The Note: (Not) Cutting the Deck


Could it be that the Democrats' inability to come up with a consensus "anti-war" position is more of a midterm problem for them than HarrietMiersDubaideficitsKatrina--earmarksimmigrationgasprices is for the Republicans?

After all the private meetings (including just endless ones in the Senate caucus), Democrats remain united in their disunity, defensiveness, and distraction.

Tucker Eskew's Third Rule of American Politics is this: If you are spending time denying your opponent's accusations repeating your opponent's own words in your denials, you are losing.

Today, Bill Frist and Karl Rove put the football down and dare the Charlie Brown Party to try to kick again.

Sens. John Kerry (D-MA), Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) plan offer an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill today that sets a deadline of July 1, 2007, for U.S. troops to be redeployed out of Iraq. Highlighting Democratic division on this issue, the amendment comes one day after Democratic Sens. Reed and Levin proposed a non-binding resolution calling for the President to begin re-deploying troops this year.

On Imus this morning John Kerry said his amendment (with Feingold and Boxer) "provides the only opportunity for success" and sets more than enough time to do "what has to be done" to get American troops home and get the Iraqis to stand up on their own.

Kerry went on to say that "this Administration wants to have a fake debate. . . cut and run, cut and run, cut and run, cut and run. . . They found their three words"

"My plan is not cut and run. . . Their plan is lie and die," Kerry added.

President and Mrs. Bush departed the White House at 7:00 am ET en route to Vienna, Austria for a US/EU summit. They are not expected to have a public schedule for the remainder of the day. ABC News' Karen Travers reports the US and the EU countries will focus on enhancing cooperation in promoting democracy in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Latin America, set priorities for the countries' counterterrorism cooperation, and initiate a new area of cooperation on the enforcement of intellectual property rights in third world countries.

"America's problems with Iraq are casting a long shadow over President Bush's meeting with European Union leaders this week, writes the AP's Jahn. LINK

The Senate convenes at 9:45 am ET and continues to debate the Defense Authorization Act of 2007. ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf reports the Senate will likely debate and vote first on whether it should be criminal to avoid parental notification laws by crossing state lines where abortions are concerned, and then on whether or not to raise the minimum wage as amendments to the Defense Authorization Act.

The Senate will recess from 12:30 pm ET to 2:15 pm ET for some luncheon action.

Sens. Kennedy (D-MA), Clinton (D-NY), Durbin (D-IL), and others push for an increase in the minimum wage at a 3:30 pm ET press conference.

A bipartisan group of Senators (Feinstein, Snowe, Durbin, and Chafee) are expected to unveil legislation to close the SUV loophole and raise the average fuel economy for all vehicles at a 11:30 am ET press conference.

Also at 11:30 am ET, House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) holds a pen and pad briefing with reporters.

At 1:00 pm ET, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) plans to join college students to call on Republicans to reverse potential interest rate hikes on student loans.

Republican Strategist Mary Matalin hosts a reception for Scooter Libby's defense fund at her Alexandria, VA home at 6:30 pm ET. The event is closed press. The price of admission: $500 per person to attend, $5,000 per person to co-host. Among those who ponied up the big bucks to co-host: Former Commerce Secretary Don Evans and former Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham as well as an honorable Nick Calio.

ABC News' Jason Ryan reports, "sources close to Libby have told me they have raised about $2 million in the fund so far. There have been almost 115 different court filings (from both Fitzgerald and Libby) since Libby's 10/28/05 indictment. The legal fees of bringing this to trial in January will likely be astronomical."

Karl Rove was scheduled to address the annual NFIB "Small-Business Summit" in Washington, DC at 9:15 am ET.

Sen. Frist (R-TN) attends the "President's Dinner" leadership lunch. (No, they don't count all the money they raised last night.) Later this evening, Sen. Frist plans to attend a Washington, DC fundraiser for Sen. Conrad Burns' (R-MT) reelection campaign.

Sen. George Allen (R-VA) and Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman address the Edison Electric Institute annual conference at 3:30 pm ET in Washington, DC.

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-RGA) attends a 4:30 pm ET fundraiser for gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos (R-MI) in Bloomfield Hills, MI.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) holds a 1:30 pm ET press conference promoting adult and cord blood stem cell research as an alternative to embryonic stem cell research.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was slated to deliver a 9:30 am ET speech to the National Plastics Expo in Chicago, IL.

Be sure to check out some other Tuesday political events below.

