The Note: Seeing 2006 Through the 2008 Prism

WASHINGTON, Mar. 30

No ouija board or Magic 8 Ball can tell you how the immigration debate or the Bolten reorganization will come out. You could pay a dollar for the New York Times, which would make you think that Hastert is compromising, Specter is meta-compromising, Snow is a Dead Secretary Walking, and Josh is a layerer.

Save your money, and know this: the day President Bush kowtows to Wall Street is the day he makes Henry Waxman Secretary of HHS and Googling monkeys switch to a different search tool.

As Dana Carvey doing his classic 41 imitation would say: na ga na do it.

As for analyzing George Allen's kicker quote in the Washington Post story about Bill Frist or Mitt Romney's entitlement musings to Bloomberg: wouldn't be prudent.

For careful readers, more on all this below.

President Bush starts the day in Cancun and travels to Chichen Itza to tour the Mayan ruins. At 4:00 pm he has a bilateral meeting with Mexican President Vicente Fox followed by a 5:15pm bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The agenda for the two-day North American summit includes trade, security, and immigration. At 8:30 pm the President attends a trilateral dinner hosted by President Fox.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy speaks to the American Society of International Law at 4:30 pm ET.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) and HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt meet with business, education, health, state, and community leaders to discuss California's pandemic influenza preparedness at 5:30 pm ET in Los Angeles, CA.

The Senate continues debate on immigration reform. At noon, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) will offer the text of the Judiciary Committee bill as substitute language for the pending legislation offered by Dr./Leader/Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN). Debate is set to continue into the late afternoon on Thursday.

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) joins elected officials and community leaders at 10:00 am ET to sign legislation that will crack down on gang violence and witness intimidation.

Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) and members of the newly appointed Rural Bank Task Force will make an announcement about preserving the lending opportunities in New Mexico's rural communities at 3:30 pm ET in Santa Fe, NM.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds her briefing at 10:45 am ET.

Cancun:

The Washington Post on the tensions underlying President Bush's visit to Mexico: LINK

More on the President's trip from USA Today: LINK

Bolten succeeds Card:

Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times takes the field alone to report that one of Josh Bolten's first moves as chief of staff may be to replace Treasury Secretary John Snow. LINK

Henry Paulson of Goldman Sachs, John Mack of Morgan Stanley, and Dick Parsons of Time Warner (who, apparently, can count Karl Rove among his fans) all get a mention as possible Snow successor. Bumiller also Notes that changes are afoot in the congressional liaison office at 1600 with, perhaps, Bill Paxon or Dan Coats coming on board to head up the operation.

Newsweek's Howard Fineman smartly Notes that President Bush tapping Bolten to be his new chief of staff "isn't a 'shake-up,' at least not so far. It's the opposite: a circling of the wagons. Or, in Texas-speak, it's Bush insisting on his deeply held belief in 'dancing with the ones that brung ya.'" LINK

In his column Robert Novak Notes that perhaps President Bush should take a lesson from President Reagan's cabinet shake up in 1987 and acknowledge weaknesses in his party and administration. LINK

Bush Administration agenda and personality:

Karl Rove will speak at the Escambia County Republican Party's annual fundraiser on Friday, reports Lesley Conn of the Pensacola News Journal. LINK

Politics of immigration:

". . . immigration legislation is proving to be such a politically thorny and time-consuming topic for lawmakers that there is talk of pushing back final passage of a massive overhaul bill until after the November elections," reports Congress Daily AM.

The Washington Times' headline reads: Frist retreats from 'amnesty' LINK

David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times examines the risk the Republican Party faces of hurting its decade-long goal of expanding its reach in the Hispanic community in the face of the current immigration debate. LINK

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman is doing some fundraising and local media in Arizona today as well as meeting with local Hispanic leaders in the community.

The New York Times on Hastert's hinting at compromise on a guest worker program: LINK

Carolyn Lochhead of the San Francisco Chronicle on the immigration debate and on the different interpretations for immigration-related definitions. LINK

The New York Post's Ian Bishop writes up the immigration debate through the eyes of the Senate's sole immigrant - Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL). LINK

The ed board of the Washington Post calls on the President to speak up -- and speak out to Congress -- on his pet issue: immigration. LINK

The Washington Times editorial board on the "reconquista agenda." LINK

Lobbying reform:

The Gang of 500 is clearly not blown away by the lobbying reform passed by the Senate. Note how high the "critics" get played in reports of the overwhelming 90-8 vote.

