The Note: Commander, Rebel, Optimist, Fundraiser


Those in the television business love few things as much as they love anniversaries. Anniversaries are events for which special graphics packages can be planned and created. And they provide a very easy narrative frame for a story that it is often difficult to tell.

Well aware of that dynamic, President Bush will create the political centerpiece of the day when travels to Cleveland, OH for a 12:25 pm ET speech on the "Global War on Terror" timed to the third anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. (Mr. Bush also meets with the Secretary General of NATO in the Oval Office at 9:30 am ET.)

ABC's Jessica Yellin and Jonathan Karl report that President Bush, in his remarks today, is expected to explain why he's optimistic about Iraq. He's expected to discuss why he is certain things will get better, according to a Senior Administration Official.

The President will also talk about the city of Tal Afar. "President Bush will explain there were terrorists living in Tal Afar and it was so bad a little boy who lived there had to participate in terrorism. But Americans and Iraqis worked together to make it safe for the Iraqis. In the White House's view -- Tal Afar is a case study of how 'clear, hold, and build' works," writes Yellin.

A Senior Administration Official tells Yellin that "the Administration understands people's confidence is shaken and the President's optimism might seem out of place. But with this speech the President says 'let me tell you why I'm so positive.'"

President Bush is expected to take questions from the audience at the conclusion of his speech -- which will likely make the New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller happy. LINK

Based on "classified briefings for friendly diplomats and visiting foreign officials," Jim Hoagland writes in a must-read Washington Post column that US troops will be "moving out of Iraq's streets and then out of Iraq's cities by the end of this year as part of a coordinated drawing down and concentration of all foreign forces. Troops from Italy and other nations will leave the country, and a reduced British force will redeploy into a smaller area of operational responsibility." LINK

On Friday, Gen. Chiarelli announced a new goal of turning over 75 percent of Iraq to Iraqi security forces. Hoagland seems to suggest a further goal that US troops will be out of all the cities by the end of the year.

Sen. Biden (D-DE) marks the third anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom with an 11:00 am ET press conference with John Podesta on the topic.

The "National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance" marks the three year anniversary of the Iraq war with a 9:00 am ET rally near the Lincoln Memorial and a march across Memorial Bridge to the Pentagon. The group plans to include a "die-in" outside the Pentagon and is expected to attempt to deliver a coffin to Secretary Rumsfeld.

Vice President Cheney will also be in the Buckeye State today to help raise funds for congressional candidate Chuck Blasdel, the Republican state representative hoping to succeed Rep. Ted Strickland (D-OH) in representing Ohio's sixth congressional district in the US House of Representatives. OH-06 is widely seen as a potential pick-up opportunity for the GOP this cycle and listen carefully to hear if the Vice President references Charlie Wilson's (the favored candidate for the Democrats who is running as a write-in) failure to secure a spot on the primary ballot. (This story from the Youngstown Vindicator on Saturday will likely not get mentioned: LINK)

From Rep. Strickland's Web site: "The sixth district is the State's longest Congressional district, spanning the eastern border of Ohio from Lucasville to the suburbs of Youngstown." Here are some more fun facts: LINK

This evening, Vice President Cheney speaks at a fundraising reception for Tom Kean, Jr. in Newark, NJ. Quinnipiac University's well-timed poll released this morning shows Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) with a slight lead against Kean, 40 to 36 percent. Kean has a slight edge among the all-important independent voters, but 26 percent of Kean's support is due to affinity for his father -- a number some see as likely decrease as the campaign continues. LINK

Before dedicating your entire day to Iraq, there are several 2006 must-reads out there for you to read today -- all looking in one way or another at the question of how the majority party plans to stay in power.

1. In the current issue of the Weekly Standard, Fred Barnes delivers a must-read on Republican Party efforts to make 2006 a "choice" election rather than a "referendum" election. LINK

Other than the usual highlighting of Democratic votes on bills such as the Patriot Act and tax cuts, the GOP will attempt to schedule some votes on controversial social issues that may help drive the party's base to the polls in November, reports Barnes.

"This spring and summer, Republican leaders in the Senate and House plan to bring up a series of issues that are popular with the Republican base of voters. The aim is to stir conservative voters and spur turnout in the November election. Just last week, House Majority Leader John Boehner and Whip Roy Blunt met with leaders of conservative groups to talk about these issues."

