The Note: Decisions to Be Made

And Karl offers this account from the meeting with retired generals: "Donald Rumsfeld met with a group of 14 retired military officers for 45 minutes this afternoon in what one participant called 'a love fest.'"

"'They were falling over themselves to give encouragement and say nice things,' the participant said. 'If the secretary felt any stress going into the meeting, it was relieved by the choruses of 'you are brilliant, you are doing the right thing' coming from these guys.'"

The New York Times has mixed reaction from the Hill to the pro-Rumsfeld offensive by the Administration. LINK

On the one hand, an anonymous "Senate Republican aide" tells Timesman David Cloud that "despite expressions of support for Mr. Rumsfeld by some Republican senators, many other members expressed deep concern privately."

But that same aide said "he knew of no organized effort among Senate Republicans to make their concerns public or to take them to the White House," and the Times Notes that Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) issued a release yesterday "taking on Mr. Rumsfeld's critics point by point."

The Washington Times give significant play to Sec. Rumsfeld's comments at yesterday's presser and Bush's warm and fuzzy remarks about "Don." LINK

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman writes that at "a minimum, a change must be made at the Pentagon." LINK

"I look at the Bush national security officials much the way I look at drunken drivers. I just want to take away their foreign policy driver's licenses for the next three years. Sorry, boys and girls, you have to stay home now -- or take a taxi. Dial 1-800-NATO-CHARGE-A-RIDE. You will not be driving alone. Not with my car."

The Los Angeles Times' Peter Spiegel suggests the defense of Rumsfeld's tenure that focuses on his "transformation" of the military misses the point: "none of the retired generals who have called for Rumsfeld's resignation have mentioned the administration's military transformation agenda. Five of the generals have either commanded forces in Iraq or been directly involved in formulating military plans for dealing with Iraq, and all have cited Rumsfeld's management of the war as the reason for calling on him to step down." LINK


The Wall Street Journal's McKinnon and Hitt couldn't resist the Veepstakes angle, writing that Portman is "thought to have higher political ambitions, which could mean returning to Ohio to run for office, according to Republicans. He could also become an attractive vice-presidential candidate in 2008, given his appeal in that crucial swing state."

The Wall Street Journal's ed board is bullish on Portman and not-so-bullish on Schwab whom the newspaper describes as having a "mixed" record on trade.

The Washington Times' Stephan Dinan cites Rob Portman's mix of "the fresh and the familiar" as the reason Bush chose him to head up the OMB. LINK

Portman's shift to OMB likely signals the Doha trade talks are dead, the Los Angeles Times' Joel Havemann writes, with the Bush Administration focusing now on budget issues over trade. LINK

"Portman's good relationships could face a strain in his new position, with restive Republicans pushing for reform of the administration's budgetary policy and a more concerted effort to rein in runaway federal spending," writes Elana Schor in The Hill. LINK


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