WASHINGTON, July 20
When it gets above 90 degrees, people in politics and journalism get a little loopy.
Holding things together requires slotting everything into the appropriate category.
As a service to Note readers, here is a summary of this news cycle's top stories, put in one of the two basic categories into which all news falls:
Man-bites-dog political news:
George "Refused to Support Hate-crime Legislation, It Was Like My Father Was Killed All Over Again" Bush speaks to the NAACP. LINK
Sen. Voinovich becomes the champion of getting John Bolton confirmed as U.N. ambassador.
Dog-bites-man political news:
Bill Clinton triangulates within his own family by announcing he is going to campaign for Joe Lieberman.
Bob Novak wails on Israel.
The press appears pro-stem cell research.
Zeleny fans the Obama '08 flames.
Democrats believe that President Bush has reached a Tipping Point with Hispanic voters.
The press appears to want voters to care about the scandal storyline and punish Republicans for it.
Peggy Noonan shows she is a woman of impeccable taste and judgment (and a declining stickler for usage rules she thought would live forever). LINK
Mike Allen works 23 out of every 24 hour period. LINK
ABC News' Karen Travers reports, "President Bush speaks to the NAACP's annual convention in Washington at 10:30 am ET, taking a 'moment of opportunity' to speak to the group he has snubbed since taking office in 2001."
More Travers: "Bush spoke to the NAACP as a presidential candidate in 2000 but has not as president. His relationship with the group has been cool, as the President declined invitations to speak before the group and its leaders have openly criticized his policies."
"White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said on Tuesday that the President is making the remarks this year because there is a 'moment of opportunity' there and he 'wants to make his voice heard.'"
"Snow stressed that the President has a good relationship with Bruce Gordon, the new head of the NAACP and while the President has 'political disagreements' with the organization, the speech 'marks an opportunity to have a conversation.'"
ABC News' Kirit Radia reports Secretary of State Rice is expected to accompany the President to the NAACP gathering for his remarks.
Here's the curtain-raiser from the Nation's Newspaper: LINK
Yesterday at the convention, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), and Barack Obama (D-IL) acted as if the President was Voldemort, balking at using his name and instead referring to him as "the surprise guest." And since the crowd's applause increased directly with the speakers' growing vitriol against he-who-shall-not-be-named, Bush should probably expect a somewhat difficult audience at his morning speech.
Rev. Al Sharpton, who was scheduled to attend the convention this morning, cancelled his appearance in protest of President Bush's address.
The Senate is expected to vote on extending the Voting Rights Act today. Up to eight hours of debate is expected to get underway at 9:30 am ET. The House voted overwhelmingly last week to extend provisions of the civil rights act that was signed into law by President Johnson after violence erupted in the South over voting rights for African Americans.
After his speech, President Bush returns to the White House and meets with the first vice president of the government of national unity of Sudan and president of Southern Sudan at 11:40 am ET in the Oval Office. Pool coverage is expected at the bottom of the meeting.
Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Chris Hill testifies about North Korea before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at 9:30 am ET.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke heads to the other side of the Capitol to deliver his market-impacting remarks on the economy to the House.
Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) holds his weekly on-camera press briefing at 10:30 am ET.
On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds her weekly on-camera press briefing at 10:45 am ET.
Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) moves on from stem cells and takes on "Islamic Fascism" during a luncheon program at the National Press Club. The 12:30 pm ET event is billed as "a major policy address."
Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Steve King (R-IA), Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), and a crew of military and INS officials address the House Homeland Security Committee and House Government Reform Committee on "Expanding the Border Fence."
First Lady Laura Bush speaks to children at the Library of Congress at 10:20 am ET for the day's "Big Red Event."
At 5:30 pm ET, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol -- perhaps feeling queasy on account of the Administration's newfound diplomacy and a public slap by George Will -- is likely to find a receptive crowd at an American Enterprise Institute book discussion with Frederick Kagan, author of "The View from a Rogue State: What Napoleon Can Tell Us about Dealing with Iran."
