WASHINGTON, May 23
What if, as patriots Chuck Schumer and Rahm Emanuel hope, things are better in Iraq by Election Day than they are now?
What if in Iraq the American troop level dips below 100,000, the government is stood up, more military and police are trained, and violence subsides -- and at home, President Bush's poll numbers improve, and even right track/wrong track turns around a bit?
Republicans seeking election or re-election to Congress certainly hope all that happens. But isn't it possible that a Democratic Party badly divided over Iraq and still looking to go from being the Mommy Party to the Hermaphrodite Party could benefit too?
If Iraq was moving off the front burner, couldn't Democrats focus on other issues that unite them and on which they are in sync with the American people?
As is always the case with the out-of-power party, Democrats have to root root root for bad news. And no bad news source is better for the Democrats' election prospects than the bad news from Iraq. President Bush and Karl Rove have both played public political pundit in the last few weeks to ostentatiously (and not accidentally) make that point.
A cynic might suggest that the White House has planned all along to make 2006 a year of significant progress in Iraq, regardless of the facts on the ground. But as Michael Barone and Steve Doocy explained on "Fox & Friends" this morning, things are much better in Iraq than Matt Lauer or Wolf Blitzer would have you believe.
So, watch closely when President Bush meets with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at 3:10 pm ET in the Oval Office. The theme of the meeting per Tony Snow: LINK, but we bet Iraq comes up at 5:00 pm ET -- with a short turnaround for network evening news programs -- when the two leaders hold a joint press availability in the East Room.
And watch more closely still when President Bush meets with Tony Blair later this week.
Tony Snow gaggles at 9:30 am ET and briefs on-camera at 1:00 pm ET.
Sen. Clinton delivers what is being billed as a "major address on energy policy" at the National Press Club in Washington, DC at 9:00 am ET.
Sen. Clinton will call for reducing American oil consumption by nearly 8 million barrels a day in 2025, an amount which she anticipates will cut in half America's projected imports. She will stress "promoting innovation," "investing in our workers and infrastructure," and "providing American consumers with broader, more responsible choices." To ensure that dedicated funding is available, Sen. Clinton will propose the creation of a "Strategic Energy Fund" to pay for the clean energy transition.
In a prebuttal, the RNC has criticized Sen. Clinton's energy agenda as "Obstruct New Ideas and Repackage Old Ideas."
First Lady Laura Bush delivers remarks at a 100th anniversary of Mesa Verde National Park event in Mesa Verde, CO at 1:45 pm ET.
Vice President Cheney delivers remarks at a rally for Expeditionary Strike Group One in San Diego, CA at 1:40 pm ET. He then headlines a fundraiser for congressional candidate Brian Bilbray (R-CA) who is running in the special election in CA-50 to replace Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-CA) at 3:30 pm ET.
Senate Republicans and Democrats meet separately for their weekly policy luncheons at 12:30 pm ET followed by stakeouts.
The Senate reconvenes at 9:45 am ET and resumes consideration of S2611 -- the immigration bill.
Sen. Sessions (R-AL) hosts a 2:30 pm ET roundtable discussion on economic and numerical impact of the Senate immigration bill. Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) addresses the Heritage Foundation at noon ET on "building a principled consensus" for immigration reform.
The Senate Intelligence Committee plans to vote on the nomination of Gen Michael Hayden to become the next CIA director in a closed session.
Gov. Schwarzenegger (R-CA) addresses more than 1,100 new citizens from 101 countries at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service's naturalization ceremony in San Francisco, CA.
House Majority Leader Rep. Boehner (R-OH) holds a 11:30 am ET pen and pad briefing with reporters.
Newt Gingrich delivers a couple of speeches in Washington, DC today before heading to Reading, PA where he participates in a joint presentation with James Carville to the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce at 7:00 PM ET.
At 10:15 am ET in Des Moines, IA, Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) signs legislation that will "redesign the state's mental health system and empower patients to make their own decisions regarding appropriate care," per the governor's office.
Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) addresses the New York Conservative Party convention at 4:00 pm ET in New York City.
Republican gubernatorial candidate John Faso announces his "running mate" for lieutenant governor (under state law, the two run separately during the primary) at 1:00 pm ET in New York City.
