WASHINGTON, June 29
As we have written before, quoting Yogi Berra, prediction is difficult, especially about the future.
So we aren't prepared to predict if Republicans will keep control of Congress after the midterms, but we can tell you that the Grand Old Party has followed a different bit of Yogi's advice in improving its prospects to do just that.
"When you reach a fork in the road, take it," the Yankee great said, and under the tripartite leadership of the White House, the Republican National Committee, and Congress, a path has been chosen.
The formula does not guarantee victory, but it looks so much like 2000, 2002, and 2004 that anyone who does not see where this is headed right now is either thick or has lost the capacity to remember:
MOLLIFY THE BASE ON TROUBLE SPOTS (line item veto, shell game on budget restraint, push immigration into the lame duck session, vote on gay marriage/flag burning/abortion, the American Values Agenda, nominate more judges, tout Roberts/Alito, hide Miers, etc)
MAKE NICE WITHIN THE INSIDE GAME (have Bush-Cheney raise abundant coin for candidates, make it clear -- quietly -- just how massive and efficient the Mehlman/RNC/NRCC/NRSC turnout operation will be, buttressed by friendly group spending on TV and targeted messaging, have Josh Bolten make Andy Card seem like a lazy ogre)
TAXES, TAXES, TAXES (just wait until the oppo unfurls on every riding-high-for-now Democratic challenger and open seat candidate)
DON'T GIVE UP ON TRYING TO GET (MORE) CREDIT FOR THE ECONOMY AND ON TRYING TO MINIMIZE THE DAMAGE FROM HIGH GAS PRICES (as Don Evans and Ron Bonjean keep saying -- and check out today's boffo GDP figures)
UNITY VERSUS DIVISION; STRONG VERSUS WEAK; ANYBODY VERSUS RANGEL AND CONYERS (for those who like their messages coded)
"SURRENDER," "RETREAT," "WHITE FLAGS," "WIMPS" (no explanation needed)
DON'T BE INTIMIDATED BY WRONG TRACK OR JOB APPROVAL NUMBERS (those don't matter in a "choice" election)
REPEAT THIS PHRASE IN VARIOUS FORMS OVER AND OVER AGAIN UNTIL THE BASE HAS BEEN WHIPPED INTO A WE-MUST-VOTE LATHER: NANCYPELOSINEWYORKTIMESHOWARDDEANBILLKELLERHARRYREIDLIBERALLIBERALLIBERAL (if you don't instantly understand this one, get thee to some talk radio today)
FEWER SEATS IN PLAY THAN IN 1994 + WHERE THE IN PLAY SEATS ARE + THE DEMOCRATS' "MESSAGE" + BIG LABOR'S WEAKENED STATE
Joan Vennochi of the Boston Globe has 45% of the answer in her column. LINK ("The Bush White House can't control the outcome in Iraq, but it can control the message in America. On the home front, it knows how to win.")
Bright Note readers, however, can figure it all out for themselves.
Or, if you need some remedial help, the Washington Post's Babington and Abramowitz look at the clear political mileage the Bush Administration and Republicans on the Hill hope to get out of criticizing the New York Times for publishing details about the surveillance of the bank records of suspected terrorists. LINK
"'This is not press-bashing. This is a clear disagreement about a decision to reveal a classified program,' White House counselor Dan Bartlett said in an e-mail exchange. 'Are we supposed to just sit back and take it?'"
(Note Note: Take what, exactly? Does Bartlett think the New York Times published the Swift banking story as a direct attack on the White House?)
That nice Texas couple who hired Mr. Bartlett participated in a 9:00 am ET South Lawn arrival ceremony for Prime Minister Koizumi of Japan.
The President meets with the Japanese prime minister at 9:50 am ET before holding a joint press availability at 11:50 am ET. (Will anyone ask him if he agrees -- "more or less" -- with statistics from the Baghdad morgue, the Iraqi Health Ministry and other agencies -- that the number of Iraqis who have been killed since the US invasion is more than 50,000, as the Los Angeles Times recently reported LINK. Surely, the President will be asked about the big Supreme Court decision out today.)
Later today, the President and Mrs. Bush participate in an official dinner and East Room entertainment with the prime minister of Japan.
House Republicans will bring to the floor a resolution that would condemn government employees who leak classified information and would endorse the Bush Administration's effort to track terrorists by monitoring U.S. and international bank accounts.
On the other side of the Capitol, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) is expected to introduce a resolution today joining the President in his condemnation of the leak and subsequent publication of the financing tracking program and the warrantless domestic wiretapping program. Unlike the Oxley amendment, the Cornyn resolution seems to go after the leakers far more than the press.
