WASHINGTON, May 15
President Bush's primetime Oval Office address on immigration competes for shelf space today with the Medicare deadline, a key Cheney speech, and a key Rove speech.
But make no mistake about what the main event will be.
So: The Note's 10 ½ clean big non-secrets about immigration as a political issue:
1. The White House 72-hour striptease of the National Guard on the border has been brilliantly executed, with all of the pre-speech focus and headlines emphasizing a get-tough border enforcement element of what the President supports. (Score one for the Bolten-Rove-Bartlett-Wallace-Snow Gang of 5.)
2. Here is the money paragraph in all of today's print coverage, buried at the very end of Peter Baker's Washington Post opus: "Tonight's speech is aimed at assuaging House Republicans who have insisted on tougher enforcement measures against workers illegally in the country. If the House contingent feels action is being taken, White House officials hope they may yet sign off on some version of Bush's guest-worker proposal, which would provide a way for undocumented immigrants to stay here legally if they pay back taxes and penalties."
3. The House Republicans' "majority of the majority" rule requiring at least half of the GOP members of the House to support a bill before it comes to the floor for a vote is the biggest impediment in America today to there being a new immigration law.
4. House Republicans believe three things about immigration: (1) they won't vote for anything that talk radio hosts could in any way label "amnesty"; (2) their constituents will punish them if they don't pass an enforcement law before the election; (3) the President will see the light before too long and drop any pre-election attempt at a guest worker program.
5. The wild card in all this is the business lobby -- which failed to mobilize when the House passed its original enforcement bill, and is now the White House's not-so-secret weapon.
6. Most of the politicians (including former Texas Governor George Walker Bush) working the issue actually care about solving the problem. They are aware of the political dimensions, but winning Hispanic voters, or pacifying Big Business, or some other electoral calculation is not what is motivating them.
7. Almost all Old Media reporters are hopelessly out of touch with the feelings and motives of those concerned about getting back control of the border. The press favors amnesty, or, at least, a "liberal," McCain-Kennedy-style guest worker program.
8. These days, few political issues can stir the emotions of the iPod Nation -- but immigration clearly does, on all sides, as manifested by the massive rallies and what members of Congress have been hearing at town meetings for months and months.
9. Few issues these days unite the populist right with the populist left (like trade used to, that is, still does). But, again, immigration clearly does.
10. The level at which the White House and Dr./Sen./Leader Frist use the words "the border, the border, the border" would be comical, if this topic lent itself to comedy.
10.5. Democrats who care above all about taking control of the Congress do not want the President to get an accomplishment, and, thus, hope The Speech does not lead to an eventual bipartisan deal.
When the President addresses the nation about immigration at 8:00 pm ET, it can be seen on the ABC television network.
White House counselor Dan Bartlett said on "Good Morning America" that the White House is considering sending 2-3 percent of the nation's 400,000 National Guard troops to the US-Mexican border. (Note to Rutenberg: you do the math.)
In addition to the get-tough National Guard component and a plan to hold employers accountable for their hires, the President is also expected to discuss creating a temporary worker program and being "realistic" about deportation.
The President is expected to say that those who want to apply for citizenship would have to get on the end of the line; pay penalties for breaking the law by being here illegally; pay back taxes; learn English; and hold a job for several years. In other words: something that could pass the Senate but not the House -- at least not with a majority of the majority.
Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) will speak on the floor around 3:30 pm about the President's immigration speech.
Earlier in the day, the President will deliver 12:00 pm ET remarks at the Annual Peace Officers' Memorial Service at the US Capitol. Two hours before President Bush honors slain police officers, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and others will call for fully funding a program that helps state and local police purchase bulletproof vests for officers. The Bush Administration has proposed a $20 million cut in the program for FY 2007.
Karl Rove delivers an 11:00 am ET policy address at the American Enterprise Institute.
Per the Wall Street Journal's Jeanne Cummings, Mr. Rove is "expected to lay the foundation for an attack on Democrats, perhaps by reminding his audience that liberal leaders and ideas would return if Republicans lose control of either house of Congress."
The Senate reconvenes at 2:00 pm ET to begin consideration of legislation that would overhaul U.S. immigration policy (S 2611). No roll call votes are expected.
Vice President Cheney delivers 12:30 pm ET remarks at a luncheon for congressional candidate Craig Foltin in Cleveland, OH. Foltin is running for the House seat being vacated by Sherrod Brown, who is running for the Senate. The Democratic candidate is Betty Sutton.
The DCCC begins an effort today to highlight the Bush-Cheney ties to the oil and gas industry. Per the DCCC's Bill Burton, a long-time fan of the gimmicky mascot gambit: "'Slick Rich,' whose pants have deep pockets and car has a bumper sticker that reads 'I brake for Halliburton,' will trail Vice President Cheney at all of his campaign events for Republican congressional incumbents or candidates. He is the personification of a party bought and paid for by the GOP (gas, oil and petroleum interests). 'Slick Rich' begins his effort today in Ohio where Dick Cheney is campaigning for Craig Foltin."