"House Republicans, for their part, intend to seek votes on measures such as the Bush-backed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, a bill allowing more public expression of religion, another requiring parental consent for women under 18 to get an abortion, legislation to bar all federal courts except the Supreme Court from ruling on the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance, a bill to outlaw human cloning, and another that would require doctors to consider fetal pain before performing an abortion."

2. Dan Balz and Jonathan Weisman write in today's Washington Post that Republican efforts to craft a policy and political agenda to carry the party into the midterm elections have "stumbled repeatedly" as GOP leaders face "widespread disaffection and disagreement within the ranks." LINK

3. Newsweek's Wolffe and Bailey on the seemingly disunited Republican Party: LINK

4. Peter Wallsten and James Gerstenzang reported in Sunday's Los Angeles Times that some GOPers are saying that the White House has failed to formulate a clear domestic policy and the Bush Administration is suffering because of it. LINK

5. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Fred Barnes advises President Bush to rejuvenate his presidency with a sweeping overhaul of his Administration. Barnes suggests making Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice vice president, making Dick Cheney secretary of defense, making Joe Lieberman secretary of state, making Glenn Hubbard secretary of the treasury, making Dan Senor (or Dan Bartlett) the new White House press secretary, making Al Hubbard chief of staff, making Kevin Hassert the top White House economic adviser, making Karl Rove chairman of the RNC, and making Ken Mehlman communications chief at the White House. (Note to F"TB"B: Your must-read above notwithstanding, was this piece meant to run on April 1? The Hubbard gambit is a silver-bullet stroke of genius, but, uhm, there are some other problems with this plan.)

6. Bob Novak invokes the history of Truman in 1952 in columnizing on the dangers of the "trial separation" underway between congressional Republicans and the President. LINK

(Note to Bob: get back to us when Democrats start doing morph ads.)

7. "Republican House leaders, aware that incumbents rarely lose, are struggling to prevent a wave of retirements that would bolster Democratic prospects to regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the November elections," writes Bloomberg News' Laura Litvan. LINK

8. Finally, Paul Krugman's fabulously expensive New York Times column is an ultimate must read. If no one successfully challenges it (and it seems right to us), this piece is one of the most important Big Casino works of the entire Bush Administration, with Krugman lining up with the White House on spending issues (and parting on tax ones). LINK This is a brilliant piece of work -- again, if true.

In non-Iraq items:

The Supreme Court meets this morning to consider arguments and issue orders at 10:00 am ET. The Court is expected to consider the cases of Davis v. Washington and Hammon v. Indiana, which explore whether accusers in criminal cases should be required to take the stand, a challenge to the Sixth Amendment. ABC's Manny Medrano also Notes that we may also learn if the Court has decided to hear the Padilla case.

The International Association of Fire Fighters gathers in Washington, DC for its legislative conference. Today's high-profile speakers include: White House Chief of Staff Andy Card, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, DNC Chairman Howard Dean, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), and Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM).

Sen. Joe Biden is scheduled to speak at the county Democratic convention in Spartanburg, SC. The Terry Nelson-advised Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) joins Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) for a California GOP fundraiser in Beverly Hills, CA. The Baltimore Sun has more: LINK

Beginning at 1:00 pm ET, California First Lady Maria Shriver will participate in the California Senate and Assembly "Women of the Year" ceremonies and deliver remarks to each chamber separately.

And the annual arrival of the Ringling Brothers elephants in Washington, DC is scheduled for today, which always makes for fun pictures and far too easy political metaphors.

See below for our look at the political events for the week ahead.

Politics of Iraq:

Sabrina Eaton of the Cleveland Plain Dealer curtain raises President Bush's speech today in Cleveland stating that the address is part of a month-long effort to "shore up enthusiasm for both the lingering war and the [President's] leadership," and comes as the President's approval ratings "hit record lows and polls show increased displeasure with [the] war." LINK

Michael Fletcher writes on the Washington Post's front page that Sunday's "upbeat" appraisals by Bush and Cheney of the situation in Iraq came as other voices "struck a more ominous note." LINK

In Sunday's Washington Post, George F. Will wrote that the President should "emphasize the dangers of failure and de-emphasize talk about Iraq's becoming a democracy that ignites emulative transformation in the Middle East." LINK

The New York Times' Sanger and Shanker lead the paper marking the anniversary with a wrap of the Administration's Sunday messaging offensive. LINK

Displaying a carefully calibrated mix of optimism about eventual victory and caution about how long American troops would be involved, the officials who marked the day -- including Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld -- sounded much as they had on the first anniversary of the invasion."

