The Note: Getting the Worm

"Slightly less negative views on Iraq have eased George W. Bush's job rating off the political brink, while the lack of a better idea of what to do there is helping to complicate the Democrats' opportunities in this fall's midterm election," writes ABC News Polling Director Gary Langer. LINK

A Washington Post-ABC News poll reveals that about half of Americans polled oppose a deadline getting out of Iraq while 47% now favor some kind of deadline. The deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces is sharply drawn on party lines, where two-thirds of Democrats are in support of one, more than doubling that of the Republicans, per the Post's Dan Balz and Richard Morin. Meanwhile, the President's approval rating, which according to the Post duo is still enough to cause the GOP to fret, is up five points at 38%. LINK

Politics of Iraq: the Casey angle:

"Last week, as the Senate debated the Iraq War and some Democrats again pushed for a timetable for withdrawal, it looked like Democrats were flirting with disaster again, pushing too hard on the 'what next' agenda. Republicans were licking their chops that they might at last be getting the Iraq monkey off their back, and that Iraq and national security might become the asset for the GOP in 2006 that it was in 2002 and 2004, both very successful elections for the GOP," writes Charlie Cook in his Congress Daily/AM column.

"But the New York Times report this past weekend that Army Gen. George W. Casey, Jr., commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, had briefed the Pentagon last week on a plan to reduce the number of brigades in Iraq from level of 14 down to as few as five or six by December 2007 would seem to undercut the GOP argument that Democrats are advocating 'cutting and running,' unless they want to describe Gen. Casey's plan as cutting and running. Who knows what will come next, there never seems to be a dull moment in this 2006 election cycle."

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) is flashing the V-for-Victory sign, citing Gen. Casey's announcement to withdraw American forces as evidence that the Bush Administration has heeded her 72-member "Out of Iraq" caucus's demands to reduce troops. The Hill has more. LINK

Politics of Iraq:

The Wall Street Journal ed board predicts that Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) will remain "obsessed" over linking Douglas Feith to pre-Iraqi war intelligence manipulation through the November elections even though CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden already cleared the record.

Per the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, President Bush met yesterday with Mary Harper, a Florida woman who has witnessed the deployment of six of her family members to Iraq, to thank her as well as 13 others for their efforts to help U.S. troops in Iraq. Harper further reaffirmed President Bush's efforts when she delivered a message she received from an Army sergeant telling the President "not to pull them out of there yet." LINK

The Abramoff affair:

During recent questioning by Senate investigators, Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) claims he did not remember a meeting with members of Texas' Tigua tribe linked with Jack Abramoff in 2002, yet leaders of the tribe remember the meeting and their loss of $4.2 million well and even offer proof of the encounter. Today's Cleveland Plain Dealer has the details. LINK

The economy:

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