WASHINGTON, Mar. 24
Good morning, and welcome to. . . The Note, brought to you by the Walt Disney Company and Disney Online, where the magic comes to you! LINK
Our top story today: President Bush is trying to convince a skeptical public and skittish members of Congress that he has a plan for winning the war in Iraq. Even some members of the President's own party not named "Hagel" -- worried about this fall's midterm elections and losing their majority power -- are becoming increasingly critical of the White House on a range of issues.
This at a time when Mr. Bush is burdened by some of the lowest poll numbers of his presidency and his clout on Capitol Hill is diminished. So Mr. Bush is in the midst of a sales job, barnstorming the country with campaign-style events, which mostly lead to stories on TV and in the papers about how Mr. Bush is in the midst of a sales job, barnstorming the country with campaign-style events. Experts say these events are good for "The Daily Show."
We have to take a break. When we come back, we'll have the latest on President Bush's efforts to win more Hispanic support. Stay with us.
Be sure to tune in on Sunday to "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" when Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) takes George on a helicopter tour of Glacier National Park -- what some consider to be the epicenter of the debate over global warming.
You can also catch "This Week All Week" on the web -- a streaming video experience featuring George with a preview of his Schweitzer talk. This week's webcast also includes a look at the ABC News Political Unit's inaugural installment of the 2008 Invisible Primary Ratings, with Mark Halperin and David Chalian. LINK
If you missed them yesterday, the full ratings can be read here: LINK
Welcome back to The Note. For some reason, reporters think that President Bush and other politicians who try to pass immigration legislation are motivated purely by political considerations, rather than a desire to solve an urgent and important public policy problem. Experts say it isn't clear why this is.
When we return after we pay some bills: they want to be President of the United States, and they know the true meaning of the words "hard work."
This weekend, if you are looking for the perfect family entertainment, Tim Allen is -- The Shaggy Dog!!! LINK
RAISE THE WOOF!!! Now playing at a theater near you.
President Bush and Vice President Cheney are hitting the 2006 campaign trail today. After marking Greek Independence Day at the White House, the President heads to Indianapolis, IN for a Mike Sodrel for Congress fundraiser (open to the press) and then to a private home in Sewickley Heights, PA for a fundraiser for Sen. Santorum's reelection bid (closed to the press).
In conjunction with his visit, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party (with some help from the DSCC, no doubt) launched this web video attempting to portray Sen. Santorum as a "rubber stamp" for the Bush Administration. LINK
Vice President Cheney travels from Arizona to Orlando, FL today for a fundraising luncheon for Rep. Ric Keller (R-FL). Later this afternoon, Mr. Cheney heads to Jacksonville, FL. LINK
Be sure to read the Tom Raum's AP story on Republican candidates eager to have the President and Vice President help fill their campaign coffers, but cautious about being seen with them. LINK
As for the men --- and woman -- who might want Mr. Bush's job:
Sen. Clinton will join Queens Borough President Helen Marshall in hosting her 6th annual African American Heritage Celebration in Corona, NY at 3:00 pm ET.
Sen. George Allen (R-VA) is scheduled to speak at a Ralph Norman fundraising luncheon in South Carolina at noon ET and then tour a hospital system in Florence, SC with Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). Later this evening, Sen. Allen plans to travel to New Hampshire where he will give a morning breakfast speech tomorrow at the Mountainview Grand Resort followed by a 1:30 pm ET appearance at the New Hampshire Republican Party gathering. Allen wraps up his weekend in Tennessee on Sunday at the Bristol Food City 500 NASCAR race -- serving as grand marshal.
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) has a packed Granite State schedule on Sunday. He plans to kick off his day in Portsmouth with Young Democrats and Mayor Steve Marchand. Later in the day he is scheduled to attend a campaign event for State Rep. Betsi Devries. Sen. Bayh's Sunday culminates with a featured appearance at the Franklin/Hill Spaghetti Dinner honoring Jim Ryan and Peter Burling.
You gotta love spaghetti over rubber chicken!!
On C-SPAN's "Road to the White House" on Sunday you can catch Gov. Richardson's (D-NM) and Sen. Hagel's (R-NE) recent forays into New Hampshire.
