Walking in Privileged


On the big whiteboard easel in Josh Bolten's office, there is a "to do" list.

(We know this because Tony Snow -- who, as a 41 Administration veteran and working journalist, believes in leaking, but only when it would further his own interests, embarrass the president, or make him look cool -- left Josh's offices the first time he saw the board and called The Note immediately to let us know.)

(Note to Tony: We kid because we love.  Congratulations.  We know you won't leak any more than, say, Marlin did.  But more than Scott, please.)

Anyway, on the "to do" list (titled "PAGE TURNING") the following items have big check marks next to them (or not):

1. Send Haigian signal: "I am in charge." [CHECK]

2. Get public to see POTUS plan on energy costs. [CHECK]

3. Issue high-profile veto threat on spending. [CHECK]

4. Step up POTUS involvement on immigration talks. [CHECK]

5. Change briefer and use the briefings to score points. [CHECK]

6. End the war with the CIA.

7. Make this a year of significant progress in Iraq.

8. Hold the R congresssional majorities.

9. Spokesperson-in-Chief on the economy.

10. Reid-Pelosi-Dean.

This morning, the White House got that 5th check mark, when the Tony Snow Era began!

With olive branches and pre-canned jokes galore, President Bush announced that Tony Snow, a Fox News commentator, radio host and former Bush 41 speechwriter, will be his third White House press secretary at 9:10 am ET.

The White House press corps was all atwitter this morning about a Town Hall article attributed to Tony Snow slamming the President for ordering inquiries into possible gouging. Town Hall has since taken down Tony Snow's byline and photo from today's column and now credits Tony Blankley with the work. LINK

"One of the things that always made me feel good in the morning was waking up and realizing I did not belong to the same political party as Chuck Schumer," writes Blankley. "It made me feel clean -- even before I took a shower. But now, with my Republican president pulling a 'full Schumer,' even a series showers will not help. " "He sometimes has disagreed with me," President Bush told the White House press corps while ushering in the Snow Era before adding that Snow told him: "You should have heard what I said about the other guy."

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are in Iraq today, having been dispatched by President Bush on separate, surprise missions calculated to demonstrate a strong show of support for the country's emerging new government.

Asked by a reporter whether his 12th visit to Iraq would be his last as Pentagon chief, the embattled Rumsfeld "replied with one word, and no smile: 'No.'" LINK

Democrats will continue their drumbeat on gas prices today.

DSCC Chairman Schumer (D-NY) and DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) hold a 12:00 pm ET press conference at DNC headquarters to release a list of "the ten worst votes on oil and gas that Republicans have cast in the House and Senate" and to "detail the impact of rising gas prices" on GOPers running for Congress this year.

One hour earlier, the DGA is holding a conference call on gas prices and the Bush Administration's "failure" to address America's energy challenges in a "meaningful way." The governors plan to take questions from reporters.

Sens. Schumer, Dick Durbin, Barbara Boxer, Debbie Stabenow, and Maria Cantwell hold an 11:00 am ET presser at the congressional Exxon gas station at 200 Massachusetts Ave., NE, to highlight "a daily burden placed on the American people by high gas prices."

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) discusses "Ending the Dishonesty: The Way Forward on Border Patrol and Patriotic Immigration" at the American Enterprise Institute at 12:30 pm ET.

The Mortgage Bankers Association holds its national policy conference at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Washington, DC today. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Treasury Secretary John Snow, and Financial Services Committee Chairman Michael Oxley (R-OH) were set to deliver remarks at 9:00 am ET.

Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson deliver remarks at 11:00 am ET, and former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe and former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie deliver remarks at 12:00 pm ET.

President Bush makes 1:30 pm ET remarks at a ceremony honoring the 2006 National and State Teachers of the Year at the White House in the Rose Garden.

First Lady Laura Bush delivers 12:05 pm ET remarks at the spring meeting of the James Madison Council at the Library of Congress. The council is a private-sector group created to serve as the LOC's primary link to the business community.

MoveOn.org launches its second wave of "red-handed" ads today, spending $1.3 million in an attempt to link Reps. Nancy Johnson (R-CT), Thelma Drake (R-VA), Chris Chocola (R-IN), and Deborah Pryce (R-OH) to the interests of pharmaceutical companies. (The first wave focused on links to energy companies).