At 12:45 pm ET DCCC Chair Rahm Emanuel and DSCC Chair Chuck Schumer will host a conference call with reporters on protecting Ohio voters this fall.
RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman travels to New Mexico today where he will participate in local fundraisers and political events. All events are closed to the press.
DNC Chairman Howard Dean heads to a storm-torn St. Louis, MO today to kick off the College Democrats of America annual convention at 7:30 pm ET. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark is expected to appear before the group tomorrow and Gov. Tom Vilsack (R-IA) and Rep. Pelosi are slated to speak on Saturday.
President Bush and the NAACP:
The AP's Reichmann sets the stage for today's big speech including the fact that President Bush has met three times with the NAACP's Bruce Gordon during his year leading the organization compared to a single meeting with Kweisi Mfume during his tenure at the helm. LINK
Jeff Zeleny of the Chicago Tribune reports that Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Barack Obama (R-IL) warned those gathered at the NAACP convention not to be "bamboozled" by President Bush's promises in his upcoming speech to the organization. LINK
Sen. Lieberman's primary politics:
Quinnipiac University released a new poll this morning that will likely be the cause for some political chatter over the course of the next few days.
The poll shows 51 percent of likely Democratic primary voters favoring businessman/challenger Ned Lamont compared to 47 percent of likely Democratic primary voters supporting Sen. Lieberman. (Margin of error is +/- 3.8%.)
Back in June, Quinnipiac found Lieberman leading Lamont 55 percent to 40 percent, so clearly Lamont has made some gains -- which will come as no surprise to either camp.
As expected, the Iraq war seems to be Joe Lieberman's biggest problem in the eyes of the primary electorate.
However, it is important to Note that the poll shows Lieberman easily winning a 3-way contest in November if he runs as an independent. Lieberman announced that he is moving ahead with the petition process to secure his spot on the November ballot should he lose the August 8 Democratic primary.
ABC News' Jake Tapper reminds readers of his blog what Sen. Lieberman is all too aware of. . . When reading polls, it's the trend that matters. LINK
And if the new poll is not a strong enough peg for all you television folks, the Lieberman campaign announced today that Bill Clinton is scheduled to campaign with the Senator in Waterbury on Monday July 24.
Note: The amount of analysis the Clinton-Lieberman-Clinton-Dean-Lewinsky-Gore thingy is about to get boggles our minds. Release the bloggers!!!!
Although recent polls show Democrats leading in many races, "anyone who buys the early Democratic polls at face value is making a mistake," Stuart Rothenberg opines in typical must-read fashion in Roll Call; we have to wait until mid-October, when "Republicans have spent some of their sizable war chests on demonizing their opponents," to know whether Republicans will succeed in localizing the elections, in taking the focus off the GOP's national problems.
The Washington Post's Jim VandeHei has a "GOP source" saying that "House GOP leaders are privately discussing a pre-election plan to compromise with the Senate on legislation clamping down on lobbyists and member perks." The GOP source said that if Ney or other Republicans are indicted, "House leaders will drop their demands to include strict curbs on the special-interest election spending that favored Democrats in 2004 and quickly pass the lobbying bill to provide political cover to candidates." LINK
How long will it be until Rahm and Chuck call a press conference -- keying off this story -- to say: "Let's not wait for Bob Ney to get indicted, let's pass lobbying reform today"? And we are apparently 20 days away from when Ney's reported belief that a DOJ rule against indictments for MOCs within 90 days of an election kicks in.
The Washington Times' Greg Pierce has Newt Gingrich adeptly spinning Ralph Reed's loss: "Republican voters proved once again as they did in the [June 6] special election in San Diego. . . that a reform candidate who is vowing to change things will have a lot of appeal." LINK
Per the Hill's Jonathan Allen, Sen. John Thune (R-SD), considered by many to be Sen. Elizabeth Dole's (R-NC) successor as NRSC Chair, is advising GOP candidates to distance themselves from both Democrats and President Bush on Iraq in the midterm election.
