

Note, too, how Majority Leader Boehner's quotable nature may go down as one of journalists' favorite developments of the second session of the 109th Congress.

Peggy Noonan's column asks President Bush the following question: "Were you always a liberal on spending?" LINK

Explains Noonan, "I believe it is fair to say most Republicans did not think George W. Bush was motivated to run for the presidency for the primary reason of cutting or controlling spending. But it is also fair to say that they did not think he was Lyndon B. Johnson. And that's what he's turned into."

Yesterday's vote in the House that cleared the way for the passage of a $91.8 billion Iraq-Katrina appropriations bill brought the divisions among House Republicans on spending to the fore, reports the Wall Street Journal's David Rogers.

Republicans in the Senate are more united on spending, writes the Journal's prolific Rogers. Take Note of this line: "Republicans admit they are more cautious this election year in trying to use the budget process to effect change in spending or tax policy."

Per Bloomberg, the President's use of the "emergency" designation on appropriations is garnering "frustration" among many in Congress, including Republicans. LINK

Bush Administration agenda:

Just minutes after he was nominated, Sens. Clinton and Patty Murray (D-WA) announced yesterday they will not allow a vote on Andrew C. von Eschenbach's appointment to be a permanent commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration until the FDA acts on a proposal to make Plan B available without a prescription -- this after the Senators felt they were previously "double-crossed" on the issue. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Peter Wallsten writes up a fascinating, and unlikely conversation on nuclear nonproliferation that happened at the President's Medicare event yesterday. LINK

The Washington Post on the President's insistence on not extending the Medicare prescription drug signup period: LINK

But the Los Angeles Times recaps the Senate inching towards a possible change. LINK

George Will finds another reason to disagree with the White House in his column -- today, the issue is the line item veto, whose "primary effect might be political, and inimical to a core conservative value," Will writes. LINK

GOP agenda:

Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times previews how a GOP-backed bill just out of committee might change the way health insurance is sold. LINK

The Fitzgerald investigation:

Subpoenas have been issued to reporters from the New York Times, NBC News, and Time Magazine in the Libby case, reports the New York Times' Liptak. LINK

Uber-attorney Bob Bennett, representing Judith Miller, tells the Times he expects to fight the scope of the subpoena she received.

Politics of Iraq:

The Washington Post's David Ignatius, in Baghdad, has the best news for President Bush in any of the morning's papers: "There are unmistakable signs," Ignatius writes, "Iraq's political leaders are taking the first tentative steps toward forming a broad government of national unity that could reverse the country's downward slide." LINK

David Brooks, in the New York Times, on the other hand, is scathing re: Rummy. LINK

David Broder in the Washington Post on the President's continued, but still unsuccessful, efforts to resolve public doubts about the war in Iraq: LINK

USA Today's Andrea Stone takes a look at those codels to Iraq: who's going, who's not and what they're worth (both in dollars and sense). LINK

Katherine Harris:

Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) announced on FNC's "Hannity & Colmes" yesterday that she plans to pour $10 million of her own money into the Florida Senate race.

The New York Times' Goodnough Notes that even if Rep. Harris spends her inheritance on the race, her husband owns a company worth up to $25 million. LINK

"Political observers suggest her impassioned declaration that she's in the race to win may do little to quell the doubts about her candidacy, given her anemic fundraising and volatile staffing. Just hours before Harris' appearance on Fox, Anne Dunsmore, who had come aboard as Harris' national fundraising director in December, left the campaign," write the Miami Herald's Clark and Reinhard. LINK

More from the Miami Herald duo: "'To beat an incumbent who's not in obvious trouble you need three things,' said Mac Stipanovich, a Republican strategist and unpaid advisor to Harris during the 2000 recount. 'You need to be financially competitive, a campaign staff that if not flawless is very good, and some luck. Till now she hasn't had any of the three.'"

Tamara Lytle of the Orlando Sentinel writes that "political analysts had differing views Wednesday about whether an infusion of her own wealth would change the dynamics of the race," having pollster Jim Kane saying that he is "convinced her campaign is mortally wounded," and political consultant David Johnson saying that "Money begets money. If she's willing to make that investment, people will say, 'OK, I'll invest in her.'" LINK

Anita Kumar and Adam Smith of the St. Petersburg Times have Republican consultant Rick Wilson, who has previously worked for Harris, reacting to the announcement: "She's like the sorority girl in college who's always got the boyfriend drama." LINK

In her Fox appearance, Harris did not on her own attempt to bring up any actual issues, except she seems to have a "message of a vision" (or she might have said a "vision of a message"). When asked the single non-process question that Sean posed, she mentioned transportation spending and values as two of the issues that separate her from Bill Nelson.