On the same day that the President will call for using the National Guard on the border, the Vice President plans to deliver remarks at a rally for the Minnesota National Guard in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
Today is the last day to sign up for the Medicare prescription drug benefit without paying higher premiums later on. Registration ends tonight at midnight. First Lady Laura Bush participates in a Medicare enrollment event at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, DC.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman attend a fundraiser for McCain's Straight Talk America PAC in Dallas, TX.
DNC Chairman Howard Dean appears on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" at 11:00 pm ET on Comedy Central.
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) raises money for his Progressive Patriots fund in New York City.
Former Gov. Mark Warner (D-VA) delivers the commencement address at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC.
RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman addresses the International Democrat Union (closed press) meeting in Washington, DC.
The third annual "Personal Democracy Forum" on politics, technology, and the blogosphere convenes from 9:00 am - 6:00 pm ET at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Eliot Spitzer delivers the keynote address at 11:15 am ET followed by a Q&A session moderated by ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin.
The Council on Foreign Relations holds a 6:30 pm ET discussion with Sen. John Warner (R-VA) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) on "Iraq: The Way Forward."
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace holds a discussion, "Curing the Oil Addiction: Ptropolitics and the Threat to Global Security." Participants include Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN), Tom Friedman of the New York Times, and Moises Nam of Foreign Policy magazine.
Politics of immigration:
The New York Times' Jim Rutenberg writes up President Bush's assurance to President Fox of Mexico that he does not plan to militarize the border, but simply to temporarily use National Guard troops to bolster border security while more border agents get trained. LINK
The Washington Post's Peter Baker writes that the National Guard idea has "further stirred an already volatile debate. LINK
From Bloomberg News' Nicholas Johnston: "'He's trying to convince skeptical Republicans that the administration is really serious about immigration enforcement,' said Frank Sharry, executive director of the Washington-based National Immigration Forum, a group that backs a guest-worker plan. Increased border enforcement may 'provide some political cover and comfort to reluctant Republicans in the House and Senate,' he said." LINK
Per USA Today, National Security adviser Stephen Hadley said on Sunday that Bush's plan will call for National Guard troops who will help Border Patrol agents with intelligence and training rather than militarize the border. LINK
Hadley also said that sending out National Guards and spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build a security fence along the Mexican border are two of several options that the White House is considering, writes Boston Globe's Diedtra Henderson. LINK
Reuters Notes that with the timing of a resumed Senate debate on immigration reform, Bush's speech also comes as the President's job approval ratings drop to around 30 percent. LINK
The Los Angeles Times: LINK
The Washington Post's Darryl Fears reports that the newly formed network of groups that organized demonstrations for illegal immigrants is "conference calling, brainstorming and consolidating its forces so that it can respond to the government with a unified voice." LINK
Politics of Medicare:
The New York Times on today's enrollment deadline for Medicare Part D and possible bipartisan momentum (as the November election approaches) to waive a late enrollment penalty should there be many people "who failed to enroll want to do so." LINK
The Washington Post's Dan Eggen writes that Bush Administration officials have been "punctilious" in discussing the NSA program over the past five months, "parsing their words with care and limiting comments to the portion of the program that had been confirmed by the president in December." LINK
A USA Today/Gallup Poll found a majority of Americans disapprove of the National Security Agency's database of phone records. Of 809 adults surveyed, 51% said they disapproved of the program, and 43% approved. USA Today's results vary from the ABC News/Washington Post poll released last week that showed 63% of Americans said the program was an acceptable way for the government to investigate terrorism. The difference in poll results could be attributed to the way in which the questions were phrased, the difference in time between when the story broke and the questions were asked, and the number of respondents polled. LINK
Per ABC News polling director Gary Langer, "These different results tell us a lot about how compelling the competing interests are. The main differences I see between this and Newsweek, vs. ours, are that we first asked about the broader investigation-vs.-privacy issue, and we laid out much more specifically the rationale for the program (to analyze call patterns in an effort to identify terrorism suspects). When these competing, positive interests are at stake, language and information matter - a fact that will surely play itself out as the debate progresses.
The New York Times wraps the Sunday morning chatter on the NSA surveillance programs leading with Stephen Hadley's strong defense of the programs and their legality. LINK
The Los Angeles Times on the same. LINK
Two Cheney stories from the weekend you should read, if you missed them.