Democratic Senate candidate Bob Casey delivers a speech to the Pennsylvania Association of Medical Suppliers annual convention in Harrisburg, PA at 9:25 am ET.
The liberal grassroots organization called "Campaign to Defend the Constitution" urges Sen. Frist to bring the stem cell legislation passed by the House last year to the Senate floor for a vote by taking a full page ad in the New York Times depicting Christian conservatives Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and James Dobson as "America's Most Influential Stem Cell Scientists."
Today is a red-letter day for former President Jimmy Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale. They have lived one day longer after leaving office than any other pair. Today marks 25 years and 123 days since Carter and Mondale left office. The only other president/vice president team to last more than 25 years were John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
Today's Republican primary in Idaho's first congressional district (with immigration front and center) and the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor in Arkansas are the Noteworthy races of the day. The AP's Christopher Smith provides this primer: LINK
Arkansas polls open: 8:30 am ET
Arkansas polls close: 8:30 pm ET
You can monitor results on the Arkansas Secretary of State Web site: LINK
Idaho polls open: 10:00 am ET
Idaho polls close: 11:00 pm ET
You can monitor results on the Idaho Secretary of State Web site: LINK
Politics of Iraq:
Per the Washington Post's Peter Baker and Bradley Graham, "British Prime Minister Tony Blair made a surprise visit to Baghdad on Monday and announced that he will fly to Washington to consult with the president Thursday and Friday about the next steps. . . A senior U.S. official told reporters not to expect a 'fixed number' of cuts to emerge from the Bush-Blair meeting." LINK
"Some Democrats insisted they should set a concrete plan for withdrawal. 'Our soldiers have done their job,' said Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), his party's 2004 presidential nominee. 'Now it's time for the Iraqis to do theirs. We must immediately begin working with the new Iraqi government on a schedule for withdrawing American combat forces by the end of this year.'"
In a somewhat insane Boston Globe op-ed, Scot Lehigh writes that Sen. Kerry's new position on Iraq might let him be part new Nixon and part Howard Dean. LINK
In a well-placed Wall Street Journal op-ed, Peter Wehner of the White House's Office of Strategic Initiatives seeks to rebut four commonly made criticisms of the President: (1) that the President misled Americans to convince them to go to war, (2) that the Bush Administration pressured intelligence agencies to bias their judgments, (3) that because weapons of mass destruction were not found, Saddam posed no threat, and (4) promoting democracy in the Middle East is a postwar rationalization.
Iraq's new leaders have vowed to fight corruption, reports the Los Angeles Times. LINK
"President Bush called the creation of a new Iraqi government a 'turning point' and a 'watershed event' yesterday, but conceded that progress in Iraq is slow going, and more pain and loss lies ahead for Americans," reports the New York Daily News. LINK
The Chicago Tribune highlights Sen. Durbin's response to President Bush's speech on Iraq in Chicago yesterday: " 'There was this feeling, some people predicted we would be greeting with parades and flowers in the streets,' he told reporters after Bush's speech. 'Yet it's gone on and on long after the president said our mission was accomplished.' " LINK
Politics of immigration:
In a must-read, the Washington Post's Charles Babington looks at criticism being directed at Speaker Hastert's "majority of the majority" policy and reports that "some GOP strategists predict that a bill will emerge from the House-Senate conference that will win most House Republicans' approval but will draw the opposition of most Senate Democrats and enough Republicans to kill it. Senators know the bill they are handling 'is not going to survive in conference,' said Charles Black, a veteran GOP adviser with close ties to the White House. A measure closer to the House version will emerge, Black predicted, 'and Senate Democrats will kill the conference report. And then who killed immigration reform?'" LINK
According to Time Magazine's Internetist Mike Allen, Rep. Mike Pence's (R-IN) immigration proposal, which encourages illegals to "self-deport" and return legally as guest workers, could gain the President's support in theory and seeks to bridge the chasm between the Senate and the House. LINK
Deb Orin of the New York Post on last night's largely "symbolic" Senate vote in favor of the President's National Guard plan. LINK
The amnesty bill signed into law by President Reagan in 1986 is informing the current immigration debate in congress, reports the New York Times. LINK
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) yesterday proposed an amendment in which illegal aliens who have proof they arrived before this year would have a chance to become a U.S. citizen, per the Washington Times. LINK
Scott Helman of the Boston Globe reports on the Bay State's push to reform illegal immigration by state GOP members. LINK
Dodd jumps in:
David Lightman of the Hartford Courant once again dominates presidential political coverage with his reporting on Sen. Chris Dodd's (D-CT) intentions to begin putting together a potential presidential campaign. LINK
Lightman includes all the appropriate caveats (liberal voting record, tabloid attention-grabbing bachelor days, and hailing from the Northeast), but Dodd and his advisers (Sosnik, DeLauro, Greenberg, etc…) appear full steam ahead.
