The Note: Condemned to Repeat

WASHINGTON, June 23

The Note only looks backward in order to learn for the purposes of looking forward. Thus, what we collectively learned this week that has stark applicability to 2006 and 2008:

1. The Democrats' Iraq policy is NOT "cut and run" (Reed and Kerry), NOT "irresponsible" or "unpatriotic" (Reid), and NOT based on "political considerations," (Feingold).

2. The elapsed time for pregnant pause between the question being asked and the non-responsive response being given is exactly the same for when one asks Joe Biden about John Kerry on Iraq and one asks Congressman Rahm about Chairman Dean on, uhm, anything.

3. Senator Kerry remains as cagey a political analyst as ever, with quotes like this to the Boston Globe: "But Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, called the support for his amendment `terrific,' pointing out that the bill drew more than twice as many votes as a slightly different version of his proposal introduced last week. `Our numbers are growing, and our ability to apply constant pressure to change course is stronger than it was just a week ago,' Kerry said after the vote."

4. The Republicans are resigned to trying to trick the base with dog-and-pony hearings on immigration and to responsibly deal with the matter in a lame-duck session.

5. There will be moments between now and this November in which scary national security developments will occur, and no one should be Surprised if some of these moments occur in October. As in: LATE October.

6. Not even a little bit of jet lag can keep the President from his baseball. At 1:20 pm ET, President Bush attends the White House Tee Ball game on the South Lawn -- the first weekday game of its kind at 1600. The New Jersey McGuire Air Force Base team from New Jersey takes on the New London, Connecticut Naval Submarine Base team.

Press Secretary Tony Snow briefs the White House press corps at 11:00 am ET. Attorney General Gonzales holds a 10:30 am ET news conference on the Miami terror arrests.

At 2:00 pm ET, FBI Director Robert Mueller delivers an address on domestic terrorism to the City Club of Cleveland and is expected to address the news of day too.

Vice President Cheney is in Chicago, IL today. He addresses the Chicago Mercantile Exchange at 11:45 am ET and then headlines a fundraiser for congressional candidate David McSweeney at 1:30 pm ET. Here's more on the trip from the Chicago Tribune: LINK

DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff participates in a 10:00 am ET panel sponsored by the Heritage Foundation: "'24' and America's Image in Fighting Terrorism: Fact, Fiction or Does it Matter?" The three "24" cast members who are expected to participate: Mary Lynn Rajskub (Chloe O'Brian), Carlos Bernard (Tony Almeida), and Gregory Itzin (President Charles Logan). Rush Limbaugh takes the day off from the radio show to moderate.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) was scheduled to address the NDN 2006 annual meeting at 9:00 am ET.

Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) rounds out the '08er appearances at NDN with his 11:00 am ET remarks.

Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) is in Philadelphia, PA today where he discusses US-Russia relations at 11:15 am ET and holds a media availability following his speech.

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) tours damage caused by Hurricane Katrina with Sen. Landrieu (D-LA) in his first trip to New Orleans since the storm.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) speaks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, CA at 8:30 pm ET as a part of "The Reagan Forum" speech series there. Prior to the speech, Sen. McCain holds a media availability at 6:00 pm ET.

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) attends a closed-press fundraiser for Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) at 5:30 pm ET in Charleston, SC.

Gov. Pataki (R-NY) holds a 10:00 am ET media availability in the Red Room at the State Capitol in Albany, NY. (Happy day before your birthday, Governor.)

The DNC convention site selection committee continues its two-day visit to Denver, CO. Next week the committee visits Minneapolis, MN.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) plans to take to the Senate floor at 11:30 am ET to speak about the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court's controversial Kelo v. New London property rights case.

Tune into the "This Week All Week" webcast to see ABC News' George Stephanopoulos and Sam Donaldson hash through the winners and losers of the Iraq war debate in the Senate this week. You'll also find out which '08 candidate ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin says took a step forward in his presidential campaign this week. You can catch the best political webcast, right here: LINK

Be sure to check your local listings (due to World Cup soccer schedule changes) to catch "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" as George whips it up with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) on Iraq, the 2006 landscape, and more. And outgoing Harvard University president Larry Summers talks exclusively to George about his controversial tenure at one of America's premiere higher learning institutions.

President and Mrs. Bush attend the Ford's Theater Gala on Sunday evening at 7:00 pm ET.

Sen. Hillary Clinton kicks off "Women for Rendell" with Gov. Rendell in Narberth, PA tomorrow.

Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) hosts his 30th annual "Ice Cream Social" on Sunday in Ohio. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and challenger Tom Kean, Jr. (R-NJ) square-off in their first debate of the season on Sunday in the Garden State.

Don't miss Bloomberg television's "Political Capital" this weekend when Al Hunt interviews John McCain on the economy, taxes, spending, corporate responsibility, and immigration.

Bank records:

Eric Lichtblau and James Risen's must-read in the New York Times details the Swift program (aka the secret-no-longer program of the CIA and Treasury Department) which granted the Bush Administration access to the financial records and bank records of thousands of Americans. LINK

The Washington Post reports that the Bush Administration has "secretly been taping into a vast global database of confidential financial transactions for nearly five years, according to US government and industry officials." LINK

"The president is concerned that once again The New York Times has chosen to expose a classified program that is working to protect our citizens," says a White House spokesman, per Jake Tapper's blog on the topic. LINK

Politics of Iraq:

On the fact that John Kerry's amendment only received 13 'yes' votes, Sen. Biden told NBC's Matt Lauer, "Well, that's the point. We don't agree with John Kerry."

Biden said he didn't know if Sen. Kerry's amendment hurt the Democratic Party. "But it is a great political show, but it's not helping our guys and women. . . in Baghdad," he added. Biden declared assessing the political ramifications of the Iraq war votes yesterday as above his pay grade. "I just know what I think the right thing to do is. The right thing to do is not to set a date," said Biden.

"At crucial moments over the past three-plus years, American politicians and American voters have been forced to pass judgment on the war in Iraq - not by pollsters asking a tiny fraction of them how they feel, but through actual votes, either in Congress or at the ballot box. And every time they are asked to pass judgment, they have chosen to wage it, to validate the politicians who supported it, to pay for it and to continue it," writes John Podhoretz of the New York Post in a must-read column. LINK

After an intense and emotional 12-hour debate, the Senate rejected both Democratic proposals to pull troops out of Iraq, pitting each side of the aisle in a distinct and defined corner of the ring heading into the midterm elections, reports Kate Zernicke of the New York Times. LINK

The Washington Post's Charles Babington sees yesterday's Iraq votes as underscoring "the Democratic constituency's split between staunchly antiwar activists and those who are frustrated but less fervent." LINK

William Roberts of Bloomberg writes, "Once again, it was quagmire versus cut and run." LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Reynolds on yesterday's votes: LINK

Amy Fagan's Washington Times story includes Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) accusing Democrats of "just looking for a political opening and I think they really messed up" and concluded, "This was a good week for Republicans." LINK

Liz Sidoti of the AP looks at the '08 angle. Sidoti writes, "Republican senators weighing a 2008 presidential bid united behind President Bush's Iraq policy, while potential Democratic candidates favored troop withdrawals but split over a deadline for ending the U.S. military's combat presence." LINK

The Washington Post's Walter Pincus reports that assertions by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) that a new intelligence study proves that chemical weapons were found in Iraq has triggered "sharp criticism from Democrats that the GOP is distorting intelligence for political purposes." LINK

Note well Pincus' blind quotes from intel sources pouring some rain on the Santorum-Hoekstra thesis. More from the Philadelphia Inquirer: LINK

Although a down-in-the-polls Santorum said yesterday, "We now have found stockpiles," David Kay, who headed the U.S. weapons team in Iraq from 2003 until early 2004, told the Associated Press, "[The weapons are] less toxic than most things that Americans have under their kitchen sink at this point." LINK

The Abramoff affair:

The Washington Post's Susan Schmidt reports that Rep. Ney's (R-OH) comments to the Senate Indian Affairs panel "could add to his problems with the Justice Department." LINK

She also reports that the panel's report includes "new details about some of Abramoff's activities, including his collaboration with former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed and conservative strategist Grover Norquist. The Senate report recommended that the Senate Finance Committee investigate the use of tax-exempt organizations 'as extensions of for-profit lobbying operations.'"

The AP's Mark Sherman reports that the Senate Indian Affairs Committee concluded that existing laws on the books are adequate to deal with "the sort of massive fraud perpetrated by lobbyist Jack Abramoff." Sherman also Notes that the federal investigation into Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) moves onward. LINK

Estate tax politics:

The Wall Street Journal's Brody Mullins reports that yesterday's estate-tax vote effectively ends GOP efforts to permanently repeal the tax altogether while putting pressure "on a handful of Democrats in the Senate to back a compromise that would tax roughly one of every 640 deaths each year."