Politics of Iraq:

In a must-read, Charles Babington and Jonathan Weisman look at the Democrats' "delicate balance" on Iraq -- as well as the push to raise the minimum wage. LINK

Under pressure from "several" of his colleagues who said GOPers would portray Democrats as "soft on terrorism and national security," Sen. Kerry agreed to extend the deadline by seven months, "but he still calls for a firm date for most troops to be out."

"Senate GOP aides said they were unsure whether the party's leaders would offer their own Iraq language or be content trying to defeat the Levin-Reed and Kerry-Feingold amendments."

Kate Zernike and Carl Hulse of the New York Times write on the Senate Democrats offering up a non-binding resolution that America begin to withdraw troops from Iraq by the end of the year. LINK

The document was, of course, was carefully worded: "The Democrats behind the measure did not even use the word 'withdrawal,' and talked about how to guarantee 'success' for Iraq, not about any failures of the war."

The AP's Liz Sidoti wraps the ongoing Iraq debate taking place in the Senate. LINK

The Boston Globe: LINK

The Los Angeles Times: LINK

Per Bennett Roth of the Houston Chronicle, the Levin/Reed resolution insists that President Bush be forced submit a concrete plan for troop withdrawal from 2007 onward. LINK

Bloomberg's William Roberts has Sen. John Warner (R-VA) calling the Levin and Reed amendment "a very serious-minded approach" while adding "I am not yet ready to say I agree with all provisions." LINK

On his "Political Punch" blog, ABC News' Jake Tapper Notes that Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called Sen. Levin's less immediate plan for troop withdrawal a "cut and jog." LINK

In a Washington Post op-ed, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq's national security adviser, writes, "We envisage the U.S. troop presence by year's end to be under 100,000, with most of the remaining troops to return home by the end of 2007. The eventual removal of coalition troops from Iraqi streets will help the Iraqis, who now see foreign troops as occupiers rather than the liberators they were meant to be." LINK


John Kerry responded to Karl Rove's comments from his New Hampshire speech last week when he took on Kerry and Murtha directly saying, "They may be with you at the first shots, but they're not going to be with you for the last tough battles."

Kerry fired back with these questions for Mr. Rove: "Where was he when shots are fired? Where are their children? Are they over there? How many lives were lost because they didn't provide the strategy?"

On CBS's Early Show this morning, Dr./Leader/Sen. Frist warned that the United States "can't just sit here and wave the white flag . . . we can't cut and run" in Iraq. Frist highlighted successes like the new government and the death of Zarqawi as signs that "we're making progress" and stressed the need to stay the course without a timetable. "Surrender is not the solution," he said.

Vice President Cheney is sticking to his guns. The New York Daily News writes up his continued belief that the Iraqi insurgents are in their "last throes." LINK

Minimum wage politics:

On the minimum wage, the Washington Post's Babington and Weisman report that Democrats are hoping to recreate the political dynamic of 1997 when the Senate's passage of a minimum-wage increase "created so much pressure on House Republicans in the Northeast and Midwest that GOP leaders were forced to bring the issue to the floor."

The Wall Street Journal's David Rogers and Christopher Conkey put on their prediction hats and write that while it's "far too early to predict," the GOP "could solve two problems at once by linking the wage and estate tax issues in an election-year deal." LINK

More: "Discomfort is growing among rank-and-file Republicans, especially as organized labor has mounted ballot issues in various states. Seven Republicans broke ranks wit their leadership in the House Appropriations Committee last week, and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R., Mo.) said her polling on the issue in Missouri -- one of the states with a ballot initiative in the works -- testified to the issue's popularity. 'It is a problem,' Mr. Hastert said of the pressure now."

Estate tax politics:

The Wall Street Journal's Brody Mullins reports that House GOPers "may settle for a muted estate-tax reduction" along the lines of the legislation introduced yesterday by Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) that would "reduce the number of Americans subject to the estate tax by raising the per-person threshold for the tax to estates valued at more than $5 million beginning in 2010."

GOP agenda:

The USA Today editorial board comes out against the proposed amendment on flag burning. LINK

A Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial condemns lawmakers who have vowed to support (and previously supported) an amendment that would give Congress the ability "to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States." The piece names Rep. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Ted Strickland, Sen. Mike DeWine, and Sen. George Voinovich as legislators who have "wrong-headed[ly]" favored the legislation. LINK

Although many House and Senate Republicans are calling for limitations on 527s in new lobby reform legislation, Roll Call's Tory Newmayer reports that such restrictions are unlikely.

