WASHINGTON, July 10
The Democrats have cleverly lulled the Republicans into a false sense of confidence for the midterm election.
Based on the results in 2002 and 2004, on Terry McAuliffe's eye rolls at bipartisan social gatherings, and on what gets written in The Note, Republicans believe that they can hold their Senate and House majorities by playing the national security card from the top and bottom of the deck in the July-August-September-October-November window and ride that to victory.
But over the weekend, ABC News was given an exclusive first-look tour of the new Democratic Party war room in the bowels of the DNC headquarters, behind a secret passageway and down some stairs. There on the wall is a sign with the party's Dean-Schumer-Emanuel-Pelosi-Soros-Sweeney-Kennedy-Clintons-Reid-approved messages:
It's Iraq, Stupid
Change Versus More of the Same
Don't Forget Human and Civil Rights
If you just look to "McLaughlin Group" alums, however, the picture remains mixed, with Freddie "The Beatle" Barnes writing in the Weekly Standard that everything's coming up roses in the Bolten era LINK, while Robert "Novakio" Novak sees the GOP whistling past the graveyard. LINK (Both are mega must reads.)
Decide for yourselves:
1. The Boston Globe's Susan Milligan reports that after losing some ground on terrorism in the spring, "Republicans are now seeking to strengthen their public image on national security by seizing on North Korea and the Supreme Court ruling, as well as the decision by several newspapers to report on an international bank surveillance program that the US government is using to track the finances of suspected terrorists." LINK
2. The New York Times reports much of the remaining legislative calendar will likely be dedicated to crafting a trial system for terrorism detainees in light of the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) are expected to play leading roles on the matter in the days ahead, with Graham having the potential trickier role of avoiding intra-party division on the issue. LINK
3. Speculation will be intense today as to who leaked Chairman Peter Hoekstra's letter to the President and what Hoekstra's motives are in the wake of the New York Times reporting on Sunday about the "blunt" missive he sent President Bush on May 18, expressing concerns about the way in which the Administration had been handling briefing Congress on intelligence matters. LINK
4. With classic cover art depicting President Bush getting lost under a 10-gallong hat, Time magazine reports on "the end of Cowboy Diplomacy" and "why the Bush Doctrine no longer works for the Bush Administration." LINK
5. Tony Cordesman, an ABC News consultant, writes: "We need to be careful not to focus too much on possible US crimes in Iraq and ignore what seems to be the failure of the operation to take back control of Baghdad and bring the militias back under control. The weekend indicates that this operation has accomplished nothing that really help reestablish order in a city where even the most conservative counts indicate close to 60% of the violence in Iraq is now occurring."