Thune said that Republicans can gain from Democratic splits on national security but at the same time advised candidates to point out their disagreements with the President's handling of the war effort "and highlight them." LINK
The AP has Thune saying, "If I were running in the state this year, you obviously don't embrace the President and his agenda." LINK
Stem cell politics:
The Wall Street Journal's Sarah Lueck reports that Democrats said they would make stem cell research a campaign issue, targeting competitive races in Missouri, Montana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania where incumbent Republicans voted against expanded funding."
The San Francisco Chronicle has more. LINK
After President Bush politely declined to meet with Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) regarding her stem cell bill and followed through with his promise to veto it, Rep. DeGette has vowed to continue her fight to increase federal funding for research, one that she has been promoting for the past five years. The Rocky Mountain News has the story. LINK
More on President Bush's veto from the Denver Post. LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper researches the "Snowflake" babies on display in the White House East Room yesterday. LINK
Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times writes up President Bush's first veto, from the unusual press event (complete with standing ovation) to the gurgling Snowflake babies to the ramifications for Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT). LINK
Nedra Pickler of the AP also Notes that President Bush's stem cell veto could put some Republicans in a precarious situation in 2006. LINK
Rick Klein of the Boston Globe Notes President Bush's steadfast and unwavering decision on stem cell research has its roots back in 2001. LINK
The Washington Post: LINK
George E. Condon Jr. writes on the political hay Democrats are sure to try to make of the Administration's opposition to stem cell research: "Some Democrats have already tried to tap into [voter] unease [that the country is on the wrong track], particularly former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner -- the father of a diabetic -- who has been getting unexpected standing ovations when he promises 'an administration that believes in science.'" LINK
Politics of Iraq:
While speaking at the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday, House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) drew a sharp contrast between a Republican position of "strength" and "purpose" and a Democratic position of "weakness" and "indecisiveness" on the war in Iraq.
Following his remarks, Leader Boehner was reminded by ABC News that his sharp contrast was coming just one day after one of his own members -- Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-MN) -- had offered a grim assessment of the situation in Iraq. LINK
Asked if Congressman Gutknecht stands for "retreat in the face of adversity," as Boehner had accused the Democrats, or whether Boehner had "oversimplified the distinction between the parties on this issue," the chain-smoking Dean Martin look-alike said: "No, I think the distinction that I outlined is clear."
Boehner went on to say: "Is it difficult? Yes. But I think that the violence that we see underscores the kind of progress that's amazing."
To which Pelosi spokeswoman Jennifer Crider tells ABC News: "Once again Mr. Boehner is confusing the war on terror with the war in Iraq. The American people, Democrats, and now even some Republicans understand that the war in Iraq has not made us safer, has not made our military stronger, has damaged America's reputation in the world, and has hindered our fight against terrorism. Iraq is a mess, Osama bin Laden is still free, the Iranians are going nuclear, and the Middle East is exploding -- that's the Republican definition of progress in the region? No wonder the American people want a new direction."
