The Note: Independent Fighters Under Ken Mehlman's Direction

WASHINGTON, Sep. 15

President Bush comes into the Rose Garden at 11:15 am ET to talk to the world through some interaction with the White House media.

The President knows that said press corps will always side with Colin Powell over George W. Bush, and he doesn't much care. What the White House DOES care about is dominating every news cycle for the next 53 days. So today's way is: a press conference.

While we wait. . . .

Remember: All the Gang of 500 cares about is who controls the House and Senate come January.

While 498 of them sit back and make weekend plans (while recovering from Wednesday's Sally-and-Ben-in-a-tent showing of HBO's fabulous "Mr. Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater" LINK), two Gang members close the week for the rest of us with really good (a/k/a must read code breaking) explanations of Where We Are.

From the womanly Right: Peggy Noonan on wsj.com's miraculous opinionjournal.com (with a KAFC cameo): LINK

"The Democrats' mistake--ironically, in a year all about Mr. Bush--is obsessing on Mr. Bush. They've been sucker-punched by their own animosity."

"'The Democrats now are incapable of answering a question on policy without mentioning Bush six times,' says pollster Kellyanne Conway. '"What is your vision on Iraq?" 'Bush lied us into war." "Health care? "Bush hasn't a clue." They're so obsessed with Bush it impedes them from crafting and communicating a vision all their own.' They heighten Bush by hating him."

"One of the oldest clichés in politics is, 'You can't beat something with nothing.' It's a cliché because it's true. You have to have belief, and a program. You have to look away from the big foe and focus instead on the world and philosophy and programs you imagine."

"Mr. Bush's White House loves what the Democrats are doing. They want the focus on him. That's why he's out there talking, saying Look at me."

From the manly Left: E.J. Dionne proves once again that Brookings isn't totally clouding his mind: LINK

"The United States is witnessing a centralization and nationalization of politics unprecedented in our history. This trend is rooted in the rise of the political consulting industry, vast changes in the technology of campaigning, and the intense competition between the two major parties for control of Congress. . . ."

"Even turning away from your party can be a national partisan strategy, and Republicans are hoping to hold Congress by electing a herd of 'independent fighters.' At least five Republican candidates describe themselves with that phrase. New Jersey Senate candidate Tom Kean Jr. calls himself an 'independent fighter,' and so do Sen. Mike DeWine of Ohio and Reps. Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, Heather Wilson of New Mexico and Vito Fossella of New York. . . ."

"So in 2006 the local is not really local, everything is about controlling Washington, and "independence" is a product being franchised by a national party apparatus."

Noonan and Dionne are smart partisans -- too smart to think only inside their respective partisan boxes. Go read both pieces in their entirety, and then resume reading The Note, while you wait for the President's words to change everything.

The New York Times and others are reporting that former Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) "has agreed to plead guilty to federal criminal charges related to his dealings with the corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff." LINK

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