USA Today's John Diamond wraps the Sunday anniversary talk: LINK

Gov. Richardson, Gov. Romney, and Gen. Clark were in New Hampshire over the weekend. All three of them agreed Saturday that "there's no easy way out of Iraq." But the AP's Anne Saunders reports that they took "widely different approaches to the challenge." LINK

Note to lefty bloggers: if you haven't written about Gen. Casey's eye movements during his "Meet" interview, we suggest you get the tape.

In his look back on the Iraq war three years after it began, Time Magazine's Joe Klein writes that the US effort in Iraq has been a "deadly combination of utopian fantasy and near criminal incompetence." LINK

Klein concludes by writing that the President "won't admit it" but the "only plausible reason for remaining in Iraq is to prevent an even greater catastrophe."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's op-ed in Sunday's Washington Post got widespread attention on the Sunday morning gabfests. LINK

"Turning our backs on postwar Iraq today," wrote Secretary Rumsfeld, "would be the modern equivalent of handing postwar Germany back to the Nazis."

The economy:

The Wall Street Journal reports that Treasury Secretary Snow said most Americans are benefiting from economic expansion and that a widening wage gap reflects "the market's efficiency in rewarding more-productive workers."

"Mr. Snow distributed a fact sheet that showed after-tax income, adjusted for inflation, rose 8.2% from January 2001 . . . through January 2006."

"Mr. Snow's case relies on averages, which can be skewed by big gains among the wealthiest. Other data suggest the typical family has seen little advance in income or net worth since Mr. Bush took office."

Note the Journal reporter uses other stats that don't quite jibe.

And, most of all, Note the Secretary's explicit political framing, as if he had just come from a meeting at the White House (or on Capitol Hill).

Bush Administration agenda:

Vice President Cheney dismissed reports that he will resign and be replaced by a 2008 hopeful in yesterday's interview on "Face the Nation," reports the Washington Times. LINK

Reuter's Andy Sullivan writes that the White House's aim to spend $15 million on drug-testing grants in the next fiscal year would involve sampling students involved in extracurricular activities in an effort to keep them away from it. Critics point out drug-testing would undermine trust and students' right to privacy. This sounds all too familiar. LINK

GOP agenda:

United Parcel Service International, the largest corporate giver to federal elections for over a decade, wants Congress to allow employers to cut pension benefits already promised to some workers, writes Bloomberg News' Jonathan D. Salant and Jay Newton-Small. LINK

Lobbying reform:

"Though Congress may ultimately vote to eliminate a few of the more visible trappings of special pleading, such as gifts, free meals and luxurious trips," the Washington Post's Jeffrey Birnbaum reported on Sunday that lobbyists say they have "already found scores of new ways to buy the attention of lawmakers through fundraising, charitable activities and industry-sponsored seminars." LINK


John Chase and Rick Pearson of the Chicago Tribune offer gubernatorial candidates a chance to explain for themselves why voters should turn to them, and include Judy Baar Topinka (R-IL) saying that "a key reason she should be chosen as the Republican nominee over three major rivals is that she can defeat Blagojevich in the November general election." LINK

The Chicago Tribune's editorial board reminded readers of its Gidwitz endorsement yesterday. LINK

Ofelia Casillas and Carlos Sadovi of the Chicago Tribune detail the gubernatorial candidates' last minute preparations for the Tuesday primary, which include "increasingly strident rhetoric against their opponents and against incumbent Gov. Rod Blagojevich" and "the Sunday-before-Election-Day ritual of visiting churches." LINK

Jonathan Alter of Newsweek writes that Rahm Emanuel's "tough-guy-with-a-twinkle discipline" might be exactly what the Democratic Party needs, though the DCCC Chairman now frets about potential Democratic over-confidence. LINK

Democrats pledged to make Social Security a "major campaign issue" this year, after a Social Security amendment to the budget bill last week was narrowly defeated in the Senate, writes the Washington Times' Amy Fagan. LINK

If they stay on pace, House members will spend only 97 days in session, the fewest in over 50 years, reports USA Today's Kathy Kiely. LINK

Adam Smith of the St. Petersburg Times writes that "it's time to take off the rose-tinted glasses" and see that, "crazy as it sounds in a state so thoroughly dominated by the GOP, there are signs of big trouble brewing for the party of no-longer-in-control-Jeb." LINK

Jonathan Darman of Newsweek takes the NRSC to task for launching the Web site against Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. (D-TN). LINK

Pat Healy of the New York Times writes that the Empire State GOP is hoping Tom Suozzi's candidacy bloodies up Democratic frontrunner Eliot Spitzer. LINK

The New York Post's Fred Dicker continues to pore through KT McFarland's voting records and reports that she failed to vote in the 1984 presidential election while working in the Reagan Administration. LINK

Note that Beth Fouhy of the AP has Ed Rollins of the McFarland campaign dissing John Spencer majorly.