The House International Relations Committee holds an 11:30 am ET hearing on "Iraq: Update on US Policy." James Jeffrey, senior adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and coordinator for Iraq at the State Department, and Peter Rodman, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, testify.

The House meets at 10:00 am ET to consider urging China to reinstate all licenses of Gao Zhisheng and his law firm, remove all legal and political obstacles for lawyers attempting to defend criminal cases in China, and revise laws and practices in China so that it conforms to international standards.

The Supreme Court hears oral arguments starting at 10:00 am ET in Hill v. McDonough and Mohawk Industries v. Williams.

The Sunlight Foundation launches Congresspedia on a 10:00 am ET conference call with reporters. Congresspedia is a collaboratively-written, wiki-based Web site documenting "the people, organizations and issues shaping the public agenda." LINK

In the hopes of avoiding the politically-motivated subterfuge that has, at times, bedeviled the Wikipedia on-line encyclopedia, Congresspedia will be overseen by a paid editor.

The Washington Post's Jeffrey Birnbaum curtain raises the Congresspedia launch: LINK

The Tony Snow Era:

Per the AP's venerable Terence Hunt, the liberal Center for American Progress (CAP) is circulating "unflattering observations by Snow about Bush." LINK

"Snow wrote last November after Republicans failed to win the governor's race in Virginia that 'the newly passive George Bush has become something of an embarrassment.'"

Here's the link to the Think Progress research on Snow: LINK

"Barbara Comstock said Snow's years of talk radio will help him handle the press, since 'they can be very smart but occasionally obnoxious - he can handle the spectrum,'" reports Deborah Orin of the New York Post. LINK

The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz Notes many key facts, as only he can. LINK

Just in case you thought that the buzz around the upcoming White House Correspondents Dinner was going to be about gas prices, you thought wrong.

The New York Times' Rutenberg has a Senior Administration Official saying "Mr. Snow would have 'walk-in privileges' and an important role in 'strategic thinking.'" LINK

Time's Mike Allen includes Snow's "flute, alto flute, soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax and guitar" playing in his story. LINK

Allen Notes that McClellan said last week that he would stay on for "two or three weeks" to work with his successor.

In all of the stories, Snow's interest in the job is cast as a Borkian desire for influence and an intellectual feast. (Not much better in the event.) Maybe he needs a press secretary of his own!!!

Politics of gas:

"The rise in energy prices has undermined the administration's effort to build a case that its policies have led to economic prosperity and has given Democrats an opening to portray the White House and Congressional Republicans as allies of the oil industry. With Mr. Bush's poll numbers sagging and his party on the defensive over the Iraq war, Republicans have been scrambling to show they are trying to help consumers," writes David Sanger of the New York Times. LINK

Jim VandeHei and Steven Mufson of the Washington Post listened to Bush's speech yesterday and heard a president who "wants to project the image of a leader doing everything he can to provide some relief without alienating corporate allies and economic conservatives who loathe government intervention in the market." LINK

"The president sounded aggressive and emphatic as he touted specific policy ideas to fight oil price hikes in what could mark the impact of his new chief-of-staff, Josh Bolten, brought in to try to revitalize the White House," writes the New York Post's Deborah Orin. LINK

The New York Daily News' DeFrank offers an analysis that President Bush's remarks yesterday were delivered with an eye toward to the midterm election. DeFrank also labeled the President's energy remarks a "flip-flop." LINK

More from the Boston Globe: LINK

The oil industry is planning to invest $30 million in a grassroots lobbying effort to inform the public how the industry works and why gas prices have raised, writes Jim Synder of the Hill. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's McKinnon/Fialka/Ball buck the conventional wisdom and have oil analysts saying that "despite critics' dismissal of the White House moves, the actions…could affect prices." LINK

But Bush's remarks are having the opposite impact on the oil industry: "Oil executives, who typically have a friendly ear in the administration, appeared worried by the escalating political rhetoric."

"But some administration proposals represent a departure for the conservative, free-market-oriented Mr. Bush and reflect the extent to which his political position has eroded since his re-election."

