Stubborn Facts on the Ground

WASHINGTON, May 10

If we live in such interesting times, why has the Gang of 500 been so excruciatingly bored for a fortnight?

At the White House senior staff meeting, it's the usual old gallows humor, with anxiety channeled into an office pool on which happens first: Bonds hits 714, the Dow hits 12,000, or wrong track hits 75%. (The White House counsel, already uncomfortable with wagering taking place on government property, put her foot down on a dunking machine tethered to POTUS job approval.)

But it's the same old same old -- another national media poll with Bush/GOP numbers just plain bad, and yet so in line with the Fox numbers and the private polling that even the bloggers barely burn time challenging the methodology; an intractable Iran; the Bush family reaping the Katherine Harris whirlwind it sowed; primary results that mean less for November than a pile of chicken bones; White House and RNC press releases that look starkly indistinguishable; senior Republicans more delighted with Nancy Pelosi's leadership than senior Democrats are; Al Gore doing something politically brilliant (that is, if he were interested in running for president); congressional Republicans cutting taxes without having to answer for the raw dollar amounts of the distribution of benefits (as opposed to meaningless percentages); Jim Rutenberg continuing to find Dan Bartlett to be an exceedingly pleasant and accessible man; Jeff Zeleny continuing to become a major force; butter continuing to melt in Gary Ginsberg's mouth; and The Note continuing to make spritely inside jokes that even the waitresses at Lauriol Plaza don't get.

And President Bush continues to sell his domestic agenda, with his Medicare prescription drug benefit road show in Florida at a 9:30 am ET "conversation" on the topic at Asociación Borinqueña de Florida Central, Inc. in Orlando, FL.

The group is the oldest Puerto Rican organization in Central Florida where the President hopes to grab the attention of many Hispanic elders who qualify for new drug benefit. The President then heads back home and meets with victims of identity theft at 1:40 pm ET in the Roosevelt Room. (Insert your own joke about how they get cleared into the White House here.)

Apparently oblivious to the fact that President Bush is a man who says what he means and means what he says, Senate and House Democratic leaders are expected to be joined by "hundreds of seniors" to call for a Part D enrollment deadline extension at 1:30 pm ET. Earlier, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and her colleagues in the House Democratic leadership will also hold a post-conference 10:00 am ET media availability at which they are expected to push for an extension.

Vice President Cheney delivers remarks at the "Distinguished Service Award" ceremony at the US Capitol at 2:30 pm ET. Apparently delighted to appear on "The Daily Show," Vice President Cheney and outgoing CIA Director Porter Goss are expected to receive the award this year.

Speaker Hastert has a packed public appearance schedule today. At 10:00 am ET, the Speaker will be available to the press following the House Republican caucus meeting. Speaker Hastert will partake in the House Republican suburban agenda roll-out at 1:00 pm ET. A tax reconciliation press conference is scheduled for 2:00 pm ET, followed by the Distinguished Service Award ceremony.

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