House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) holds his weekly on-camera press briefing for reporters at 10:30 am ET in the House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery.
At a 12:30 pm ET press conference at DNC headquarters, DSCC Chairman Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) warn congressional Republicans that their plan to run their 2006 campaigns on immigration will "backfire" because of the GOP's "abysmal" record on the issue. The party committee chairs will be joined by representatives from Third Way, a Democratic group that recently commissioned a poll on this topic.
A coalition supporting comprehensive immigration reform -- The We Are America Alliance -- details plans to transform street mobilizations into voter registration and citizenship at 12:30 pm ET news conference at the National Press Club. The coalition will also release a state-by-state report that details the numbers of immigrants eligible to become new citizens and voters and the potential impact on key congressional races this Election Day.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) makes 10:30 pm ET remarks at the Log Cabin Republicans dinner at the Renaissance Hotel at the corner of Holllywood and Highland, which means he can easily get an In-N-Out burger if he wants one.
The Human Rights Campaign is set to announces at 10:00 am ET at the National Press Club that while elected officials "continue to dwell on the 'politics' of equal protections or marriage fairness, Fortune 500 companies are quickly moving toward equality for all employees in the workplace. HRC will announce that 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies now include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policy.
At 2:00 pm ET in the Capitol's Mansfield Room, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) will demand "Bush Republicans" in the Senate increase the minimum wage before giving themselves a raise. Sen. Kennedy's amendment to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 received 52 votes in the Senate last week.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is in the Palmetto State today. He joins Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) and Sen. Lindsey Graham for a 5:30 pm ET media availability at the Columbia Metropolitan Hotel in West Columbia, SC. He also attends the State GOP Victory 2006 event in Columbia, SC
The New York Times reports that Senator David Vitter (R-La) will send a letter to President Bush today that blames the Army Corps of Engineers for failing to make repairs to the city's hurricane protection system. LINK
The House Veterans' Affairs Committee holds a 10:00 am ET hearing in Cannon 334 on cyber-security at the Department of Veterans Affairs and the recent theft of veterans' data. Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson and his deputy, Gordon Mansfield, testify.
Health care reform will be front and center at 4:30 pm ET when former Sen. John Breaux (D-LA) holds a forum with former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) and former Sen. Don Nickles (R-OK) at the Hilton on Connecticut Ave. in Washington, DC.
Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley joins Richard Clarke and Rand Beers for a discussion on "The Forgotten Homeland" at the National Press Club at 12:00 pm ET.
On ABC at 10:00 pm ET this Friday, George Stephanopoulos looks at the political passions that are driving Americans apart on, "The State of Our Union."
Sen. Graham tells Stephanopoulos: "The best evidence I think of how polarized America has become is that it makes news when Democrats and Republicans do something of substance together and that truly is a shame. We've gone from the Senate being presumed to be above party politics to where the news is we rejected party politics."
The Note will not publish again until Wednesday, July 5. Happy Independence Day!
The New York Times' Scott Shane takes a look at the Administration's public record in highlighting its efforts to go after terrorist financing, despite its outrage at the New York Times and others for publishing the details of the Swift program. LINK
According to a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll, "Americans are closely divided on whether the economy is in good shape, with 50% saying it is doing well and 47% saying it is doing badly . . . In January, when Bush launched his campaign to spread good news, the national mood was slightly better: In a Times Poll that month, 55% said the economy was doing well." LINK
Democrats eye post-November targets:
In an interview with ABC News, DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel identified Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, New Mexico, and North Carolina as the ripest targets for Democrats to pursue mid-decade redistricting.
"Every party is going to squeeze every last bit of pulp out of this lemon to make lemonade and they are going to go after this with every thing that they have got," Emanuel told ABC News.
He would not speculate as to what effect mid-decade redistricting would have on control of the House in the 2008 and 2010 elections. He was confident, however, that there will be no efforts to pursue mid-decade redistricting before November 2006.
The new round of mid-decade redistricting (from both Democrats and Republicans) is expected to come some time after November--but before the next regularly scheduled redistricting--in states where a particular party finds itself in control of both the governorship and the state legislature.
Emanuel seemed confident that Democrats could redistrict without running afoul of the Voting Rights Act.
"Let's take New Jersey, Illinois, New Mexico, maybe Louisiana, maybe New York. It wouldn't inhibit any one of them," said Emanuel.
Asked if Democrats who are on record denouncing DeLay's tactics would be vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy from the NRCC spokesguy Carl Forti, Emanuel said, "Well, given hypocrisy is how we earn our living around here, I don't think it's a problem."