And remember to keep an eye on that New Hampshire Republican gathering and how the new chairman will be perceived vis a vis the 2008 Republican field.
It's time for a break. When we come back, we'll tell you about what else is going on politics today. Stay tuned.
This Sunday night -- have the ladies of Wisteria Lane got a surprise for you!!! On "Desperate Housewives," Susan invites Dr. Ron to meet Karl after he finds out about their arranged marriage; Eva and Carlos try to find a baby to adopt; and in order to combat Andrew's extortion attempt, Bree joins AA. LINK
That's "Desperate Housewives" Sunday night at 9 Eastern, 10 Central, 9 Pacific, and whenever in the Mountain zone.
Then after that: an encore presentation of a very special "Grey's Anatomy" -- the hottest show on television. LINK
And finally, what else is going on out there, you wonder?
Gov. Sanford (R-SC) files for reelection at 3:30 pm ET in Lexington, SC.
John Podesta's Center for American Progress holds a day-long panel on tax reform featuring the likes of Gene Sperling, Peter Orszag, and others.
That's it for today's Note news summary. We will be back next week with a full look at all the political news, including live reports from the annual Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner. Until then, for everyone here at The Note, have a great weekend.
Politics of immigration:
While invoking Sen. Clinton's reference to criminalizing Jesus, Rep. Tom Tancredo's (R-CO) bombast, Sen. Frist's threat to bypass Sen. Specter's Judiciary panel, and Sen. McCain's embrace of the President, the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman and Jim VandeHei turn in their take on how the immigration debate is shaped by the 2008 election. LINK
"Frist has not ruled out a guest-worker program. But conservatives' grumbling about the president's program found a Senate voice yesterday when Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) announced that he will not accept such a program until 'we have proven without a doubt that our borders are sealed and secure.'"
Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times tees up the immigration debate through the White House lens by looking at -- you guessed it -- the President's political dilemma caused by the issue. LINK
"He has lost control of his own party on the issue, as many Republicans object to his call for a temporary guest-worker program, insisting instead that the focus be on shutting down the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico. It is not clear how much help he will get from Democrats in an election year. . . "
". . . In short, Mr. Bush is facing another test of his remaining powers as president." President Bush's call for debate "in a civil way" has been viewed by "groups on both sides of the debate" as pointed "at those who want better enforcement and oppose a guest-worker plan," write Charles Hurt and Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times LINK
Patriot Act politics:
The Boston Globe's Charlie Savage picks up on a "signing statement" that accompanied President Bush's approval of the Patriot Act renewal. LINK
"In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would, 'impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties.'"
What is it with the Boston Globe actually paying attention to these signing statements??!!??
Over to you, Sen. Feingold.
Politics of abortion:
Forget about that long road to the United States Supreme Court. The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports that an effort may be announced today by an abortion rights group in South Dakota to gather the 16,000-plus signatures needed to get the recently signed South Dakota abortion ban law on the ballot for South Dakota voters to approve or reject this November. LINK
The message coming out of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-SC) trip to China is that the Chinese must revalue their currency or face a hefty 27.5% tariff on imports to America, writes Calum MacLeod of USA Today. LINK
Bush Administration and agenda:
Keying off of a recent complaint filed by the Alliance for School Choice, the Wall Street Journal's ed board raps Education Secretary Margaret Spellings for handing out exemptions or looking the other way instead of enforcing the provisions of No Child Left Behind which are supposed to give students at failing schools the option to attend better schools within the district.
"A Government Accountability Office report from 2004 found that some three million children in 5,300 schools nationwide were eligible for choice under NCLB, but only about 1% were exercising the option."
While China views Hu Jintao's April 20 visit to Washington, DC as a "state visit," the White House views it as just a "visit" and instead of having a state dinner, the Chinese and US presidents will just have lunch, reports Bloomberg's Janine Zacharia. LINK
"The protocol dispute, more than a matter of simple semantics, reflects the tensions between the U.S. and China on a range of economic and foreign policy matters and also the expectation from White House officials that they won't achieve much during Hu's time in Washington."