Keying off of Rep. Gutknecht's grim assessment, recent hearings on Iraq chaired by Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT), and Sen. John Thune (R-SD) telling reporters at the National Press Club that if he were running for reelection this year, "you obviously don't embrace the president and his agenda," the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman and Anushka Asthana report that "congressional Republicans are shifting their message on the war from speaking optimistically of progress to acknowledging the difficulty of the mission and pointing up mistakes in planning and execution." LINK
Bush Administration agenda:
Peggy Noonan in her OpinionJournal.com column says that the media may prove to be larger obstacles to the President's successfully selling his agenda than his Democratic opponents. LINK
"Few are better positioned to lead the Bush administration's push for more open relationships with Congress than [Rob]Portman," writes The Hill in a rather rhapsodic profile of the new Office of Management and Budget director. LINK
Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) is ready to back John Bolten as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, per the Senator's Washington Post op-ed. LINK
Middle East politics:
"Never before have the United States and Israel been so close, and never before has support of Israel been so universal among American politicians. That inhibits the leverage Bush is able to exercise, on behalf of his country, as an honest broker seeking a peaceful solution in the Middle East," writes Bob Novak in his Chicago Sun-Times column. LINK
In a Rick Lazio-esque move, Leader John Boehner approached Leader Pelosi on the House floor to solicit her signature on a resolution to be voted on today to support Israel, the Hill's Patrick O'Connor Notes. Pelosi is waiting for a clause to limit civilian casualties, but Boehner says he'll move onward with or without her. LINK
Politics of immigration:
To the delight of Maria Cardona, the Washington Post's David Broder and Zachary Goldfarb write up the New Democratic Network's poll under a "Bush Rates Lower With Spanish-Speaking Voters" header. The survey of 600 Spanish-dominant Hispanics (a subgroup that allegedly makes up 4-5% of American voters) says that the gains that President Bush achieved in 2004, when these Hispanics split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, has sharply dissipated. The NDN reports that 59 percent of those polled would vote for a Democrat if the 2008 presidential election were today, and only 23 percent would support a Republican candidates. LINK
Note Broder's and Goldfarb's qualifier: "The survey, paid for by the NDN, an affiliate of the Democratic Party . . ."
USA Today's Kathy Kiely analyzes the immigration dilemma in November's battleground states, with a special focus on Pennsylvania and the always-quotable Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA). LINK
The New York Times' ed board writes that the immigration debate is standing as still as Washington's thick air, "becalmed and hot, going nowhere." LINK
As the investigation into Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) accelerates, the New York Times reports that the vice president of Nigeria has angrily denied he accepted bribes from him. LINK
Jeff Zeleny of the Chicago Tribune blogs at "The Swamp" that Sen. Obama has scored a high-profile Hawkeye State speaking gig. The freshman Senator from Illinois will headline Sen. Harkin's Sep. 17 must-attend steak fry, reports Zeleny. LINK
"Until now, Obama has taken great care to steer clear of Iowa, the state that traditionally launches the race for the White House. But accepting the invitation to appear on Harkin's high-profile stage Sept. 17 underscores the notion that Obama is not intent on tamping down speculation about his interest in the 2008 campaign," writes Zeleny.
Eating Zeleny's dust, Lynn Sweet posts the news six minutes later. LINK
DNC 2008 nomination calendar:
John DiStaso's always must-read Granite Status column spills much ink on the idea of Washington, DC sneaking in as the post-Iowa, pre-New Hampshire caucus as a compromise, since it isn't a "state" and therefore might not cause heartburn for New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner. We say: Don't count on it. LINK
Former Sen. Richard Bryan (D-NV) argues in Roll Call that Nevada is the perfect state in which to hold an additional early caucus or primary because "it gives voice to all our key constituencies" --minorities and organized labor, for example --and as a battleground state is "well-positioned to deliver electoral votes for the Democratic nominee on Election Day."
Arizona Democratic Party chairman David Waid makes the case for Arizona in his own Roll Call op-ed.
On the CBS "Early Show" this morning, Hannah Storm discussed the current situation in Lebanon with Sen. McCain, who declared that he can "certainly sympathize with the Lebanese people and the Lebanese government, but the Lebanese government doesn't have control of the country -- the Hezbollah does." Sen. McCain admitted that the major threat right now is Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons and that U.N. sanctions against Iran should be offered soon because the Iranians are clearly behind the Hezbollah attacks, but the situation is extremely difficult because "in other days we were dealing with governments, now we are dealing with terrorist organizations."
