WASHINGTON, July 21
You could spend your weekend focusing on when Secretary Rice is going to head to the region or when/if President Bush will pick up the phone to speak directly with Prime Minister Olmert about Israel's current military operation and what it all means for the future of American diplomacy in the Middle East and around the world.
Or you could spend your weekend focusing on what truly matters -- Election Day 2006 and Election Day 2008 -- by paying attention to the key stories below and asking yourself this vital question: Is the Democratic Party on the right track or the wrong track to break from recent electoral patterns and achieve victory in the next two national elections?
1. Showing what a little shoe leather can get you, the AP's David Espo reports that House Democrats have reserved time for more than $30 million worth of campaign ads this fall in "roughly two dozen congressional districts, with a heavy emphasis on the Northeast and Midwest." LINK
2. The Wall Street Journal's Jackie Calmes reports that disgruntled Republican moderates could pose a threat to the GOP in some suburban congressional districts, in part because of the stem cell issue. LINK
3. Bloomberg's Forsythe and Jensen report that the McEntee-lead 501(c)(4) healthcare and energy advocacy group "Communities United to Strengthen America" opened 12 "resource centers" in strategic locales in the country aimed to target Republican-held congressional districts in November. (Ask yourself what Ken Mehlman thinks of this story.) LINK
4. In a front page story, USA Today's Jill Lawrence reports on a resurgence in union membership across the nation and the two main umbrella organizations playing nicely together, which has allowed the House of Labor to move forward with plans to spend $40 million on voter turn out this fall. LINK
5. Will Lester of the Associated Press sets the stage for THE political event of the weekend -- the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee will vote to determine which states will join the prestigious (and early) ranks of Iowa and New Hampshire in the 2008 nomination process. If you are a Democrat from Arizona, Nevada, South Carolina, or Alabama, it could be a nail-biting day. LINK
The Rules and Bylaws Committee is likely to ignore the groans of former President Clinton and many 2008 hopefuls who oppose the change, Notes Lester.
6. In his DLC curtain-raiser, Josh Gerstein of the New York Sun Notes the four '08ers expected to be on hand (Clinton, Vilsack, Richardson, and Bayh) and the liberal bloggers versus centrist DLCers divide under the big top Democratic Party tent. LINK
7. With Ned Lamont on the rise in the polls and Bill Clinton headed to campaign with Joe Lieberman in Connecticut, watch the guaranteed coverage between now and August 8. LINK
8. Charlie "Yoda" Cook remains skeptical that 2006 is similar to 2002 and 2004. "So, will national security issues again work to the advantage of the GOP this fall, or has that well run dry for the party? Although it would be hard to argue these days that Democrats' credibility on national security issues has gone up -- they can't seem to agree on much -- it is equally hard to say that the Republicans have the edge on this issue that they had as recently as two years ago," writes Cook in his National Journal column.
The men who get to fly on Air Force One and Air Force Two clearly seem to understand the importance of keeping their eyes on the 2006 ball.