A national network of long-time supporters are beginning to raise money for Dodd starting today, but his biggest obstacle will be fundraising. After Sen. Clinton, however, Dodd on paper is as strong as most of the others who are considering the race. And Dodd's statement makes him as "declared" as anyone but Sen. Biden and Sen. Bayh.
Welcome to the fray, Senator. Quick: how many direct flights are there a day from Bradley to Manchester? How do you pronounce "Berlin"? And when is Scott Spradling's birthday? LINK
The Clintons of Chappaqua:
Pat Healy of the New York Times writes up the results of some 50 interviews on the subject of the Clinton marriage. Having a Page One New York Times story dedicated to the Clinton marriage won't do much to quell the hand wringing -- so prevalent in the story -- about the relationship's political ramifications. LINK
"Out of the last 73 weekends, they spent 51 together," reports Healy, who also includes a fascinating Carson/Reines joint statement -- the construct of which could be the basis for a senior thesis.
Counter-programming, the New York Post reports that 42 will appear in Buffalo next week when his spouse is re-nominated.
Carl Hulse of the New York Times writes up the allegations against Rep. Jefferson in the context of possibly blunting the Democratic "culture of corruption" message. LINK
Per Roll Call's John Bresnahan and Paul Kane, Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) wrote in an e-mail that the President should "probably fire" whoever gave permission to conduct the FBI raid. The duo also details the Speech or Debate Clause, the law which congressional members from both parties claim has been violated.
The Hill's Josephine Hearn and Patrick O'Connor on the GOP's surprising distress over the raid. LINK
House Speaker Dennis Hastert's full statement: LINK
Bloomberg's Jonathan D. Salant and Laura Litvan Note a bipartisan anger and action towards the DOJ for raiding a Congressional office. LINK
Rick Klein of the Boston Globe Notes that Rep. Jefferson's corruption charges, "highlights the fact that major ethics problems are dogging members of both parties, political observers said yesterday, and complicates the Democrats' plan to make Republican corruption a nationwide issue in this fall's congressional races. LINK
"Lawmaker, Democrats Feel The Chill," reads the humorous Los Angeles Times headline above Faye Fiore's Jefferson story. LINK
The Washington Post's Dana Milbank on the ways in which Jefferson is making life difficult for Democrats who are "hoping to convince voters that it's the Republicans who are corrupt." Milbank plays judge, jury, and reporter in this one. LINK
Per The Hill's Alexander Bolton, "the House ethics probes of Reps. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) and William Jefferson (D-La.) are unlikely to conclude before Election Day, diminishing their political impact, according to experts and a review of past investigations."
The Wall Street Journal reports a former AT&T technician claims the company allowed the NSA to install equipment capable of examining "every individual message" on the Internet.
USA Today has the story that the NSA allegedly used pre-9/11 calls to piece together information about alleged terrorists communicating over the phone. LINK
The Idaho Statesman breaks down today's primary race and the FAQs. LINK
Politics of gas:
Coinciding with Sen. Clinton's energy speech, the RNC is unveiling a new Web video entitled "Democrats Pump Up The Price."
The Web ad alleges that Democrats support a gas tax, a Btu tax, and the Kyoto treaty which, the RNC argues, would have resulted in the average American family paying $955 more per year.