In a must-read, the Los Angeles Times' Peter Wallsten reports: "By some estimates, this could mean at least five new House seats for Democrats, along with a host of newly competitive Republican seats -- an outcome that would inject parity to a political map that has tilted in the GOP's favor for more than a decade." LINK
Wallsten Notes in order for Democrats to redistrict in New York, "the state's Democratic candidate for governor, state Atty. Gen. Eliot Spitzer . . . would have to alter his position" on gerrymandering.
Roll Call's David Drucker -- the Malibu native who has led the way on this story -- writes: "The two leading candidates for Democratic gains via redistricting appear to be Illinois and New Mexico, as Democrats control the executive and legislative branches of government in both states, and each state is capable of producing Democratic seats in place of districts held by Republicans."
Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times writes that "there was no indication that there would be any rush" to redistrict. LINK
In their inside piece, Ralph Blumenthal and Kate Zernike explain why a rash of mid-decade redistricting is not a likely scenario. LINK
Unsurprisingly, the New York Times editorial board bemoans the ruling. LINK
The Washington Times has Government Reform Committee Chair Thomas M. Davis III (R-VA) saying: "It may be time for Congress to return to these issues and see if we can make some clear rules that everyone can abide by.'" LINK
USA Today's Kathy Kiely has DeLay predicting that the maneuvering will wait until after the next Census in 2010. "'This decade is almost over,' DeLay said." LINK
More on yesterday's decision from the Chicago Tribune. LINK
The Wall Street Journal: LINK
USA Today: LINK
Dallas Morning News: LINK
The Philadelphia Inquirer: LINK
Texas redistricting: the Texas angle:
While yesterday's SCOTUS decision approved the majority of former Majority Leader Tom DeLay's proposed map, the populous District 23 must be redrawn prior to November's midterm elections, which will likely result in the need for another round of primary elections in newly-redrawn districts and might allow for Democrats to gain. The Houston Chronicle has the story. LINK
"Whether the ruling will boost Democrats' chances in Bonilla's district remains unclear, but his challenger, Democrat Rick Bonanos, sounded confident after receiving phone calls from top Democratic officials, including former Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.), pledging help," reports The Hill. LINK
Politics of immigration:
Leader Boehner refused to engage reporters yesterday on the prospect of compromise between the House's security-centric immigration legislation and the Senate's bill, which is softer on illegal immigration, report Amy Fagan and Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times: LINK
Per Roll Call's Ben Pershing and Erin P. Billings, "[Sen. John] McCain (R-AZ) did say that key players 'are talking,' and he remains hopeful that a deal is reachable this year."
Call to Renewal:
On "Good Morning America," Sen. Barack Obama added to his well-received, sermon-esque speech at the Call for Renewal Conference yesterday, telling ABC's Robin Roberts, "The speech actually wasn't focused on Democrats solely. My simple point is to make sure that we don't get so locked into a particular perception about how one party or the other thinks that we miss the enormous complexity and diversity of religious views across the country."
He said in conclusion, "But I want to make clear that I also spoke to conservatives to say that the history of separation of church and state is what has allowed religious freedom to thrive in this country and that, when we talk about issues, it's also important for us to recognize that there are folks who are nonbelievers, who are of different faiths, and we've got to translate whatever moral concerns or religious concerns we have into a universal language that all Americans can talk about."
The Chicago Tribune's Marni Goldberg on Sen. Obama's call to cure "spiritual ills." LINK
Nell Henderson of the Washington Post reports that the Federal Reserve is ready to raise interest rates for the 17th time in 25 months. LINK
Bush Administration agenda and personality:
On B1 of the Wall Street Journal, Dionne Searcey and Peter Grant look at Matt Dowd's role in helping AT&T market TV to the phone company's customers.
"Using an approach the president's team employed in Ohio in the 2004 election, AT&T's local marketing teams are burrowing deep into communities to find neighborhood leaders to pitch its new service. They have come up with a list that includes Sunday school teachers and other 'navigators,' or trend-setters whose opinions are sought out and valued by neighbors."