Roll Call's Stu Rothenberg writes that the "Democratic wave" in New York has a shot at picking up some GOP congressional seats.

The San Diego Union-Tribune's Dean Calbreath reported over the weekend that Rep. John Doolittle's (R-CA) "received a direct monetary benefit from" contributions made to his political action committee through "commissions paid to his wife, Julie." LINK

2008: Republicans:

Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times picks up on Sen. Hagel coming down closer to Allawi than to the Administration on the question of whether there is a civil war taking place in Iraq. LINK

"'I think . . . the former prime minister is correct,' Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on 'This Week.' I think we have had a low-grade civil war going on in Iraq, certainly the last six months, maybe the last year. Our own generals have told me that privately.'"

Greg Pierce of the Washington Times Notes the important addition of Terry Nelson, political director of the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign, to Sen. McCain's PAC. LINK

In Iowa last Friday Sen. George Allen (R-VA) felt "liberated" from the "goofy place" that is Washington D.C. and Noted that he "just wanted to make it clear to all of you all that [he] wanted to be born in Iowa," wrote Thomas Beaumont in the Saturday Des Moines Register. LINK

Tyler Whitley of the Richmond Times-Dispatch also details Sen. Allen's first visit of the cycle to Iowa, and includes the Senator saying that "personally, all my time is going to be in Virginia." LINK

In the Sunday Union Leader, Garry Rayon wrote up Gov. Mitt Romney's (R-MA) crisscrossing through New Hampshire. LINK

Massachusetts Democrats gleefully grilled Gov. Romney yesterday at Boston's infamous political roast, colorfully writes Boston Globe's Scott Helman. Romney, who "gave as good as he got," was subjected to lighthearted criticism of his alleged failures as governor. LINK

Boston Globe's Robert Preer Noted over the weekend that according to a Republican state lawmaker, Gov. Romney's goal to rebuild the state Republican party a couple years ago now seems to be pushed back by Romney's presidential aspirations. "Obviously he's preoccupied," the lawmaker said. LINK

Fred Dicker of the New York Post all but declares the end to the Pataki Administration in Albany. LINK

2008: Democrats:

In an event that "certainly had the feel of a campaign rally" in Ankeny, IA last weekend, former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) "earned his biggest cheer with this assessment of President Bush: 'This is the worst president of my lifetime,'" writes Ken Fuson in the Sunday Des Moines Register. LINK

Josh Nelson of the Ames Tribune on Sen. Edwards' visit to Story City, IA. LINK

Yesterday in New Hampshire Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) said that he has nothing against a caucus between Iowa and New Hampshire and expressed his optimism about the 2006 elections stating that "I know this year will be a Democratic year, and we'll have a Democratic wave. We'll add seats in the House and the Senate," writes Benjamin Kepple of the Union Leader. LINK

"Congressional Democrats say Sen. Russell D. Feingold's move to censure President Bush for authorizing warrantless surveillance is a distraction from their quest to take back Congress in the fall," writes Washington Times' Christina Bellantoni. LINK

While establishment Democrats ran away from Sen. Feingold's call for censure last week, Hendrik Hertzberg reports for the New Yorker's "Talk of the Town" that the "left-populist" blogosphere "erupted with praise for Feingold and contempt for his cautious Party colleagues." Hertzberg argues that there is "very little doubt that Bush deserves censure" and concedes that the move established a "beachhead" for Feingold's fledgling presidential campaign. But Herzberg thinks Feingold has succeeded mainly in "deflecting the anger of a good many Democrats from Bush to the Democrats."

Keying off of votes Feingold has cast in favor of confirming Chief Justice John Roberts and Attorney General John Ashcroft and in favor of hearing the evidence pertaining to Clinton's impeachment, Maura Reynolds had some Democratic observers saying in Sunday's Los Angeles Times that there might be more McCain than Dean in Feingold. LINK

The Washington Post's Al Kamen reports that Jeffrey Volk, a New York international banker and lifelong conservative who once worked in the Nixon White House for Pat Buchanan and who helped draft Reagan's economic platform in 1980, raised nearly $100,000 for Sen. Clinton's re-election campaign in December and says he "probably would" support her if she ran for president. Volk was in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit. He called the White House but was sent to voice mail. He called FEMA and was sent to voice mail again. But he was able to get through to Dan Burton, a caseworker for Sen. Clinton based in New York, who checked on him two or three times a day. LINK

"I can't begin to tell you how much that meant to us in that hotel," Volk tells Kamen.