The Washington Post reports on the GOP's inter-cameral haggling over a tax policy that would force the oil companies to pay $5 billion a year in new taxes. LINK

In her New York Times column, Maureen Dowd writes that George Bush's call for conservation is a concession to Al Gore. LINK

Jon Hilkevitch of the Chicago Tribune takes a look at how high gas prices are affecting road and highway construction and development. LINK

The Washington Times Noted that while "analysts and Democrats" were skeptical of Bush's plans to lower gas prices, "crude oil and gasoline futures fell yesterday after Mr. Bush's announcement." The paper also reported that the Senate is expected to debate Sen. Menendez's proposed amendment on the subject sometime this week. LINK

The Houston Chronicle on the same. LINK

The San Francisco Chronicle writes up Bush's gas push under a: "Bush's gas plan seen as too little, too late: Most of president's proposals already tied up in Congress" header. LINK

The San Francisco Chronicle's Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross tell us that at least some of those oil company profits went to Gov. Schwarzenegger's campaign. LINK

David Jackson of USA Today has energy analysts saying that the short term is where politicians have the least control. LINK

Politics of immigration:

Under a "Bush, senators agree on alien citizenship, shut out critics" front-page header, the Washington Times' Stephen Dinan reports that President Bush and a "group of senators yesterday reached general agreement on an immigration bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for many illegal aliens. But left out of the closed-door White House meeting were senators who oppose a path to citizenship. The meeting even snubbed two men who had been considered allies of Mr. Bush on immigration -- Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican and chairman of the immigration subcommittee, and Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican." LINK

Jim Rutenberg and Rachel Swarns of the New York Times write up the President's meeting with a bipartisan group of Senators on immigration in an attempt to break the logjam. Most Senators seem to have found the meeting productive, but make sure to read all the way to the bottom of the story to get your fly-on-the-wall perspective from Sen. Martinez, featuring "John McCain -- Superstar." LINK

The Labor Department's intervention on behalf of illegal immigrants who have been taken advantage of while working to repair the Katrina disaster zone is raising some eyebrows, reports the Wall Street Journal. LINK

The Los Angeles Times reports on the progress thus far on congressional efforts to formulate immigration policy. LINK

The Washington Times tells us what Judd Gregg wants to do with 1.9 billion dollars. LINK

Rummy and Congress:

In a statement released by his office on Tuesday, Sen. John Warner (R-VA) declared the current debate among retired generals about Rumsfeld "an important exercise of the right to freedom of speech" and promised to make a decision on holding a hearing "in the near future."

What is interesting about the statement, according to Jonathan Karl, ABC News' national security correspondent, is what is not said.

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee offers no support for Rumsfeld, reports Karl. He says he supports the President's right to make decisions about who serves in the Cabinet, but has nothing good to say about Rumsfeld himself.

The Washington Post on Sen. Warner's promise to respond to a request from Sen. Clinton asking for hearings with the retired generals critical of Rumsfeld. LINK

Secretaries Rumsfeld and Rice made their visit to Iraq at the behest of the President, according to the Washington Post's story, which also reports that Rice will use part of her time there to address the $200 million a year the U.S. is spending on logistical support for Green Zone employees. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

President Bush is threatening to veto the emergency supplemental funding bill for Iraq and Hurricane Katrina rebuilding if it exceeds $92.2 billion.

ABC News' Karen Travers Notes that while this is President Bush's 135th veto threat, he has never vetoed a single piece of legislation.

ABC News' Liz Marlantes reports that Dr./Leader/Sen. Frist (R-TN) responded positively to the veto threat, issuing a statement, saying, "Families must live within their means, and so should Washington. I applaud the Administration's determination to stick to true emergency spending, and will support a veto, if necessary, to keep federal spending under control."

The New York Times on the veto threat and President's request to shift $2.2 billion to rebuilding the levees. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's David Rogers has harsh words for Republicans in Congress over their handling of the emergency-spending legislation, writing that the "ruckus illustrates a growing Balkanization among Republicans as opposing factions and powerful chairmen fight with one another as if oblivious to the larger drift in the party." LINK

The Washington Times on the veto threat. LINK

The Hill's Jonathan Allen reports that budget hawks continued to urge President Bush yesterday to veto the emergency war-funding bill currently in the Senate. The bill includes $14 billion in unrelated spending. LINK

Politics of preemption:

"The Americans should know that if they invade Iran, their interests around the world would be harmed," Iran supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday on state-run Tehran television. "Iran will respond double-fold to any attack."

Bolten's free hand:

Roll Call's Pershing and Billings have congressional Republicans offering support for Legislative Liaison Candida Wolff yesterday, refuting rumors she might be the next senior aide to leave the Administration.