The New York Times Sunday story on Vice President Cheney's alleged push for (and Gen. Hayden's reluctance) expanded eavesdropping after the 9/11 attacks: LINK
Michael Isikoff of Newsweek offered up a Saturday web exclusive on a Patrick Fitzgerald filing in the Libby case of Cheney's annotated copy of Joe Wilson's 2003 New York Times op-ed. LINK
The New York Post writes up First Lady Laura Bush's desire to not use same-sex marriage as a campaign tool and her sketicism about poll numbers. LINK
Jeffrey Birnbaum reports on the front page of the Washington Post with elegant belatedness that controversy over Rep. Alan Mollohan's (D-WVA) "blending of commerce and legislation has triggered a federal probe, cost Mollohan his position on the House ethics committee and undermined the Democrats' effort to portray the GOP as the party of corruption because of the Jack Abramoff scandal. LINK
Per Roll Call's Bresnahan: "Federal prosecutors are seeking to interview at least nine current or former staffers on the House Intelligence, Appropriations and Armed Services committees as they widen their probe into the bribery scheme involving former Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.), according to House officials."
The Los Angeles Times looks at Rep. Ken Calvert's (R-CA) real estate investments in the context of infrastructure projects he earmarked in spending bills. LINK
On Sunday, the New York Times looked at the Homeland Security dollars that have poured into Rep. Harold Rogers' (R-KY) district. LINK
The Wall Street Journal's ed board applauds the Treasury Secretary for not branding China a currency manipulator and criticizes Sen. Schumer and "his running mate," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), for demanding a vote on their "Son of Smoot-Hawley tariff proposal for 27.5% levies on Chinese goods."
The Tony Snow era:
The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz profiles ex-newsman Tony Snow in advance of his first televised briefing at some point this week. LINK
"From immigration policy to energy to emergency spending, House Republican leaders are publicly breaking rank with their counterparts in the Senate, fearing that Senate efforts at compromise are jeopardizing the party's standing with conservative voters," reports the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman, in what is almost a must read. LINK
Keying off of Dr. James Dobson's "fact-finding" trip to Washington to assess how Republicans are moving forward with the legislative initiatives most important to "values voters," the New York Times' Kirkpatrick reports on the vocal -- both public and private -- discontent with the Republican leadership in Washington among Christian conservative leaders who, perhaps, feel a bit underappreciated after their successful efforts in 2004. LINK
Note, as always, the Norquist quotes.
Ben Pershing of Roll Call reports that the GOP leadership is preparing a package of "pro-family" legislation that will be unveiled later this year.
The San Francisco Chronicle's Marc Sandalow reveals that with hardly 40 days left for the 109th Congress to effect change, the GOP are scrambling to pass legislative achievements in order to try to maintain their majority in November. LINK
Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) expects his Democratic opponent to get on the primary ballot by securing 30-35 percent of the delegate votes at the state party convention on Saturday, reports the Hartford Courant. LINK
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that with State Treasurer Bob Casey Jr.'s challengers receiving only single-digit support in polls, Casey does not plan to attack with his own ads. LINK
The New York Times' Hernandez writes Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY) "finds himself in the political battle of his life. . . " LINK
The AP previews the tough spot Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D-OR) finds himself in in advance of tomorrow's primary, and the much tougher spot in which he could find himself in November. LINK
David Steves of the Register-Guard revealed in Sunday's article the aggressive negative ad campaigning from outside groups in Oregon's race for governor. LINK
Per the AP's Brad Cain, Gov. Ted Kulongoski's faces two Democratic rivals -- Jim Hill and Pete Sorensen -- amid poor ratings and his own allies who have said his performance has been disappointing. LINK
The Schwarzenegger Era:
The AP's Michael Blood reported over the weekend on Gov. Schwarzenegger taking heat for his out-of-state trips, where the Governor on average takes a road trip nearly every fifth day he's been in office. LINK
2006: New Orleans:
Frank Donze of the Times-Picayune wrote over the weekend that white voters may be the key to winning the mayoral runoff and that analysts give Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu an edge over New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. LINK
Bloomberg's Roger Simon -- becoming Tucker Carlson, Jay Carney, and Bill Kristol all rolled into one -- has a McCain interview in which the Senator responds to the perception of going to Liberty University to help heal any remaining wounds from 2000 and in search of possible support in 2008. LINK
". . .does McCain worry that, as he prepares for a new presidential run, he will betray his positions to achieve victory? `No, no, that would be a hollow victory,' he said in an interview. `My strength is my credibility. It is as simple as that,'" writes Simon.