The Washington Post on Hank Paulson being unanimously confirmed by the Senate. LINK
Bloomberg News, in its write up of their new poll with the Los Angeles Times, reports on the correlation between the President's approval ratings and ever-increasing gas prices. LINK
The Washington Times' Charles Hurt posits that President Bush's support of Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) in his primary race against John Jacob may have been the decisive factor in Rep. Cannon's victory--in the final days, the radio waves were saturated with ads featuring President Bush speaking on behalf of Rep. Cannon, while answering machines were filled with recorded messages from the President and his wife. Jacobs agreed, telling the Washington Times, "'It's hard to beat an incumbent. It's even harder to beat President Bush here.'" LINK
The New York Daily News may soon start a contest offering the winner the opportunity to listen in to the next phone call between Greg Smith and Craig Donner. Today's installment of the paper's Fossella series looks at an improper use of official photographs the congressman took with some Muppets. LINK
Pat Healy of the New York Times delivers a must-read story about the current rough patch for the McFarland campaign. The Reagan-era Pentagon spokeswoman is set to infuse her bankrupt campaign war chest with $100,000 of her own money and explains why she didn't correct some newspaper stories which inaccurately reported she had received a degree from M.I.T. LINK
McFarland advisor Ed Rollins "said there would not be enough money for television advertising before the Sept. 12 primary, and only enough for a week or two of advertising this fall."
The New York Daily News on (some of) the same. LINK
"Score one for Webb...and wait to see if Allen brings up the subject again," writes the Virginia Daily Press' editorial board of yesterday's bitter, press release war between challenger Jim Webb and incumbent Sen. George Allen. Webb, who refused to fall into the Kerryian ditch of not fighting fire with fire, attacked Allen's lack of military service soon after Allen released a statement regarding Webb's refusal to support the Senate's flag-desecration amendment. LINK
AP's Bob Lewis writes, "Allen adviser Dick Wadhams called Jarding's comments pathetic and said they raise questions about Webb's fitness for office." LINK
Webb called Allen's news release "weak-kneed attacks by cowards."
We knew the Virginia Senate race would be rough, but who knew that such fireworks would go off before the fourth of July?
While challenger Stephen P. Laffey campaigns tonight in Johnston, Rhode Island, Sen. Lincoln R. Chafee (R-RI) receives the endorsement from the state's Republican convention -- a meeting which Laffey has labeled a "charade." The Providence Journal's Katherine Gregg writes astutely, "Chafee, of course, is hoping tonight's vote by the 245-delegate convention will publicly reaffirm his popularity within his own party, dispel the notion (sic) that his best and perhaps only hope of surviving the Sept. 12 primary is a huge influx of unaffiliated voters, and demonstrate to political pulse-takers both inside and outside Rhode Island that 'I am the only candidate who can take on and defeat the Democrats in a general election.'" LINK
The Washington Post's Peter Baker analyses President Bush's tougher tone and highlights the importance of the fight for Sen. James M. Talent's (R-MO) seat in a state where President Bush's approval rating is at about 39%. LINK
The St. Louis' Post-Dispatch's Jo Mannies details the fundraiser Bush did for Sen. Talent LINK
The AP's Kimberly Helfing reports that Bob Casey, Jr., has released his first television ad, in which Casey says, "'We need to reduce the deficit, lower interest rates, and invest in people again. We can do a lot better in Washington, and we will.'" LINK
In contrast to the mud slinging that has defined the Santorum-Casey race so far, the incumbent and candidate's first television commercials -- released yesterday in a few Pennsylvania markets -- are "mostly positive" and "not hard-edged." Brett Lieberman of the Patriot-News reports. LINK
AP's Brent Kallestad reports that Attorney General Charlie Crist and Rep. Jim Davis (D-FL) are leading their primary opponents by double-digits, and at this point seem likely face each other in November. LINK
J. Kenneth Blackwell, the GOP candidate for Ohio's governorship, has pledged his support of the highly controversial "65 percent solution," a policy that would require school districts to spend 65 percent of their resources on classroom instruction, report the Columbus Dispatch's Catherine Candisky and Jim Siegel. LINK
Per The Hill, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chet Culver hopes to follow in the footsteps of popular Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA), but his "cliché" ads are no match against those of Republican challenger, Rep. Jim Nussle. LINK
The Washington Posts' Matthew Mosk and John Wagner on Gov. Bob Ehrlich's (R-MD) gubernatorial announcement. LINK
Roll Call's Executive Editor Morton Kondracke calls on Democrats and Republicans to pick their moderate candidates for 2008: former Gov. Mark Warner on the center-left, and Sen. McCain or Gov. Romney on the center-right.
Kondracke writes, "Romney and McCain are busy identifying themselves as 'proud conservatives' these days to maintain credibility in the GOP, and Warner, too, told me, 'I desperately try to reject' the terms 'moderate' and 'centrist' because 'they seem weaker rather than stronger on the issues' whereas he wants to be 'bold.'"