Fred Dicker follows his New York Post reporting on KT McFarland's voting record with her explanation that "the realities of family life" thwarted her best intentions. LINK

"McFarland's primary opponent, former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer, branded her claim 'bizarre,' insisting, 'Most people have families, so I guess we'd have no one voting in this country by her standards.'"

Dicker also calls Jeanine Pirro out for erroneously claiming New York shares a border with Ohio. LINK

Eliot Spitzer's lawsuit against H&R Block got him live coverage on CNN yesterday. We wonder if Kim Devlin has already called demanding equal time. Here's the New York Times' coverage of Spitzer's suit: LINK

Texas Democratic Chris Bell's path to the governor's mansion got a little rockier yesterday as 2002 Democratic candidate Tony Sanchez announced he would support independent Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, reports the Houston Chronicle's R.G. Ratcliffe. LINK

In an email to reporters summing up the top ten reasons why he thinks the GOP is having a "horrible, no good, very bad day," the DCCC's Bill Burton goes all Stuart Smiley with #7: "The President's own spokesman was forced to convince the American people yesterday that the White House has "a smart, capable and experienced team." [and doggone it, people like me?] LINK

"Long-suppressed tensions among House Republicans burst into full public view yesterday," writes Jonathan Allen of the Hill discussing yesterday's vote on the rules for floor debate on the Iraq spending bill, which divided fiscal conservatives and the leadership. LINK

Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH), facing a tough election against Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), breaks ranks with Republicans on his own and votes with the Democrats on several health amendments, writes Carrie Sheffield of the Hill. LINK

In an interview with Charles Hurt of the Washington Times, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) says congressional GOPers will have a hard time enacting major spending cuts or comprehensive immigration reform. LINK

2008: Republicans:

The Boston Globe's Joan Vennochi writes that on the national stage, Gov. Romney plays like Theodore Cleaver, "the adorable, wholesome boy played by Jerry Mathers in 'Leave it to Beaver,' the iconic sit-com of the 1950s. But back at home, it's not 'The Beaver' in the governor's office. It's Eddie Haskell, the neighborhood operator who was all talk and unctuous attitude." LINK

The AP reports that Gov. Romney is being denounced by gay-rights advocates over legislation the presidential hopeful is pushing that would exempt religious social services agencies from being required to place some adoptive children in same-sex households. LINK

Michelle Mittelstadt of the Dallas Morning News reports Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is pushing for an immigration bill on the Senate floor by March 27, much to the ire of Senator from both parties who want more time to balance national security and economic interests. LINK

The San Francisco Chronicle's Carolyn Lochhead also picks up on the push for a quick vote. LINK

In an editorial as scathing as it is unfunny, the Washington Post ed board says: Maybe there are two Bill Frists -- Memphis Bill, who just hates that runaway entitlement spending, and Washington Bill, who presided over Senate passage of the biggest entitlement spending hike in decades. LINK

"When talks on how to rebuild the World Trade Center site foundered Tuesday night without an agreement, it was more bad news for Gov. George E. Pataki. The governor has made the rebuilding of the site a legacy issue, only to see construction there stymied by delay after delay as his final term in office winds down," writes Michael Cooper of the New York Times. LINK

The New York Post editorial page issues a scathing rebuke of Gov. Pataki and his agenda to rebuild lower Manhattan. LINK

"Let's be clear: There is scarcely a problem Downtown - big, small or in-between - that isn't directly traceable to the governor's attention-deficit disorder regarding the site of the deadliest attack on United States soil since Pearl Harbor."'s Chris Cillizza offers an upside review of Rudy Giuliani's non-campaign campaign for the Republican nomination in '08, taking Note of Giuliani's advantages over the rest of the field in fundraising and homeland security prowess. LINK

Giuliani was named yesterday to a bipartisan panel headed by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-IN) to examine the nation's involvement in the war in Iraq, Newsday reports.


