WASHINGTON, June 21
The Note never likes to do anything that might contribute to an environment in which politicians are automatically presumed to be acting out of electoral motives and ambitions. We're with Mookie, regarding doing the right thing. LINK
So we only gingerly enter into the waiting minefield as we write: the outcome of the 2006 midterm election is likely being determined in the next 48 hours -- not so much on the floor of the Senate as in how the two parties spin, shape, and echo what happens on that floor.
Democrats can deny it all they want (and not all do. . .), but they are on the precipice of self-immolating over the issue that has most crippled the Bush presidency and of making facts on the ground virtually meaningless. In other words, they are on the precipice of making Iraq a 2006 political winner for the Republican Party.
We write with elliptical certainty and precision that Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, and Ken Mehlman share the exact same view of Chris Dodd's eyebrow. (If you don't know what that means, get thyself to the day's only true must read -- Kate Zernike's extended imitation of Mark Leibovich on the front page of the New York Times on how Sen. Kerry is doing with his colleagues on Iraq. LINK
If you want to know what makes Mehlman laugh besides the Zernike story and Dodd's eyebrow, read Joseph Williams of the Boston Globe, who examines the term "cut and run," and how it is being used by the GOP as a linguistic weapon against Democrats in the Iraq war debate. LINK
If the Democrats can't make cable TV bookers and Washington assignment editors feel there is a dime's worth of difference between something called "Levin" and something called "Kerry," our guess is that the American people won't see much of a difference between those options when they pull their levers (or punch their chads, or whatever) come November. Remember our rule from yesterday, which we paraphrase here: if you have to deny your non-binding resolution amounts to "cut and run," you are losing the battle (and the war -- but not that war).
The slow motion car crash begins, sometime after 11:00 am ET, when Sen. Levin is expected to bring up his amendment on Iraq with up to five hours of debate to follow. Then Sen. Kerry will likely offer his amendment on Iraq with debate to follow.
Watch the floor debate, sure, but keep a closer eye on the network news at 6:30 pm ET, the packages done for the network affiliate news services that will air on late local news, and tomorrow's USA Today coverage.
On ground that Democrats hope will be less of a funhouse mirage, the Senate is expected to vote on Sen. Kennedy's minimum wage amendment at 11:00 am ET with debate beginning at 9:30 am ET. His plan would raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 over three years. (Here's one of the Democrats favorite talking points you will likely here in the debate: In the nine years since the last increase in the federal minimum wage, Congress has raised its own pay by $31,600.)
The Senate will also have the chance to vote on the alternative Enzi amendment, which you can Google if you wish to.