The New York Times' Bumiller writes up the The Smoking Gun's posting of the Cheney travel rider. Note how the Timeswoman fails to include the Washington Post as part of the requested reading material. LINK
Politics of Iraq:
In a story complete with a dot drawing of Doug Feith, Wendy Morigi -- a spokeswoman for Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) -- tells the Wall Street Journal that the role of the former Undersecretary of Defense in the lead-up to the Iraq war is an "area of concern."
The debate over whether political appointees at the Pentagon "deliberately distorted intelligence and subverted analysis" by the CIA to "gin up support" for the invasion of Iraq is going to heat up next week when Republicans controlling the congressional investigation say they will finish a "spate of reports" on how the White House used pre-war intelligence.
"Even as military planners look to withdraw significant numbers of American troops from Iraq in the coming year, the Bush administration continues to request hundreds of millions of dollars for large bases there, raising concerns over whether they are intended as permanent sites for U.S. forces," writes Peter Spiegel of the Los Angeles Times. LINK
Whaddya mean is it a civil war? "Of course it's a civil war," writes the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer. LINK
Politics of national security:
Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center writes a majority of Americans are not interested in the United States turning its back on the rest of the world, but there is a "growing wariness." LINK
"America's current mood is less a rejection of the rest of the world than it is a deep concern about terrorism and a growing wariness about America's own assertive foreign policy."
Politics of propaganda:
In an interview with the Associated Press while in Ankara, Turkey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace said the Pentagon should review its programs and "reveal when it pays foreign journalists for favorable news," reports the AP. LINK
Mickey Kaus on Dr./Sen./Leader Frist and immigration. LINK
Bossy Scot Lehigh raises the specter of Gov. Romney's father as he wonders what action Romney will take on a healthcare bill soon to hit his desk. Lehigh frames the choice for the Governor as one between many of his stated legislative goals on the one side and Grover Norquist on the other. LINK
The Boston Globe's Michael Paulson Notes that Gov. Mitt Romney's (R-MA) visit to Rome, "reflects two realities: the ongoing importance of Catholicism in Massachusetts and the rising importance of Catholics in presidential elections." LINK
Gov. Romney said his trip isn't about politics, per the Boston Herald's Kimberly Atkins. LINK
E.J. Montini of the Arizona Republic coyly takes issue with Sen. McCain's recent assertion to the Baltimore Sun that he does not lose his temper. LINK
In his must-read but basically-unaffordable New York Times column, Paul Krugman offers some "advice" to Secretary Snow about how to increase his credibility and attempts to teach him some things about the American economy. LINK
In fact, the column is actually advice to any Democrat who wants to be president in 2008, if they can only sing the music AND remember the lyrics.
While on Long Island yesterday, Sen. Clinton was asked if she agrees with Rep. Murtha's six-month timetable for withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. LINK
The New York Daily News has her reply: "'I was stunned when the President gave his answer about when the war in Iraq would be over - that it would be up to future Presidents,' Clinton said. 'I don't think that was a responsible answer.'"
"And though Clinton said she did not believe that the U.S. can commit to a specific withdrawal date, she added, 'The Iraqi people cannot expect us to be there for them indefinitely.'"
Philippe Reines explains Sen. Clinton's immigration-related reference to Jesus to the New York Post. LINK
The New York Daily News' Bazinet and McAuliff write, "A White House official said the President was well aware of Clinton's biblical broadside when he spoke [about the need for a civil debate on immigration], but Team Bush didn't want to single her out and give her the spotlight." LINK
Reines' statement to the Los Angeles Times: "Since Sen. Clinton has always discussed this important issue in a serious, civil and dignified manner, we assume that his admonition was directed elsewhere." LINK
Per Thomas Beaumont of the Des Moines Register, Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) crosses the border today to meet with Missouri Democrats and headline the state Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner. LINK
While traveling in Wisconsin, Ken Mehlman defended the RNC's radio ad running in the state highlighting Sen. Feingold's call for censure and "dismissed a report by the nonpartisan Annenberg Political Fact Check, which says the ad falsely characterizes Feingold's resolution," reports the Green Bay Press Gazette. LINK
Granite State pols wise up and return to "Live free or die" from (we aren't kidding) "You're going to love it here." LINK
This week Charlie Cook uses his National Journal column to offer his micro analysis of the 2006 midterm election.
