The Note: Running in a New Direction

WASHINGTON, August 1

Is going in a New Direction the same as Cutting and Running?

Whatever the outcome of Joe Lieberman's Connecticut Senate primary one week from today, in all likelihood, the Democratic Party's chances of taking control of the House will depend on convincing the American people that they have a better way forward in Iraq.

Yesterday's letter issued by 12 senior Democrats -- including both Leaders -- adds no specifics about how many troops should be withdrawn or how rapidly. But the Democrats' missive to President Bush garnered lots of positive print coverage this morning, in which they urged him to begin withdrawing U.S. troops by the end of the year. And it just might represent some minority party cohesion.

It is a mortal lock that by Election Day, a majority of the American people (and the vast majority of the Old Media) will believe that the country is on the wrong track, that the war in Iraq is not going well, and that the Bush White House has made more than a few mistakes.

What is a less certain bet is that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid can capture the energy behind those views, add a healthy dose of optimism about how tomorrow will be better than today if Democrats control Congress, and organize, organize, organize.

But with Castro ceding power, the Middle East on fire, Iraq a killing field, and (did we mention?) the wrong track number sky high, Ken Mehlman will tell you: Stay the Course. PelosiReid will tell you: America needs a New Direction.

Conclusion: if the 2006 midterm elections are held on paper, Democrats will take the House.

(Note: at this time, there are no plans to hold the midterms on paper.)

And/but then there is the culture war, whose political benefits seem to benefit the two warring sides unequally.

Less than a year after the Kansas State Board of Education adopted rules for teaching science at odds with Charles Darwin's theory about evolution, three incumbent Republican conservatives and the political heir to a fourth are facing primary election challenges today that could result in a reversal of state science standards.

After a busy day on the beaches of Miami, President Bush is expected to get good marks when he undergoes his annual physical today. The 60-year-old Bush choppered to Bethesda's National Naval Medical Center this morning, arriving at 8:00 am ET. He's scheduled to arrive back at the White House by 1:35 pm ET.

In his first speech since leaving Goldman Sachs to take his current job as Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson delivers an 11:15 am ET address on the economy at Columbia University. The speech is sandwiched between two other stops: in the morning he tours the New York Stock Exchange, and at the end of the day he rings the closing bell on the NASDAQ.

While the House is in recess until Sept. 6, a final vote is expected as the Senate nears approval on an offshore oil and gas drilling bill. The bill would open more than 8 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling. More from the New York Times: LINK

Former President Clinton is in Los Angeles today raising money for Phil Angelides, the Democrat running against Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggeer (R-CA).

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