Bloomberg News' Jay Newton-Small and Ryan J. Donmoyer report that Senators will consider the estate tax compromise before leaving for the Independence Day recess at the end of next week. LINK

The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman reports that the House approved a "deep, permanent tax cut on large, inherited estates that would cost the treasury hundreds of billions of dollars" before burnishing its reputation for fiscal discipline by "granting the president power to rescind pet projects from spending legislation." LINK

". . . Democrats mocked the Republicans' legislative choreography and portrayed the line-item veto measure as political cover for excessively costly tax legislation that would largely benefit the wealthiest Americans."

Politics of immigration:

In a must-read, the Wall Street Journal's ed board cuts against the grain and slams House Republicans (whom the newspaper labels Tancredo Republicans) for deciding to hold an immigration road show instead of solving the problem that they have spent the last year building into a crisis.

"Looking at House Republicans who are vulnerable this year, we can't find a single one who will lose because of support for President Bush's comprehensive immigration reform. . . . What might well cost all of them their seats is the growing perception that this Congress hasn't achieved much of anything."

(And be sure to Note the Journal's analysis of the results of CA-50: ". . . all that election really proved is that a GOP Beltway lobbyist could keep a seat in a 60% Republican district so long as he outspent an opponent who committed the final-week gaffe of encouraging immigrants to vote illegally").

Dan Gilgoff of US News has a "Republican strategist close to the House" saying that the GOP's immigration hearings "gambit" was born "largely of meetings between" NRCC honcho Tom Reynolds and "dozens of Republican congressmen locked in competitive races this fall. Over a series of monthly meetings, the vulnerable members told Reynolds that they 'could not swallow' the immigration bill that had passed the Senate because anything less than the House's enforcement-only measure 'would be considered weakness.'" LINK

". . . instead of watching lawmakers negotiate a final version of immigration legislation, Americans will see dueling efforts by House and Senate members to promote radically different visions of immigration policy," write Nicole Gaouette and Faye Fiore of the Los Angeles Times. LINK

The White House Office of Strategic Initiatives clearly wants to help inform the public about public opinion on immigration as the House and Senate set out for their competing summer hearings. In a release blasted to reporters this morning, the White House cites the latest Tarrance Group polling on immigration reform showing 75 percent of Republican voters favoring a comprehensive approach including heightened border security as well as a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here.

The House hearings are scheduled to take place in California, Arizona, and Texas and set to occur beginning July 5. LINK

The Washington Post's ed board chides Republicans for branding the Senate immigration package as a "liberal 'Kennedy bill' while promising to run against it in the coming midterm elections." LINK

The newspaper warns that if the leftist Andrew Manuel Lopez Obrador wins Mexico's presidential election, the flow of Mexican arrivals in the United States could accelerate and the consequences in Congress "would not be pretty."

In his Boston Globe column, Scot Lehigh Notes his frustration with immigration reform in an election year. LINK

VPOTUS:

Vice President Cheney told CNN's John King that he "may be called as a witness" in the trial of his former Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, "one of the finest men I've ever known." AP reports. LINK

And there was that intriguing "We may get involved eventually," line Cheney had on the 2008 presidential race that caused our ears to perk up a bit too.

2006: landscape:

Jake Tapper's most recent blog posting muses about what most Democrats are hoping for -- the sense of a rising Democratic surge and the potential reversal of Republican prominence on the Hill. LINK

The Boston Globe Notes the evolving technology available to political campaigns. LINK

2006: Senate:

Clearly the Clintons of Chappaqua rule about not looking to the next race before focusing on the one at hand does not apply to KT McFarland and her senior strategist. Check out these quotes on why she is running -- from a visit to Cindy Adams' (interesting communications strategy, that) kitchen, where Ms. McFarland ate nothing. It's a must-read: LINK

"Ed Rollins: 'New York's GOP needs rebuilding. It's in ashes. She's a natural. They'll pay attention because it's Hillary, so KT gets her name out there and positions herself as our next political leader. Or if Spitzer dramatically raises taxes, he could be vulnerable in four years.'"

"KT: 'If Hillary gets elected president, having already run for the Senate, I could do that again. Or, since I've met with 500 GOP leaders around the state, I could run for governor in four years.'"