Politics of immigration:

"There is no getting around the fact that Matthew Dowd is a pretty smart fellow," writes Charlie Cook in a lead sentence that is sure to indicate a must-read is to follow. Cook explores the Dowdian view of the importance of the Hispanic vote to the future of the Republican Party and how the immigration "hardliners" in the party may be jeopardizing the gains President Bush made among the Hispanic electorate in 2004.

The Washington Times reports that Hazleton, PA plans to crack down on illegal immigrants by revoking business licenses from companies employing aliens.

Said Republican Mayor Louis Barletta: "Illegal immigrants are destroying the city . . . I don't want them here, period." LINK

The Washington Times' Charles Hurt Notes that some Senate Republicans (such as Sen. John Cornyn) are still quite skeptical that the immigration bill passed last month will stop companies from hiring illegal immigrants. LINK

"Team America" PAC (Trey and Matt must be proud of their spawn), founded by Rep. Tom Tancredo's (R-CO) and run by Bay Buchanan has funded ads urging Republicans to abandon Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) in the heated 3rd District primary because of Cannon's stance on immigration, reports Roll Call.

Politics of Iran:

"President Bush yesterday warned Iran of 'progressively stronger political and economic sanctions' if Tehran does not heed world calls to abandon ambitions to develop nuclear weapons," per the Washington Times' Curl. LINK

"White House aides said the address was in part meant to serve as a table-setter for discussions about the nuclear standoff with Iran that are expected as part of a broader agenda this week at the United States- European Union summit meeting," reports the New York Times. LINK

Per Bloomberg's Brendan Murray and Catherine Dodge, President Bush will focus on firming up the diplomatic coalition against Iran's nuclear program during today's summit with European leaders in Vienna. LINK

Politics of North Korea:

Jacqueline Shire and Astrid Hill of ABC News provide some background and fast facts on a possible (though not necessarily likely) North Korea missile test: &LINK

The economy:

Even though the national unemployment rate rests at record lows, Carlos Torres of Bloomberg credits Americans' low confidence in the economy to inflation. "Few Americans hold out the hope that incomes will improve in coming months," writes Torres. LINK

Bush Administration:

For the Washington Post's Federal Page, R. Jeffrey Smith reports that the tanker inquiry finds Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's attention "was elsewhere." LINK

USA Today's Richard Benedetto Notes that Merchant Marine Academy (and Bush Administration) alum Andy Card played an influential role in the President's decision to deliver yesterday's commencement address in Kings Point, NY. LINK

Abortion politics:

Terry Woster of Sioux Falls' Argus Leader reports that a South Dakota law banning abortion except to save the mother's life is now in the hands of the largely anti-abortion population. LINK

Pro-choice groups have succeeded in placing the measure on the November ballot, delaying (permanently, they hope) its previously scheduled July 1 enactment.

The AP reports that the Supreme Court will consider a second appeal from the Bush Administration to bring back a federal ban on partial-birth abortion. LINK

Big Casino budget deficit:

Senate Budget Committee Chair Judd Gregg (R-NH) introduces "Stop Over-Spending," or "SOS" to try to rein in spending, though he says congressional passage is uncertain. The Chicago Tribune has the story. LINK

Politics of gas prices:

Under the headline "Scent of Ballots Is in Air, and Energy Bills Are Blooming" the New York Times' Michael Janofsky mulls the myriad energy bills being introduced before the fall elections. LINK

Voting rights:

With a House vote on Voting Rights Act renewal due any day now and with Senate action expected to follow sometime prior to the July 4 recess, the Wall Street Journal's ed board criticizes Democrats and Republicans for re-authorizing legislation that allows both parties to "keep drawing racially gerrymandered districts in the name of protecting voting rights."

Gov. Ernie Fletcher:

The New York Times' Ian Urbina on the extensive corruption charges filed against Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R-KY) and many members of his staff for forcing Democrats out of Civil Service jobs in favor of loyal Republicans. LINK

Urbina writes; "Most of his former backers, including his mentor, Senator Mitch McConnell, have distanced themselves from him, and Democrats point to the case as another example of Republican corruption and overreach."

The Abramoff affair:

The Justice Department has delayed Jack Abramoff's prison move-in date by at least three months, which Roll Call's John Bresnahan writes is "the latest sign that Abramoff's continued cooperation with an ongoing corruption probe in Washington, D.C., is proving helpful to prosecutors."

The President's Dinner:

Last night in Washington, DC President Bush raised around $27 million dollars for candidates in the November midterm elections, reports Reuters. LINK

With a gargantuan model of Congress as the backdrop, the message of the NRCC's elaborate President's Dinner last night was clear: keep Congress. Lasers, bottomless wine, and Grechen Wilson music (no, she did not play "Redneck Woman") treated over 5,000 onlookers before and after two quick, feisty speeches from congressional leaders Hastert and Frist and the $27 million man, President Bush.