2008: Democrats:

Sen. Clinton joined Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) in stalling Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach's nomination as FDA commissioner until the agency comes to a decision about the over-the-counter distribution of Plan B morning-after contraceptives, per Newsday's Glenn Thrush. LINK

Former Vice President Al Gore received his first congressional meta-endorsement for a 2008 presidential run yesterday from Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-VA), reports the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza. LINK

"The photo made Warner - the former Virginia governor - look cartoonish with a sallow and saturnine look featuring huge white teeth, a maroon velours jacket and a lavender shirt," writes the New York Post's Deborah Orin in her coverage of the New York Times correction. LINK

Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) visits the Granite State on Saturday and said, "I've instructed my people on the (DNC calendar) commission and any support I have on that commission to support New Hampshire." LINK

Rick Klein of the Boston Globe on Sen. Kerry slamming the ex-Big Dig boss who has been tapped by President Bush to run the Federal Highway Commission. LINK

"This nomination adds insult to incompetence. I have a bad feeling that Richard Capka could be to highways what George Tenet is to slam dunk intelligence, what Dick Cheney is to visionary energy policy, and what Donald Rumsfeld is to prewar planning.'"

More from the Boston Herald: LINK

The Note doesn't usually cover UN reform, but when the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal writes that the Bush Administration "has borrowed from John Kerry's playbook" it's worth Noting. LINK

The Boston Globe reports that Senator Kennedy will meet with IRA head Gerry Adams in the hopes of solving a murder mystery. LINK

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) plans to introduce legislation that would ban protest at funerals of soldiers who died while on active duty, reports the AP. LINK

2012: Democrats:

Margaret Carlson of Bloomberg sings the praises of Sen. Obama's unusual "likability." LINK

"After John Kerry and Al Gore, and facing the prospect of Hillary Clinton, one of the most polarizing figures in public life, the Democrats may decide to put likeability (and brains) ahead of experience and age. If so, they need look no further than the senator from Illinois."

Politics of Katrina:

Sens. Lieberman and Collins -- usually a beacon of bipartisan bonhomie -- are split over the Connecticut Democrat's request for access to White House documents and aides as a part of their committee's Katrina investigation. LINK

New Hampshire:

In response to Donna Brazile's call to get rid of the current "privileged" nomination system, Secretary of State Bill Gardner vowed he would, "use his statutory authority to move the primary date ahead of newly placed states to preserve its tradition," Notes the Union Leader's John DiStaso. LINK

Lobbying reform:

The Washington Post's Birnbaum and Weisman are the only ones to hit on the right lead on the day's lobbying reformm recaps, with an emphasis on the 527 provision. LINK

Per the Wall Street Journal, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-CA) were forced yesterday to confront their "party's old bulls over a set of new ethics and lobbying-disclosure rules in response to recent bribery and political-influence scandals" -- in a move that "demonstrated a communication gap" among the Republican caucus "that dismayed even those who share Mr. Hastert's sense of urgency."

Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times also writes of dissension in the GOP ranks over the temporary private travel ban in the leadership's proposed lobbying reform legislation. LINK

The Hill's Alexander Bolton reports that it is rush hour on the Hill today, as the deadline to submit the 10 allowed earmarks nears. LINK

Bennett Roth of the Houston Chronicle on lobbying reform: LINK

Campaign finance reform:

Per The Hill's Elana Schor, Sens. Ron Wyden and Lindsey Graham are unveiling a bill today that would change Senate rules to limit campaign fundraising by incumbents without amending the Constitution. LINK

The House will vote today on how the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill applies to Internet blogs, ads, and other types of political speech online, writes Elana Schor of The Hill. LINK

Politics of energy:

New legislation restricting oil-company mergers is "gaining support among Senate Judiciary Committee members," reports the Wall Street Journal. LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

Governor Schwarzenegger's ambitious public works project will have to wait at least until November, reports the Los Angeles Times. The California Senate declined to act on the borrowing plan, pushing further negotiations until the next ballot. LINK

Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle looks at how the gubernatorial primary race is heating up in California as Phil Angelides' (D-CA) fundraising past comes to light. LINK

Politics of immigration:

The New York Times looks at the influence the Irish immigrant lobby hopes to have on comprehensive immigration reform legislation. LINK

Judicial politics:

Remember when the showdown over judicial nominees nearly brought Washington to a standstill? Bob Novak does too, and he misses it. LINK


In one of today's near-must-reads, Peter Savodnik and Andrew Barr of the Hill write that there is no kiss-and-make-up for Tom DeLay (R-TX) and his primary opponents, especially after DeLay's victory statement that accused the defeated Republicans of "mimicking Democrat attacks and Democrat talking points." LINK

Be sure to read the defeated Republican opponents' comments, which include challenger Michael Fjetland saying: "I cannot endorse any felon."


NRCC "dissed" by Daisy Duke, writes Roll Call's always-sassy Mary Ann Akers.

Jessica Simpson declined an invitation to attend tonight's NRCC fundraising gala "even after she was offered some private face time with the president," reports Reuters. LINK