Bush Administration agenda:

The New York Times writes up Hector Barreto's departure from the Small Business Administration. LINK

GOP agenda:

Bloomberg reports that Republican leaders will introduce constitutional amendments to ban flag-burning and gay marriage this summer, in an attempt to more clearly define themselves in contrast to Democrats. LINK

Politics of leaks:

The CIA defended its firing of Mary McCarthy, reports the New York Times. LINK

Joe Conason of the New York Observer on the crackdown on leaks and what that means for America when the leak was "necessary". LINK

The Wall Street Journal editorializes that the Mary McCarthy case is just "the latest example of the unseemly symbiosis between elements of the press corps and a cabal of partisan bureaucrats at the CIA and elsewhere in the 'intelligence community' who have been trying to undermine the Bush Presidency." LINK

"As for some of our media colleagues, when they stop being honest chroniclers of events and start getting into bed with bureaucrats looking to take down elected political leaders, they shouldn't be surprised if those leaders treat them like the partisans they have become."

The Clintons of Chappaqua:

Under a "Portrait of a Mystery: Where's Clinton's wedding ring?" header, Glenn Thrush has Sen. Clinton saying: "I don't know. You'll have to ask my husband," and a spokesman for the former president blaming "artistic license" for the "ring to-do." LINK

Check out Philippe's quip in Page Six today: LINK

2006: landscape:

The AP's Tom Raum writes that if President Bush's party loses control of one, or both chambers of Congress, "the next two years could be a political nightmare for Bush and his GOP allies on Capitol Hill." LINK

2006: Senate:

Per The Hill, "If retired Gen. Tommy Franks were to jump into the Florida Senate race, he would lead Rep. Katherine Harris by 4 percentage points in the Republican primary, according to a new poll of Florida voters conducted by Strategic Vision LLC, a GOP polling firm." LINK

US Senate candidate Bob Casey gave a Harrisburg speech yesterday endorsing the expansion of insurance coverage for children and affordability for small business reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. LINK

The Washington Post covers the kickoff event of James Webb's campaign for George Allen's Virginia Senate seat. The newly identified Democrat wore combat boots and attacked the Republican Congress for sending "other people's kids to war and other people's kids to bad schools." LINK

2006: Gubernatorial:

With less than a week to go until Ohio's May 2 primary, the Columbus Dispatch reports Kenneth Blackwell spent yesterday away from the TV cameras in Ohio's rural areas, leaving opponent Jim Petro with nobody to oppose at a Cleveland City Club debate. LINK and LINK

The Toledo Blade says the social issues that have become dominant in the heated fight between Blackwell and Petro have become a battle for the "soul" of the state's Republican Party. LINK

One expert tells the Blade, "What is at play is a reshaping of the party by Blackwell's articulation of very conservative -- particularly social -- issues."

Rod Boshart of the Cedar Rapids Gazette recaps last night's primary debate between the four Democrats looking to face Jim Nussle in Iowa's gubernatorial election. LINK

Chicago Tribune's John Chase and Ray Long Note that Gov. Blagojevich "slipped" $10 million in state grants for stem cell research and have Judy Baar Topinka, "who said she supports stem-cell research, arguing that "Blagojevich should be up front about how he wants to fund it." LINK

Anna Schneider-Mayerson of the New York Observer profiles Silda Wall, wife of outgoing state Attorney General and gubernatorial favorite Elliot Spitzer, on shifting gears and on living life in the political spotlight. LINK


Jason Horowitz of the New York Observer ponders Rudy Giuliani's ability to be a strong prospect to win the GOP presidential nomination, given his decidedly unconservative stance on certain social issues. LINK

2008: Republicans:

Iowan officials have spent $50,000 to construct a new exit ramp to handle the expected crowds when Rudy Giuliani visits the state next week. LINK

Following his speech to the US Chamber of Commerce about his state's newly-enacted health-insurance plan, Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) told reporters: ''Most impressions at this point are inaccurate or partially baked." LINK

The Massachusetts Senate makes changes to their heath care legislation. LINK

The AP's Glen Johnson reports that in 2006, Gov. Romney has spent "almost half his business days outside Massachusetts, most frequently fostering his own presidential ambitions or boosting the Republican Governors Association, of which he is serving as chairman this year." LINK

In a piece on education reform in the Providence Journal, Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) writes that the way to close the education gap isn't simply with more money and smaller class sizes, but teacher incentives, school choice, and higher standards. LINK

Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) is pitching New Your tourism but Gov. Romney is taking a lower profile, reports the Boston Herald. LINK

2008: Democrats:

A Diageo/Hotline poll shows Sen. Clinton leading the Democratic primary field with 38% among registered Democrats. The closest competitors are Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) who has 14 percent support and Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) who has 13% support.