Scott Helman and Michael Paulson of the Boston Globe follow the Salt Lake Tribune and report on efforts by a Mormon filmmaker trying to launch a nationwide campaign to "demystify " Mormonism "in an effort to pave the way for a Romney presidential run." LINK
The AP plays catch-up too: LINK
"The checks going to Romney's Commonwealth PAC this year are. . . telling, and for the most part unsurprising. More than $1 million came from Utah, where Romney has had an eager fan club of wealthy businessmen and Mormons since he ran the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Much of the rest came from venture capitalists and other financiers, mostly from Massachusetts, including many of Romney's former colleagues at Bain & Co," writes the Boston Phoenix's David Bernstein. LINK
"No surprises there. But you might not have realized how popular our governor is among a demographic whose political influence is rarely discussed: homemakers," adds Bernstein.
In a column that praises a recent speech by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), the Washington Post's David Broder writes that he found it "heartening" to see Dr./Leader/Sen. Frist "speaking and acting as the leader of a bipartisan Senate majority on stem cells, rather than in his too familiar role as a spokesman or apologist for the president." LINK
Preview to DLC in Denver:
Sen. Clinton walked purposefully into a ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Wednesday to unveil the first component of her American Dream Initiative. Consistent with her strategy of uniting all the non-Kossack strands of the Democratic Party, Sen. Clinton began by ticking off the various Democratic think tanks -- the Center for American Progress, the Progressive Policy Institute, the New Democratic Network, Third Way, and Hope Street -- who played a role in developing her plan to produce one million more college graduates by 2015.
At the core of her college plan is the same "basic bargain" of more opportunity for all and more responsibility from all that her husband talked about in 1992. The "American Dream Grant" would award states $150 billion over 10 years to reduce tuition and increase graduation rates; it would also consolidate existing education tax credits into a new $3,000 refundable tax credit. The goal is to make it possible for "any student willing to work part-time or perform community service" to go to four years of college tuition free. In the hopes of spurring universities to improve their graduation rates, the block grant would be tied to both the number of students that a state has as well as the number of graduates it produces.
The DLC's Bruce Reed told ABC News following the event that it would be up to the states to decide how to structure the work requirement, how much community service to require, and whether to require students to maintain a particular grade point average to qualify and remain eligible. The plan's benefits would be universal -- though its proponents expect it to have the biggest impact on lower income families who are more likely to send their kids to lower-priced schools. As Sen. Clinton, Gov. Vilsack, and Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) write in today's Denver Post, their plan is to pay for it by "getting rid of wasteful business subsidies." LINK
The Des Moines Register reports on all this: LINK
On Monday, more than 375 elected officials from 42 states will gather in Denver to roll out the rest of the DLC's American Dream Initiative. Other components of the agenda include home ownership, children's health insurance, "building wealth from day one," and encouraging businesses to "equip workers with the same tools of success as management."
Asked if a new president was needed to implement her college plan, Sen. Clinton said: "I think it just requires a change in Congress. And we're going to get that in November."
The Denver Post reports that as Democrats prepare to gather in the Mile High City this weekend, they plan to study the successful centrist campaign of Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) with the hopes of strategizing for a Democratic comeback in 2006 and 2008. LINK
GOP lawmakers plan to use their credibility advantage on defense and foreign policy strategically in this election year, including more and more domestic issues under the broad category of national security issues. Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) offered a preview of the tactic: "We're going home [in August] with a series of strong actions that relate to an unsettled world." Roll Call's Ben Pershing has the story:
An eastern Iowa congressional race saw the release of its first ad yesterday, in which Democratic nominee Bruce Braley shelled out $400,000 to slam Republican Mike Whalen for allegedly opposing an increase in the minimum wage. The Des Moines Register has the story. LINK
The incomparable Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report explains why VA-02 has been moved to the "toss-up" category.
