The Note: Provocative Behavior


In July and August, only a journalistic fool would resist diving into a big geopolitical story when it rears its head, even one with no super-obvious connection to the 2006 and 2008 elections.

However, it would take a bigger fool to try to offer network-level analysis of WIAMs regarding North Korea's provocative missile tests.

As Norm Ornstein, Charlie Cook, Stu Rothenberg, Chuck Todd, Rich Galen, Scott Reed, Steve Elmendorf, Donna Brazile, and Jeff Zeleny all know, WIAMs stands for "what it all means" (and, at the Palm, is pronounced "WHY-AMMS").

We have no answers, only questions (and guesses):

1. How long will the North Korea story dominate the news? (Our guess: all of the shortened week, but not beyond next Monday, unless more big stuff happens beyond the gabbing).

2. For 2006, is this more likely to race through voters' minds in a way that makes this a national security election (favoring the hawkish party of the commander in chief) or a competence/change election (favoring the party of the Lioness from San Francisco)? (Our guess: Daddy trumps Mommy.)

3. Will David Sanger have to leave Vermont, and, if so, will he go to DC or to The Region? (Our guess: he's already left the Green Mountain State and it will be DC for now.)

4. Which list is longer -- the names of the national television shows which Bill Richardson has turned down for interviews in 2006 or the names of the people who had to sign off pre-publication on the text of the James Carville/Mark Penn Washington Post Outlook piece that argued that Hillary Clinton can indeed be elected president? (Our guess: the latter, and get yourself some remedial help if you don't know what those two choices have to do with North Korea.)

5. Would cable bookers rather have Bill Perry or Ash Carter on their shows? (Our guess: a tie.)

6. What does this do to immigration and the rest of the Republican legislative agenda? (Our guess: ask the WIAMs experts.)

7. Will Jon Stewart come in off vacation, like so many "real" journalists, because of his already-demonstrated love of Taepodong jokes? (Our guess: so not.)

8. Will this impact fundraising or advertising for 2006? (Our guess: only time will tell.)

9. Will this give the normally quiet Sen. Biden something to talk about during his fifteen (15!!!) August days in Iowa? (Our guess: so.)

10. What will the smart set be watching while others focus on the United Nations and Tokyo? (Our guess: Iran, Iraq, and the World Cup.)

Remember the long-ago days when the American president and Japanese prime minister could fool around in Graceland singing Elvis tunes? Oh, right . . . that day was Friday. Well, the two leaders now have a far weightier topic atop their respective agendas today.

President Bush spends the last full day of his 60th year with only one public event on his schedule as of this writing. He meets with the President of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili, in the Oval Office at 1:15 pm ET and will perhaps share some of his thoughts on North Korea's missile tests with the White House press pool when it is ushered in at the bottom of the meeting.

As always: watch demeanor as much as the words. And free advice to the pool: mobile phones off and don't interrupt the POTUS.

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow gaggles off camera at 9:30 am ET and briefs on camera at 12:15 pm ET.

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