The Washington Post's hard-working Chris Cillizza writes that Sen. Lieberman "further inflamed his party's liberal base" and "may have further jeopardized his chances of defeating businessman Ned Lamont in the state's Aug. 8 primary" by voting against both the Kerry-Feingold amendment and the "consensus" Reed-Levin amendment which are "designed to limit the scope of the war in Iraq." LINK

2006: Governor:

"Revealing that he received a diagnosis of clinical depression this week, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan bowed out of the race for governor yesterday, a startling move that reshapes this year's contentious gubernatorial campaign" reads the lede in today's Baltimore Sun. The move spared the need of a Democratic primary, which could have depleted Duncan's cash. LINK

The Washington Post's Matthew Mosk and Ann Marimow write that Duncan's announcement "instantly transforms Maryland's most high-profile political battle into a sharply focused duel." LINK

The Washington Post's Susan Levine reports that Duncan's decision and public disclosure "elicited praise from mental health experts and advocates." LINK

The newspaper's ed board praises Duncan for possessing a "streak of uncommon courage." LINK

In the newspaper's Style section, Neely Tucker writes that "much has changed about the stigma around mental illness, mood disorders and their role in American politics since" Tom "Eagleton was dumped from the vice presidential spot on the 1972 ballot after it was learned he had undergone electroconvulsive therapy." LINK

More from the Washington Times: LINK

The Houston Chronicle reports that the Texas governor's race has expanded to five candidates with the official announcement that independent candidates Carole Keeton Strayhorn and Kinky Friedman will appear on the November ballot. LINK

(Note how the independent candidacies give network tv producers the opportunity to hang on to that Sam Houston research they pulled and didn't think they would need after Bill Weld dropped out of the New York governor's race.)

The Columbus Dispatch's Niquette reports that state Democrats are demanding that GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell and Sen. George Voinovich relinquish campaign contributions from two brokers indicted on charges of corruption. Both politicians have said they wont return the funds. LINK

Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) charges local lawmakers with "futzing" over same-sex marriage reports James O'Toole of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. LINK

2006: House:

US News & World Report's Silla Brush wisely checks in with Democratic House challengers and discovers Tammy Duckworth, Baron Hill, Ron Klein, and Mary Jo Kilroy all say they would have voted with the Republicans on the Iraq resolution that was before the House last week. LINK

Charles Hurt of the Washington Times reports that five-time incumbent Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) is having a hard time convincing constituents that he's not soft on immigration in one of the Reddest of Red districts in the country. Cannon is taking heat from the right and running neck and neck with John Jacob, who he'll face in Tuesday's primary. LINK

2008: conventions:

"The Republican National Committee's site selection committee is slated to visit Tampa on Aug. 20-22," reports the Bradenton Herald. LINK

The Rocky Mountain News Notes the potential labor issues that would have to be resolved for Denver to become the DNC's host city in 2008. LINK

"'Denver is like a beautiful woman,' [Denver mayor John] Hickenlooper said. 'It's a woman that doesn't need to be dressed up, doesn't need a lot of makeup. We just have to make sure that these people in charge of making the selection know how beautiful a city this is.'" LINK

(Don't miss the key Wally Podrazik photo!)

2008: Democrats: the nomination calendar:

The DNC Rules and Bylaws committee voted yesterday to add one caucus between Iowa and New Hampshire and one primary between New Hampshire and the opening of the window.

In the face of DNC efforts to push New Hampshire third in the 2008 presidential nominating events lineup, Secretary of State William Gardner assured his state that he would not allowed DNC political posturing to diminish New Hampshire's role in the process, reports John DiStaso of the New Hampshire Union Leader. &LINK

"DNC's New Caucus Plan Riles NH," reads the Boston Globe headline: LINK

"This fight isn't over. In the end, I am confident that New Hampshire and its first-in-the-nation tradition will prevail. The DNC did not give New Hampshire its primary, and it will not take it away," a muscular-sounding Gov. John Lynch (D-NH) said in response to the Rules and Bylaws Committee vote. LINK

South Carolina hopes to be the one primary state added to the pre-window period after New Hampshire, reports The State. LINK

2008: Democrats:

If John Edwards becomes a strong presidential candidate in 2008, historians and strategists will long study the progress he made in 2006, much of it under the normal radar.

In a must-read that gets at a full 65% of the basis of Edwards' forward motion, Bloomberg's Roger Simon has Gordon Fischer, the former chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, saying Edwards has great support in Iowa and that the Edwards' apology on Iraq "made a big difference to Democrats here.'' LINK

In contrast with the "old-style" populism of Kerry and the "cautious middle" approach of former Gov. Warner and Sen. Bayh, Charlie "The Kicker" Cook tells Simon that Edwards is "now offering a hybrid of populism and liberalism that works."

Former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE) (who saw HRC as untouchable a year ago) says if Edwards wins Iowa, "he will be No. 1 in New Hampshire, and the people in New Hampshire are very smart when it comes to presidential politics."