"A hurricane does seem likely to hit the GOP this November. But the micro analysis shows that structural barriers in the House and Senate are protecting the Republican majorities like seawalls, and would likely withstand the surge from a Category 1, 2, or 3 storm. They probably couldn't withstand a Category 4 or 5, though."
Cook concludes thusly: "In four out of five elections, the micro analysis proves accurate. But in about one out of five, it doesn't. Will this year be one of those exceptions?"
The AP writes up President Bush's fundraising trip today for Rep. Mike Sodrel (R-IN) stating that "Bush's appearance will be a boost for Sodrel even though the president's popularity has been sagging in Indiana, political analysts said." LINK
Reflecting the CW of the Keystone State press corps, James O'Toole of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that although DSCC-target Rick Santorum (R-PA) expects to raise over $500,000 by having President Bush over, "At this point in his administration. . . the president's embrace is a mixed blessing to Santorum and other Republican candidates." LINK
Bloomberg's Jay Newton-Small looks at the "balancing act" Democrats are planning for November on Medicare: "They are helping senior citizens sign up for the new prescription subsidy, championed by President George W. Bush, at the same time they slam it as a cumbersome boondoggle that helps insurance companies and drugmakers more than Medicare recipients." LINK
Start your stopwatch now to clock how long it takes EMILY's List to turn Robin Toner's Page One New York Times story on Democratic women House candidates into a fundraising appeal. LINK (It hit our inbox from the EMILY's list press office at 7:20 am)
Too bad the poor can't invest in hedge funds, writes the Wall Street Journal in an editorial that refers to New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer as "Lord High Executioner."
The Des Moines Register's Philip Brasher reports that a group affiliated with U2's Bono has come up with a new way to get Rep. Nussle's attention: "Doctor his biographical entry on the online reference guide Wikipedia." LINK
"The organization, known as ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History, wants" Nussle to support "increased funding for combating AIDS and poverty in poor countries."
"So the group added the following to the Wikipedia entry for Nussle:"
"'As Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Congressman Nussle and Iowa also have an incredible opportunity to influence and save lives in Africa and the world's poorest countries by fully funding the fight against global AIDS and extreme poverty.'"
(Read the "Gang of 500" Wikipedia entry here: LINK)
Michael Fletcher of the Tampa Tribune has the Florida gubernatorial candidates voicing their opinions on the South Dakota abortion ban that is becoming a debate topic in the Florida race. LINK
The AP on the same: LINK
The Boston Globe's Frank Phillips writes that a lack of Republican candidates and Gov. Mitt Romney's (R-MA) focus on 2008 is weakening the GOP in Massachusetts. LINK
The Travis County DA is pushing the appeals court to reinstate conspiracy charges against Tom DeLay, while "The Hammer's" lawyers are angling to keep the charges off the table, reports R.G. Ratcliffe of the Houston Chronicle. LINK
Abramoff and his business partner "will soon be subpoenaed by defense attorneys to give sworn statements in the Konstantinos 'Gus' Boulis murder case" because, per the defense attorney, "'the SunCruz Casino sale is at the heart' of the murder case," writes Jon Burstein of the Sun Sentinel. LINK
Dick Polman, one of the finest political journalists of his generation, is headed to the academy -- one of those fancy Ivy League perches, no less. LINK Presumably, life will be less like the world's longest funeral now. LINK
The Power & the Glitter (con't):
Andy Spahn, the Democratic Party's go-to man for connecting the power to the glitter (and vice versa), is opening his own consulting firm. Spahn spent more than ten years at Dream Works SKG working with Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen. During his tenure at the studio, he managed the charitable and political giving of the firm's three founders while running the Corporate Affairs department.
From his offices in Universal City, Andy Spahn & Associates will continue to work with Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg, Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Dream Works Animation while also representing other individuals and companies with an interest in "giving back and making a difference in their communities."
Good luck and good day, Andy.