"In an effort to bring national attention" to their cause, former Sen. John Edwards marched with striking University of Miami employees yesterday, reports the AP's Tony Winton. LINK

Coverage from the Miami Herald: LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

In his Washington Post column, Harold Meyerson writes that what might save Angelides in his race against Westly is a "massive independent expenditure campaign from California's unions." Meyerson suggests, however, that the unions might not be able to do that because they spent so heavily last year to defeat Schwarzenegger's special-election ballot measures. LINK

The Los Angeles Times Notes the fierce campaigning between two Democratic gubernatorial primary candidates. LINK

Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters writes that a funny thing happened on the way to the California Democratic nomination for governor, with Phil Angelides suddenly the underdog in his fight against Steve Westly. LINK

Not helping matters for Angelides is his "frank talk" that is irking California's business community. LINK

Port security:

Eric Lipton of the New York Times explains why Democrats are continuing to try to keep port security in the spotlight. LINK

The Dept of Homeland Security announced Tuesday that the US government will do given tamper-proof IDs and do identification checks on 400,000 seaport workers with access to "sensitive areas of our nation's ports" reports Mimi Hall of USA Today. LINK

Lobbying reform:

"Appropriators threatened Tuesday to block the House Republican leadership's lobbying and ethics package unless new ground rules for earmarks are applied to authorization and tax bills as well as spending measures," reports CQ's Steven T. Dennis, Isaiah J. Poole, and Susan Ferrechio. The Hill's O'Connor and Schor on the same. LINK

The Hill's Elana Schor reports that lobbying efforts to defeat the estate tax have been funded primarily by 18 business-dynasty families. LINK

Limitations on 527 groups have again been added to the embattled House lobbying reform bill, fueling calls from Senate Democrats for a filibuster of any bill that includes the restrictive provision, reports Tory Newmyer of Roll Call.

The Roll Call editorial board wonders what happened to promises of significant lobbying reform.

The Abramoff affair:

"Montana Sen. Conrad Burns has retained a lawyer who specializes in white collar crime and congressional investigations, his campaign confirmed Tuesday," reports the Associated Press. LINK

"Campaign spokesman Jason Klindt said that Burns has hired Ralph Caccia, a Washington partner with the law firm Powell Goldstein."


The New York Times' Rudoren follows yesterday's Wall Street Journal reporting on Rep. Mollohan's (D-WV) purchase of a $900,000 farm with a friend whose business has been the beneficiary of some Mollohan-inspired earmarks. LINK

House of Labor:

New York City politicians are distancing themselves from Wal-Mart at the same time consumers are taking advantage of those everyday low prices, per the New York Observer's Niall Stanage. LINK


The National Restaurant Association wants permission from the FEC to solicit money from the general public on behalf of favored candidates, "most of whom the organization has already contributed to and publicly endorsed," Roll Call reports. "The request, if approved, could spur other large trade associations to follow suit, opening a new channel for funneling money into federal campaigns."

Tom Kean, Jr. will no doubt be happy to read the headline above Quinnipiac University's latest poll: "New Jersey Budget Problems End Corzine's Honeymoon"

Gov. Jon Corzine's (D-NJ) approval rating has taken a dive according to the Quinnipiac poll released today. His clearly unpopular handling of the state budget seems to be the main drag on his now 35 percent approval rating. However, 87 percent of those polled said that Corzine inherited the state's current budget problems. Whether or not Corzine can help or hurt the Menendez campaign this fall remains TBD, but something worth watching.

The New York Times writes up the anti-gun violence meeting at Gracie Mansion in New York City yesterday with 15 of the country's mayors and includes public affairs professor Doug Muzio's analysis of Bloomberg's chances of success. LINK

"'If gun violence were out of control in the cities, as it was in the cowboy days of the late 80's and early 90's, he might have a better chance,' he said. 'That said, it might be good politics for the mayor to hold such a high-level meeting. It could crystallize the opinions of urban constituents who disproportionately suffer from gun violence.'"