Looking tanned (10 minutes in the sun in Baghdad works wonders), President Bush gesticulated passionately from the stage when addressing troop withdrawals and his tax cuts. Bush suggested the Kerry-Murtha-Feingold alliance is waving "the white flag of surrender in this war on terror." Although Bush did not garner raucous ovations like President's Dinners of the past (and only 30 applauses rather than 70 in 2004), he received a surprisingly warm response to his not-so-popular-among-party-faithful guest worker program.

2006: landscape:'s Walter Shapiro analyzes Democrats' prospects for retaking the House and Senate this November, concluding that any inroads the Democrats are able to make will depend on the extent to which widespread disaffection with Bush and the Republican Congress can counterbalance the GOP's advantages of money and incumbency. LINK

2006: Senate:

The Hartford Courant reports that Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) "unequivocally" ruled out bypassing the Aug. 8 Democratic primary yesterday but would not foreclose an independent run should he lose the Democratic nomination to anti-war candidate Ned Lamont. LINK

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Borsuk and Forster report that former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R-WI) will not challenge Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) this November, leaving the GOP without a candidate -- and with only three weeks to recruit one. LINK

The AP has more: LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

The AP reports that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will headline a fundraiser for the Log Cabin Republicans in California next week. Event organizers say this would be the first appearance the governor since he took office. LINK

While appearing on "Your World with Neil Cavuto" on Monday to talk about immigration, Phil Angelides framed the choice between himself and Gov. Schwarzenegger thusly: "Californians are going to want a governor they can count on and they don't know who Arnold Schwarzenegger is right now."


The Des Moines Register's David Yepsen details in his column that the controversy over Democratic gubernatorial nominee Chet Culver calling for Archie Brooks' resignation from the Des Moines City Council moved from being a local issue to a factor in the Iowa race for governor. LINK

2008: Democrats:

The New York Times' Raymond Hernandez reports that Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) will head on a fundraising trip for Democrats in Ohio and Pennsylvania. LINK

"Although Mrs. Clinton's advisers insist that she is driven only by her desire to help her party make substantial electoral gains this year, her appearances will no doubt help her forge alliances in Ohio that could prove valuable if she decides to run for the presidency. "

The New York Post's Dicker reports that Sen. Clinton's approval rating has reached an 18 month low at 54 percent in one survey. LINK

Former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) will visit North Dakota in August to help raise money for the state's Democratic legislative candidates, the AP reports. LINK

Gov. Brian Schweitzer's (D-MT) advice for future presidential candidates in the Philadelphia Inquirer: "'Tell people he respects their Second Amendment rights and maybe talk a little about his own experiences with guns. . . it might not be a bad idea to go out to a gravel pit and set up some beer cans and shoot at 'em.'" LINK


The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne columnizes that the principles Chief Justice Roberts laid out during the Georgetown Law Center's recent commencement address are at odds with the way the Supreme Court decided Bush v. Gore and would -- if he sticks to them -- win him a place in history as "the chief justice who ended the judicial wars." LINK

The Washington Post's Charles Lane writes that yesterday's decision underscored that, "perhaps more than ever, forming a majority in significant cases depends on winning the vote of a single justice – moderate conservative Anthony M. Kennedy." LINK


Preparing for a fierce "culture of corruption" battle this fall, Democratic Caucus Chairman James Clyburn (R-SC) announced that the number of lawmakers involved in rewriting House Democrats' internal rules and regulations will double. Roll Call's Jennifer Yachnin reports.

Other Tuesday political events:

Mrs. Lynne Cheney gives remarks about American history and reads to fourth, fifth and sixth graders, highlighting the Birmingham Kiwanis Club's Reading is Fundamental Program in Birmingham, AL at 12:15 pm ET.

Bill Kristol, Francis Fukuyama, Michael Tomasky, Ken Baer, and Andrei Cherny discuss: "Is Politics Brain Dead?" at the National Press Club in Washington, DC at 1:00 pm ET on the occasion of the launch of "Democracy: A Journal of Ideas," a new progressive journal founded by Baer and Cherny. The Hill has more: LINK

At a noon ET press conference, class action law firm Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C. (CMHT), will detail four major class action lawsuits it is filing. CMHT will be joined at the press conference by Andy Stern of SEIU and Susan Scanlan of the National Council of Women's Organizations, both of whom are expected to address health and employment issues implicated by the lawsuits.