The Web video will be emailed to RNC supporters and will be accompanied by a "Gas Calculator": www.GOP.com/gascalculator The Federal Trade Commission found no price gouging in its investigation into a spike in gas prices last fall, reports the New York Times. LINK
Bush Administration agenda:
The Mercury proudly points out that Bush's Wednesday visit to the Limerick Generating Station in Pottstown, PA will be his first and his second overall visit to a nuclear power plant. LINK
The Boston Globe Notes that Secretary Rice got a luke warm welcome at Boston College's graduation ceremony. LINK
The Wall Street Journal's John Mckinnon Notes that some congressional candidates aren't looking for President Bush to come stump for them in 2006. Running for re- election, Rep Curt Weldon, (R-PA) invited Sen. John McCain over the President. LINK
The Boston Globe's Peter Cannellos pens a must-read article on 2006 Democratic woes in Connecticut, with Sen. Lieberman's rhetorica at cross purposes with the House challengers in three targeted races. LINK
Sen. Lieberman declares himself ready for his primary fight, per the New York Times. LINK
The Des Moines Register reports that a new ad attacks gubernatorial hopeful Mike Blouin's stance on stem-cell research. The ad is the first in a final push by Blouin rival Chet Culver before the June 6th primary. LINK
The Des Moines Register's David Yepsen on his very unspecific sit down with Ed Fallon, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful. LINK
The Chicago Trinbune has Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-IL) winning, at least in the fundraising department. LINK
The Schwarzenegger Era:
The New York Times' Jennifer Steinhauer -- with a lovely San Francisco dateline - sizes up the Westly v. Angelides Democratic primary and reports there is not much difference (other than that raising taxes thing) between the two in a contest that appears to be generating very little interest. LINK
It is this graph on the Schwarzenegger campaign that is most entertaining: "The narrative of Mr. Schwarzenegger's re-election campaign seems to be: I have made some big boo-boos, I am regaining the confidence of voters bipartisan-style, and P.S., I still have more money and fame than any Democrat who wants to bring it on."
Steinhauer does not seem to mention Zabar's or strollers in this piece.
The Los Angeles Times' Finnegan writes of Angelides' scenic push-back on Westly's attempt to tie him to "big oil companies." LINK
Sen. McCain told the Republican Women's breakfast in New Hampshire that the Republican majority in congress is in "jeopardy," the New Hampshire Union Leader reports. McCain also played to the crowd, "On a key local political issue, McCain said Republicans are committed to New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation Presidential primary status. 'Most people in America now pretty well accept that New Hampshire's the place where retail politics is — and its importance in the nation.' " LINK
McCain's call to boycott G-8 summit is not getting a huge following, Notes The Hill. LINK
John Podhoretz makes the case for Rudy Giuliani's 2008 presidential campaign in his New York Post column. LINK
Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) will join Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) at an upcoming fundraiser for the Arkansas GOP, the AP reports. LINK
The Washington Times' Tod Lindberg writes in an op-ed that Sen. Clinton is "well within each of 50 percent of voters" and points to Podhoretz's book for advice on how to trump Clinton. LINK
Just back from a trip to Israel, presidential hopeful Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack tried out his foreign policy at the Grinnell College commencement, the Des Moines Register reports. LINK
Monday was the deadline for cities to submit bids to host the 2008 GOP convention. The RNC received bids from Cleveland, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York City, and Tampa-St. Petersburg.
The RNC's Site Selection Committee will now evaluate the bids and announce finalist cities by July 1. Any city that meets the minimum requirements outlined in the RFP and has a legitimate shot at hosting the convention will be a finalist.
The Site Selection Committee will visit the finalist cities in August and will deliver a recommendation to the RNC in November. The RNC will vote on that recommendation in January 2007.
The New York Daily News writes up New York City's efforts to woo the DNC to New York for its 2008 convention. LINK
Al Gore's red carpet week:
"'An Inconvenient Truth' is lucid, harrowing and bluntly effective," writes the New York Times' Michiko Kakutani in her review of Al Gore's companion book to the film. LINK
The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus worries that the Democrats risk losing their sole while trying to narrow the "God gap." LINK
Politics of same-sex marriage:
The New York Times reports on a group of clergy members organizing a grassroots campaign to defeat the federal marriage amendment scheduled to come up for a vote in the Senate in a couple of weeks. LINK
The Fitzgerald investigation:
The New York Daily News on the two CIA operatives who will serve as witnesses for the prosecution in the Libby case: LINK
The New York Times' Chen has more on the McGreevey book rollout including a post-publication date (September 19) appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show and his official portrait unveiling in New Jersey this summer. LINK