The Los Angeles Times: LINK

The New York Times' Stolberg Notes it is unclear whether or not the House and Senate will come to agreement on a reform bill this year. LINK

The Wall Street Journal reports the Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) plans to bring legislation that would limit the flow of cash from 527s.

San Francisco's Zachary Coile details the many "loopholes" in the bill that passed yesterday. He Notes that the 8 nays came from lobbying-reform proponents such as Sen. Feingold, Sen. McCain, and Sen. Obama. LINK

More from the Boston Globe: LINK

USA Today LINK

Jill Zuckman of the Chicago Tribune reports that although pleased with the idea of reform, many Democrats want to see further issue taken on lobbying reform. LINK

By studying events listed on the NRCC's Web site and keying off of a recent story in USA Today, the DCCC says the "do-nothing" Republican Congress is "on track" to spend less time than ever at work this year while spending "88 hours raising special interest money this week alone."

Per the DCCC, "A conservative estimate of the time spent at each of these fundraisers this week shows that Republicans in Congress will be raising special interest money for about as many hours as they have spent at work this entire month."

Big Casino budget politics:

The Wall Street Journal writes up Republicans' intra-party bickering over what should make it into the $2.7 trillion budget package.

Abramoff affair:

On the same day that former lobbyist Jack Abramoff was sentenced to 70 months in prison in Miami, the Washington Post has Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) saying there will be more indictments, promising "we will revisit this issue." LINK

The New York Times on the Abramoff sentencing: LINK

Politics of Iraq:

The New York Times follows its report on the United States' desire to not see Ibrahim al-Jaafari as the prime minister in Iraq upon the formation of a new government with an interview with al-Jaafari in which he urges the American government to refrain from interfering in the Iraqi political process. LINK

Senior defense officials tell the Washington Times not to expect any more troop to come home until Iraq has formed a unity government. LINK

2006:

"Ballot initiatives that would define marriage, raise the minimum wage, ban affirmative action hiring and endorse embryonic stem-cell research are among the measures that have been gaining the necessary signatures to earn a spot on the Nov. 7 ballot in several states," writes the AP's wise Donna Cassata in looking at the potential impact on senate and gubernatorial races around the country this year. LINK

"Initiatives stating that life begins at conception, limiting the growth of government spending and promoting renewable energy sources also could end up on the ballot on Election Day."

Salon's Walter Shapiro sizes up Sen. Joe Lieberman's Democratic primary contest in Connecticut and ponders his journey from 2000 vice presidential nominee to what his opponent's labeling him as "George Bush's favorite Democrat." LINK

Roll Call reports that Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) is on the air in Big Sky Country with a radio spot warning Montanans of dire consequences if Democrats regain control of the Senate." Montana Democrats have accused Sen. Burns of going negative.

Gen. Clark endorsed Virginia Senate candidate James Webb yesterday. Webb is challenging potential '08er Sen. George Allen, reports David Lerman of the Daily Press. LINK

Fred Dicker of the New York Post writes up the latest Quinnipiac University poll numbers which show John Faso with a slight lead over Bill Weld in the Republican gubernatorial primary. LINK

"Real Plans for Real People":

Speaker after speaker at Wednesday's "real security" event criticized the Bush Administration for a record of "incompetence," "dangerous incompetence," and even "rank incompetence," in the words of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

On the issue of Iraq, the Democrats avoided discussing a timetable for withdrawal -- an issue that divides them and talked instead about making 2006 a year of "significant transition" in Iraq.

That language, you'll remember, was used in a resolution passed by Congress last year.

But the Democrats made an effort to breathe new meaning into those words by contrasting their focus on 2006 with President Bush's recent unintended admission during a White House press conference that US troops will be in Iraq until, at least, 2009.

Americans are concerned, said Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), that the President said he got us into Iraq "but another President will have to get us out."

Sen. Reed also said that the Iraqi people need to know that America's commitment is "not unlimited."

"Iraq's problems can only truly be solved by the Iraqis themselves," he added.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) also used President Bush's recent 2009 signal to argue that the President has been sending "mixed messages" on Iraq.

The Democrats leaned heavily on Gen. Wesley Clark at yesterday's press conference. He slammed the Bush Administration as being dangerously off track in Iraq and invoked his experience leading troops into battle.

But while speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations on Feb. 10, Gen. Clark Noted that while he disagreed with the President's decision to go into Iraq, the Bush Administration's current policy was coming The General's way: "Basically, the administration has done everything I've recommended," Gen. Clark said back in February. LINK

As Democrats revealed their "Real Security" plan yesterday, the Bush team moved up the President's speech on Iraq to create dueling events reminiscent of the 2004 campaign, reports Billings and Stanton of Roll Call.

Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times writes that the Democratic Party's national security plan is long on rhetoric and short on details. LINK

The Washington Post writes up the Dems' test-drive of their new homeland-security watchwords. LINK

2008:

Carl P. Leubsdorf of the Dallas Morning News analyzes the effects of Iraq on 2008 and looks at goes into the stances of the potential candidates. LINK

2008: Republicans:

Some of his fellow Senators complain, via the Washington Post, that Sen./Dr./Leader Frist's presidential ambitions are in conflict with his leadership role. LINK

The AP's Nancy Zuckerbrod has Frist saying that his high-profile job is a "terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible" post for a 2008 presidential nomination, but that in the future "you'll see, as you do now, the real Bill Frist but unencumbered by having responsibilities of leading this body, which results in negotiated positions." LINK

Your Romney reading for the day includes MSNBC's Tim Curry's look at his proposals and his rhetoric (LINK), the AP's Andrew Miga's write up of his refusal to take a position on a specific piece of immigration reform legislation in the Senate (LINK), and Bloomberg's Heidi Przybyla's must-read (in which she declares him a "major" candidate and Ed Rollins is full of praise) on Gov. Romney's encroachment on traditionally Democratic issues such as healthcare and education. LINK

Roll Call's Stu Rothenberg observes that recent negatives for the Republican Party are positives when it comes to Sen. McCain's chances of winning the 2008 nomination.

The Hill's Jonathan Allen looks at Sen. McCain's "Southern primary strategy for 2008." LINK

Deborah Orin of the New York Post declares immigration as an issue -- much like abortion, she writes -- where you can't have it both ways. Orin goes on to columnize that the issue will provide a critical test for Sen. McCain's ability to "finesse a hot issue" in advance of his likely presidential campaign. LINK

David Brooks appeals to social conservatives to swing the Republican Party more towards Sam Brownback and less towards Tom Tancredo. LINK

The AP writes up Gov. Mike Huckabee's (R-AR) remarks that "he hasn't decided whether to run for president but acknowledged in New Hampshire today that it's not a coincidence that his visit is the third since August to the state with the leadoff primary." LINK

2008: Democrats:

"After raising nearly $1.3 million in 2005 for his One America Committee, [Former Sen. John] Edwards burned through almost all of the committee's cash -- including paying for a staff of about a dozen and tons of cross-country travel -- without giving a single donation to candidates for federal or state office," reports Roll Call's Paul Kane.

Adam Reilly of the Boston Phoenix writes: "Earlier this month, the New York Times Magazine anointed former Virginia governor Mark Warner as the candidate best positioned to play the role of the anti-Hillary. But Evan Bayh, the US senator from Indiana, may be an even better bet." LINK

"Like Warner, Bayh is a Democrat who has thrived in a heavily Republican state. . . But unlike Warner . . . Bayh can boast several statewide victories . . ."

Reilly later shows the difficulty Bayh might have selling himself to some Democratic activists by quoting a woman who was not happy about his refusal to sign Sen. Feingold's censure resolution.

Peter Somssich, the chair of the Portsmouth Democrats, who had introduced Bayh a few minutes earlier, said: 'You're not going to rally the troops by saying that,' Somssich complained. 'That's not going to help us at all. We have to get the base energized to get behind you and other candidates. And to just say, 'Well, just wait till November to change things' ... no.'"

Brian Tumulty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette has more on Sen. Feingold's vote on lobbying reform yesterday. LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

Robert Salladay of the Los Angeles Times looks at how the immigration-related protests in California have re-shaped the governor's race there. LINK

California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D) has just completed a whirlwind tour of Washington, DC which focused on getting California its "fair share" of federal funding, comprehensive immigration reform, and redistricting (which he discussed with California's congressional delegation on Wednesday).

While in the Senate anteroom on Tuesday, Nunez met Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

The 39-year-old Nunez was so star struck that he handed the two Senate legends his cell phone so that they could speak to his father.

"He's such a kid," gushed Nunez spokesguy/chaperone Steve Maviglio.

Clintons of Chappaqua:

President Bill Clinton is expected to be in Des Moines today attending Dr. Stephen Gleason's funeral, reports the Des Moines Register. LINK

Politics:

Rob Reiner stepped down as chairman of a state commission "amid accusations that the commission used tax money to boost his new political campaign," reports the Los Angeles Times. LINK