"In recent contests Democrats have either had a candidate who was well-funded (like Wagner), or had a good profile (like 2004 nominee David Ashe, a Marine reservist who served in Iraq), but have not been able to find a candidate who had both those attributes. This year, they have a candidate with a significant base in the district who has also shown an ability to raise money. On top of it all, Democrats are currently running with the wind at their backs instead of in their faces. There is little doubt that this will be a close contest, though the Republican lean of the district may be enough to save this seat for Drake in the end. We have moved this race to Toss-up."
The Houston Chronicle's Ratcliffe is reporting that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott will step in to defend former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) by asking the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the ruling that Republicans can't replace DeLay on the November ballot. LINK
The Rocky Mountain News' Chris Barge reports that Rep. Rick O'Donnell dispelled all Notions of attempts to distance himself from President Bush as he agreed to travel with the President from Washington, DC to Colorado on Air Force One. President Bush is scheduled to stump for Rep. O'Donnell in his home district and expected to raise nearly $500,000 for the campaign, adding to his already-extensive campaign fund of $1.2 million. LINK
US News and World Report's Bret Schulte reports that footage of a burning World Trade Center used in a hard-hitting ad that Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) was running against Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) was "doctored." LINK
"'This particular image is impossible,' says W. Gene Corley, a structural engineer who led FEMA's building performance study on the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks. . . 'The north tower was hit first [so] the south tower could not be burning without the North Tower burning.' Corley also says, 'the smoke is all wrong.' The day of the attacks, the plumes of ash were drifting to the southeast. 'The smoke on 9/11 was never in a halo like that,' Corley says."
DeWine's office acknowledged the error and has instructed his campaign to replace the graphic representation of the Twin Towers with a picture, his office said in a statement on Wednesday evening.
Roll Call reports the Maryland Eastern Shore's most significant gathering took place yesterday in the form of the 30th annual J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake, "the place where everyone comes to sweat together"; GOP Senate candidate and Lt. Governor Michael Steele (R-MD) was indisputably "the rock star of the day," considering Democratic frontrunners Rep. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-MD) failed to show.
Republicans contend that Sen. Maria Cantwell's (D-WA) recent request for the FEC to clarify the specifics of the "Millionaires' Amendment" to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which allows opponents of wealthy candidates to break individual contribution limits, proves she is "running scared" from her well-heeled opponent, Mike McGavick, per Roll Call.
Tom Beaumont of the Des Moines Register analyzes the fundraising match-up between Rep. Jim Nussle (R-IA) and Democrat Chet Culver in what promises to be a tight gubernatorial race in Iowa. LINK
The bruising primary battle between Charlie Crist and Tom Gallagher for the GOP's gubernatorial nomination in Florida has divided the state's biggest Republican fundraisers, President Bush's "Rangers and Pioneers," the "Florida money men [Gov. Jeb Bush relied on] to steer millions to the Florida Republican Party and to his and his brother's campaigns and inaugural parties." The Miami Herald's Mary Ellen Klas reports: LINK
The two Republican gubernatorial candidates clashed yesterday on embryonic stem cell research, writes the Miami Herald's Gary Fineout, with Gallagher backing President Bush's veto and Crist saying "he would have voted" for the Senate bill ("I actually applaud Nancy Reagan," Crist added). LINK
The Schwarzenegger Era:
Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton pens a memo to the Angelides campaign on how to make the most of these dreary summer months. LINK
House of Labor:
The Wall Street Journal's ed board celebrates yesterday's ruling by federal District Judge J. Frederick Motz that Maryland's Fair Share Health Care Fund Act, which the Journal characterizes as a "miniature" version of "HillaryCare" because of its employer mandate on large employers, is pre-empted by ERISA, a federal law whose purpose is to allow "large companies to have uniform nationwide employee benefit plans."
TV bookers, take Note: Per the New York Post's gossipy Page Six, NBA superstar and former conservative Charles Barkley tells a local news reporter, "I used to be a Republican, before they lost their minds." LINK