Adam Nagourney of the New York Times wrote up Sen. McCain's Liberty University commencement address for Sunday editions including McCain's strong defense for the Iraq war and his inner blogger. LINK
The AP's Ron Fournier hits the (Virginia) trail with Sen. Allen and takes a look at his less-smooth-than-expected reelection battle this year that will keep him closer to home than to Des Moines or Manchester. LINK
In an interview on "Meet the Press," Newt Gingrich underplayed a run for the presidency in 2008, expressing doubts but not ruling out the idea, Notes USA Today. LINK
Boston Herald's Kevin Rothstein reveals an exclusive high tech poll over the weekend where voters gave Mitt Romney relatively high ratings for his looks and likeability but ranked Romney low for honesty, conviction and uniqueness.
Burnishing E.J. Dionne's credentials as a prognosticator, Peter Wallsten had Bush-turned-McCain strategist Mark McKinnon saying in Sunday's Los Angeles Times: "Jeb Bush will be on anyone's short list. He's got incredible experience, unqualified conservative credentials, and he brings Florida. It's the trifecta." LINK
Stuart Rothenberg's op-ed in Roll Call weighs in on the electability of Democratic presidential contenders John Edwards, Mark Warner, and Evan Bayh, all of whom are positioning themselves to be the alternative-to-Clinton candidate.
Chelsea Clinton was none too pleased with her mother's recent comments about a sense of entitlement and poor work ethic among many young people. Sen. Clinton revised and extended her remarks in a Sunday commencement address, "'I said [to my daughter], 'I'm sorry, I didn't mean to convey the impression that you don't work hard,' Mrs. Clinton continued. 'I just want to set the bar high, because we are in a competition for the future.'" LINK
The AP on Sen. Clinton's mea culpa to her daughter. LINK
The New York Post runs the AP write-up of Newt Gingrich calling Sen. Clinton a "formidable" presidential candidate. LINK
Ben Smith of the New York Daily News sized up the voting records of the two 2008 frontrunners and discovered that Sen. Clinton has voted more in line with Rupert Murdoch's interests than has Sen. McCain. LINK
Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times writes up Rep. Patrick Kennedy's (D-RI) "decision" to go public with his addiction. LINK
Supporters and foes of Proposition 82, California's universal preschool initiative, are launching a multimillion-dollar ad blitz that they hope will sway voters before they go to the polls on June 6. LINK
Union Leader's John Distaso revealed that while former RNC regional director James Tobin will be sentenced Wednesday, Rep. Conyers (D-MI) requested Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez investigate White House involvements of the GOP's 2002 phone jamming scheme. LINK
House of Labor:
The Washington Post's Dale Russakoff profiles UAW's Gettelfinger's effort to navigage job cuts and concessions.
On Tuesday, Kentucky, Oregon, and Pennsylvania hold their primary elections. President Bush meets with the Prime Minister of Australia and holds a joint press availability. DNC Chairman Howard Dean attends a fundraiser for the New York Democratic Lawyers Council at the Yale Club in New York City. And Sen. McCain delivers Columbia's College Class Day address in New York City.
On Wednesday, President Bush signs the HR 4297, the Tax Relief Extension Reconciliation Act. He also attends the RNC's gala.
On Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee holds a hearing on the nomination of Gen. Michael Hayden to be director of the CIA.
On Friday, President Bush makes remarks on the American Competitiveness Initiative in Highland Heights, KY. He also raises money for the congressional campaigns of Rep. Thelma Drake (R-VA) and Geoff Davis. And four of the five major candidates for governor of Massachusetts debate in Cambridge, MA. Gov. Romney addresses the Wisconsin GOP Convention in Appleton, WI. Sen. McCain delivers the commencement address at the New School in New York City.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Gov. Janet Napolitano (D-AZ) headline the Arizona Democratic Party 2006 Heritage Dinner in Phoenix, AZ. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) keynotes the Polk County Spring Fundraiser in Des Moines, IA. Friday is also the deadline for Democratic National Convention host city proposals to be submitted to the DNC.
On Saturday, New Orleans holds its mayoral runoff election. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and Rep. Ted Strickland (D-OH) participate in an Ohio Democratic Party rally to "Take Back Ohio" in Toledo, OH. Sen. Kerry will be the commencement speaker at Kenyon College in Gambier, OH. Gen. Wesley Clark delivers the 200th commencement speech at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. First Lady Laura Bush delivers the commencement address at Roger Williams College in Bristol, RI. Sen. Bayh (D-IN) is in Iowa helping local candidates raise money in Osceola, Council Bluffs, and Sioux City, IA. Sen. McCain attends a fundraising lunch for Rep. Sweeney and Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE). And the Connecticut Democratic Party holds its convention.
On Sunday, Sen. Clinton delivers the commencement speech at Genessee Community College in Batavia, NY. Sen. McCain (R-AZ) raises money for gubernatorial candidate Dave Emery in South Portland, ME. Sen. Bayh (D-IN) gives the commencement speech at Depauw University in Greencastle, IN. And the President's parents, former President George H.W. Bush and Mrs. Barbara Bush, serve as GW's commencement speakers.