The Wall Street Journal's ed board raps "every potential 2008 Democratic presidential aspirant in the Senate, including Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Joe Biden," for voting against an amendment by GOP Senators Jim DeMint and Mike Crapo that would have deposited surplus payroll tax dollars in personalized Social Security bank accounts for each US worker.

Politics of Katrina:

The New York Times looks at Donald Powell's evolution on housing aid in Louisiana's recovery process. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' P.J. Huffstutter reports that Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D-LA) has turned to a former Republican rival -- Hunt Downer -- to rebuild bridges with the state legislature. LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

George Skelton of the Los Angeles Times writes that the "chief culprit" in Sacramento is "not a lollygagging legislature or an inept governor. It is a system structured for stalemate." LINK

Robert Salladay wrote in Sunday's Los Angeles Times that Schwarzenegger's campaign spending might prove costly for the governor. LINK

When Schwarzenegger needed television ads to promote his special election last year, he hired cinematographer Adam Greenberg, with whom he worked on two "Terminator" movies, "Collateral Damage," and "Junior."

Politics of energy:

Ron Brownstein took Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) to the woodshed in Sunday's Los Angeles Times for helping Senate Republicans expand drilling for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast.

"Greater offshore drilling would make sense," writes Brownstein, "in a grand bargain on energy that includes tougher fuel economy standards for vehicles and much greater support for renewable energy. But that bargain will never come if Democrats such as Bingaman give Republicans and the energy industry what they want without demanding anything in return." LINK


Investigation of Rep. Tom DeLay's potential ties to Jack Abramoff could drag on through the November election, reports Michael Hedges of the Houston Chronicle. LINK


Christopher Lee reports for the Washington Post's Federal Page that the Nixon presidential library, which has been the only presidential library operating entirely with private funds, is expected to join 11 other presidential libraries this summer in being operated by the National Archives. LINK

David Chen of the New York Times on Gov. Jon Corzine's (D-NJ) sweater vests: LINK

James Carville and Mary Matalin have signed up to do a new reality television show for "Lifetime" called "Election" in which they will counsel candidates for high school president. LINK

Carville tells Time: "The real trick with any 61-year-old dealing with any 16-year-old is to get them to listen to a word you say. I'm remarkably unsuccessful with my own"

The week ahead:

Illinoisans head to the polls to vote in tomorrow's primary.

President Bush will spend the bulk of his week talking about Iraq, the "Global War on Terror," spreading democracy around the world, and America's national security.

Tomorrow, President Bush welcomes Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the Oval Office. Then, the President and First Lady meet with non-governmental organizations from Iraq and Afghanistan. President Bush heads to Wheeling, WV on Wednesday to deliver remarks on the "Global War on Terror." On Friday, Mr. Bush will cap his week off with some fundraising for Mike Sodrel in Indiana and Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania.

Vice President Cheney will be in the Land of Lincoln on its primary day tomorrow. Mr. Cheney delivers remarks on Iraq and the GWOT at Scott Air Force Base.

To mark the third anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, Senate Democrats are planning a coordinated security push this week

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is holding the second day of a two day homeland security conference today. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) is doing veterans' events today and tomorrow. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is doing a veterans' event on Wednesday. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) holds a field hearing focused on veterans on Wednesday as well.

And Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will be focused on border security this week, according to one of his aides.

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) keynotes the Merrimack County Republican Lincoln Day dinner in Concord, NH tomorrow.

Also on Tuesday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) joins Republican Senate candidate and former Safeco Insurance executive Mike McGavick for a Washington State Republican Party fundraiser in Seattle, WA. Gen. Wesley Clark (D-AR) attends an Ohio Democratic Party fundraiser in Cincinnati, OH. And former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) speaks at Vanderbilt University's "Impact Symposium" in Nashville, TN.

On Thursday, Vice President Cheney attends a fundraiser for Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) in Tucson, AZ. RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman heads to the Badger State and is scheduled to attend fundraisers in Madison, Green Bay, and Spooner, WI.

Sen. George Allen (R-VA) headlines a fundraiser for Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) in Anderson County, SC on Friday.