Per Simon, Edwards is planning speeches on energy costs and education to follow yesterday's speech on poverty.

Note well the Big Labor angle too.

Per the Washington Post's Dan Balz, "On a day when the Senate defeated two Democratic amendments aimed at forcing President Bush to begin pulling out of Iraq, Edwards told a National Press Club audience the administration has made a mess in Iraq. He said he favors an immediate withdrawal of 40,000 troops and called for all combat forces to be gone in the next 12 to 18 months." LINK

Barbara Barrett of the Raleigh News & Observer highlights Edwards' comments on Iraq too. LINK

Tim Funk's coverage of the Edwards speech gets some space in The State in South Carolina - not unimportant, that. LINK

"Democrats thinking hard about a White House bid warned party activists on Thursday that a viable 2008 nominee must be able to relate to middle-class voters on faith, national security even NASCAR," writes the AP's Philip Elliott. LINK

2008: Republicans:

The Wall Street Journal's Wirey John Harwood has an aide to Dr./Leader/Sen. Frist saying that the Senate Majority Leader is directing committee chairs to produce energy legislation by July 14 that would make gas gouging a federal crime, give the Administration authority to overhaul autos' fuel-efficiency standards, and provide tax incentives for renewable energy. What's not on the agenda? ANWR drilling. "'We're going to look at . . . what we can pass on the floor,' an aide says." The Journal Notes that the push for Paulson's Treasury confirmation may keep the Senate Finance Committee from hitting Frist's target date.

Even though Rudy Giuliani's PAC describes its mission as "helping to elect Republican candidates dedicated to finding responsible, common sense solutions," the New York Daily News reports that the only outside contribution the PAC made in May was a small donation to Jeff Lamberti's (R-IA) campaign for Congress. The rest? To Rudy's staffers, consultants, planes, speeches, and dinners. LINK

The New York Post's Dicker on patronage, Pataki-style: LINK

Russell Nichols of the Boston Globe reports Gov. Romney is expected to reject a bill sent to him yesterday by the legislature that would legalize over-the-counter purchases of hypodermic needles. LINK

2008: the New York angle:

Forty-nine percent of New York state registered voters say Sen. Clinton would be a "good" or "great" president. Another 49 percent say she would be "so-so" or "bad," according to a Quinnipiac University poll released this morning.

Rudy Giuliani scored better among his fellow Empire State residents. Sixty-one percent of respondents say the former New York City mayor would be a "good" or "great" president, compared to 38 percent who give him a "so-so" or "bad" rating.

Gov. Pataki rates poorly. Only 25 percent of New Yorkers polled say he would make a "good" or "great" president, while a whopping 75 percent predict he would be "so-so" or "bad."

Al Gore:

On ABC News' "Good Morning America," former Vice President Al Gore continued his media blitz for "An Inconvenient Truth," now buoyed by a National Academy of Sciences report that says the Earth is hotter than any point in the last 2,000 years. Gore of course continued to deny any intention of running for president, and said that he will focus his time on convincing the American people about the urgent need for change. "Politicians will not have the spine to face [global warming] unless the people demand this," he said.

Transitions:

BREAKING NEWS ALERT:

On July 16 (a Sunday, naturally), Andrea Jones will start as the new Executive Director of Media Relations for ABC News in Washington, DC. She will oversee the public relations for Nightline (making frequent trips to Gotham City), This Week, and ABC News' powerhouse DC bureau. Jones comes to ABC News from Sen. John McCain's office where she has served as press secretary since March 2003. Born into politics, Jones has an impressive resume for someone so young. She was assistant campaign manager for the Simon for Governor bid in California in 2002, state field director for Bill Jones in 2001, campaign manager for Campbell for Senate in 2000, and was John McCain's national youth coordinator in 1999 and 2000. Jones will report to ABC News Vice President Jeffrey Schneider and his powerful lieutenant, the incomparable Cathie Levine.

Welcome aboard, Andrea. (Note to Andrea: we always capitalize the "T," in "The Note," even in press releases.)

Mayor Menino's brainy and savvy press secretary Seth Gitell is leaving City Hall at the end of the month. Seth plans to get back to writing by first working on a piece for the Atlantic Monthly about his father. We wish Seth the very best in his future endeavors and offer him our congratulations. LINK and LINK

(Note how Seth stayed on Menino's "neighborhoods" message even in his exit interview with the Boston Herald: "I love the mayor. You can't help but to learn more about every neighborhood in this city when you are around him.")