The Note: CGI Friday

WASHINGTON, Sep. 22:

First, what we've learned and, then, what we will learn.

WHAT WE HAVE (RE)LEARNED THIS WEEK:

1. President Bush will make taxes a central part of his homestretch message.

2. The Old Media will favor Senator McCain and Secretary Powell over President Bush in every dispute, no matter what the merits.

3. Senator Allen, under scrutiny and under pressure, is not like butter -- or, if he is like butter, it is butter on steak and shrimp (Note: that joke is mostly for our Forward-thinking readers.)

4. Congressman Emanuel's shop drives a more aggressive messaging operation than Howard Dean's.

5. Bill Clinton can draw a crowd.

6. Wal-mart is fighting back.

7. House Republicans are willing to throw PhRMA from the sled (for now).

8. David Sanger LINK, David Ignatius LINK, and David Rogers LINKare all amazing reporters. 9. The press plans to overreact to polls of Americans and registered voters for a good long while -- even though likely/actual voters will decide this thing.

WHAT WE WILL LEARN IN THE NEXT 120 HOURS

1. If Bill Frist can take a proper victory lap these days, when he appears on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." 2. How Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR), Newt Gingrich, and Sen. George Allen (R-VA) will rise to the occasion when they appear at the Family Research Council's "Values Voter Summit" in Washington, starting today. LINK

(Insert your own Allen joke here.)

3. How The Man Who Would Be Judiciary Committee Chair (Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)) comes across as the Democratic National Committee hosts an African-American summit in the Motor City.

4. How the Democrats' bracketing skills are humming these days, when the President travels to the kind of states that Howard Fineman would call "politically vital," including Connecticut, Ohio, and California.

5. How the world reacts to Adam Nagourney's Sunday New York Times Magazine profile of Ken Mehlman, which includes (1) Mehlman reportedly acknowledging privately in the spring that Republicans could lose the House; (2) the fact that there are seven states Mehlman hasn't been to as chair -- quick name them; (3) one -- on the record -- quote from Karl C. Rove ("He's anal-retentive, man!" he says about Mehlman); (4) one amazing Mehlman quote ("My answer to Hurricane Katrina was Hurricane Ouzo."); another amazing Mehlman quote regarding Rove ("I don't know -- I think a bunch of us were architects."); and "Mehlman's friends" saying they doubt he will stay on as chair after the midterms.

As for today, President Bush welcomes Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf to the White House and holds a 10:10 am ET joint press availability with him.  Later today, President and Mrs. Bush partake in a series of photo opportunities including one with the 2006 National Spelling Bee champion.

Former President Clinton concludes his CGI conference today with his 11:00 am ET closing address in New York City. On Sunday, Clinton campaigns for Gov. Jim Doyle (D-WI) in Milwaukee.

The Family Research Council begins its three-day "Values Voter Summit 2006" in Washington, DC. Today Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), Sen. George Allen (R- VA), Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AK) are among the speakers.  Check out the entire schedule here: LINK

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