Warner added, "I'm trying to say to the Democratic Party that there are places -- wide swaths of this country -- that are ready for a fresh look at a Democrat, but not a Democrat that is simply going to be a rehashed 1970s Democrat with an us-against-them kind of approach."
Ben Smith of the New York Daily News seems to be taking the "Bloomberg for President" chatter somewhat seriously. LINK
2008: nominating calendar:
The Union Leaders' John DiStaso has Donna Brazile reacting to President Clinton's recent calendar comments by writing an e-mail saying she was "so disappointed in Mr. Clinton's statement, along with the confusion being generated on this matter." LINK
The New York Daily News follows all of the New Hampshire coverage yesterday with its own write-up of the Clintons' support for the current version of the nomination calendar and opposition to tinkering with it. LINK
The Quad City Times' Dan Gearino reports on some New Hampshire lawmakers who are considering moving their primary ahead of the Iowa caucuses after a Democratic National Committee panel voted to insert a state caucus between Iowa and New Hampshire. LINK
The New York Post's Bishop follows yesterday's Roll Call report about a staffer in Sen. Clinton's office expressing displeasure at the way a press conference on the minimum wage was arranged. LINK
We checked in with Clinton press secretary Philippe Reines to see if his denial of his colleague's use of vulgarity was all he had discussed with the New York Post about the (tabloid catnip) story. Reines tells The Note he also offered this statement, but was not all that surprised that the New York Post declined to use it. "Senator Clinton has always had a great deal of respect and affinity for Harry Reid and his leadership, they work closely everyday on issues ranging from reducing unintended pregnancies to raising the minimum wage, and she looks forward to working with him in the future as Majority Leader of the US Senate," Reines told the paper.
Reid spokesman Jim Manley tells The Note, "All's well that ends well. All I know is that they are going to continue to work very closely together on issues important to the American people."
In her New York Post column, Deb Orin wonders why Mark Warner has not fired Jerome Armstrong after his 2003 run in with the SEC became public in recent days. LINK
The Note wonders if someone affiliated with one of Warner's potential opponents for the 2008 Democratic nomination helped inspire her idea for the column.
Governors in Midwestern states are being chastised for driving (or worse, for being chauffeured) the short distance from their homes to their offices. However, Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA), for one, avoids the heat by occasionally jogging the 3 miles from the Capitol to his home at the end of the workday. LINK
Fred Barnes writes about Governor Kaine (and Mark Warner) on the Wall Street Journal's op-ed page.
A bill proposed by Sen. McCain that would have forced cable operators to offer consumers "a la carte" programming was handily defeated in the Senate yesterday. LINK
The AP's Steve Le Blanc reports that in a news conference yesterday, Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) encouraged lawmakers to allow a vote on a proposed amendment that would ban same-sex marriage, saying that nothing is "off-limits" to voters in a democracy, even civil rights. The vote is scheduled to take place on July 12. LINK
Republican insiders say the prospect of former Sen. Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) returning to a leadership role next year is likely, resulting in a "buzz" on Capitol Hill and increased media attention for himself and current Sen. Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). LINK
The Abramoff affair:
An Interior Department Official has been charged in connection with the ensuing Abramoff scandal for "filing a false disclosure report." LINK
Luntz revisits his talking points:
ABC News' Clayton Sandell reports that in a BBC documentary, Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster who shaped the GOP's talking points on the climate crisis, is distancing himself from a memo he wrote six years ago.
LUNTZ: "It's now 2006. Now I think most people would conclude that there is global warming taking place, and that the behavior of humans are affecting the climate."
QUESTION: "But the Administration has continued to follow your advice. They're still questioning the science."
LUNTZ: "That's up to the Administration. I'm not the administration. What they want to do is their business. And it's nothing to do with what I write. And it's nothing to do with what I believe."
George Will writes on the Supreme Court's ruling against Vermont's strict limits on campaign spending. LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper looks at the Democratic message on the flag and marriage and writes, "To be charitable, let's say it's more 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.' It might be quality, it might be interesting, but it's complicated and perhaps not as easily consumed." LINK
Tomorrow the President and First Lady participate in a tour of Graceland with Koizumi at 11:30 am ET. (Curtain raiser from USA Today LINK)
. At 5:45 pm ET, President Bush attends a Mike DeWine for Senate reception at a private residence in Columbus, OH. The President RONs at Camp David.
Sen. Bayh attends a fundraiser for the tenth congressional district Democrats in Highland Park, IN. Sen. Biden discusses American foreign policy at the Bedford Village Inn in Bedford, NH.
And the Secretary of Commerce speaks to the Federalist Society about immigration and the economy at 12:45 pm ET at Tony Cheng's restaurant in Washington, DC.