The Note: Laying Traps For Troubadors

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25

This week's known unknowns, leading up to the midterm elections:

1. Will Democrats take what Jay Carson and Howard Wolfson call the "Chappaqua Hint" and realize that the Clintons' aggressive pushback against formidable targets such as ABC Entertainment, Fox News, Jerry Falwell, and John Spencer is meant in part to set an example for how they want the party to behave between now and Election Day?

(Anticipating skulls thinker than skins, Carson keeps saying about the Chris Wallace interview, "President Clinton fought back hard, just like any Democrat should when they are attacked with a baseless attack.")

2. Which is more likely -- that Republicans on the Hill work out their intraparty differences on immigration, budget, and security issues before adjournment, or that, despite all the Gang of 500 hand-wringing, no real voters Notice or care?

3. Will Obama communications czar Robert Gibbs demand a bonus system whereby he gets paid extra from the book royalty kitty every time he hustles to get his boss some favorable coverage?

4. Will RNC/NRCC/NRSC/value of AF1-Rose Garden/allied group spending be greater than/less than/equal to DNC/DCCC/DSCC/House of Labor/allied group spending?

5. Which candidates are being secretly advised by Bob Shrum?

6. Which struggling candidates will be smart enough to quickly buy and read "Applebee's America," before it's too late? LINK

7. Will George Allen do some soul searching, bridge building, house cleaning, and/or head clearing, before it's too late?

8. Will candidates and campaign managers who Rahm makes cry have a better or worse won/loss records than those who shed no tears?

9. Will the Medicare prescription drug benefit (and the ill-timed doughnut hole press coverage) be a net plus or net minus for the Republicans?

10. Which struggling candidates will be smart enough to quickly buy and read "The Way to Win," before it's too late? LINK

11. What will the White House do below the radar of the national media to leverage presidential trips (such as this week's jaunts to Connecticut, Alabama, Tennessee, and Ohio (twice!!)) in a way that reaches the base? (Get on that, Mike Allen.)

With the President on the road, Democrats are planning to use a 1:30 pm ET hearing of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee to keep attention focused on a recently disclosed National Intelligence Estimate which shows, according to news reports, that the war in Iraq has made the terrorism problem worse.

As previewed by the AP's David Espo, retired military officers are expected to "bluntly accuse Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld of bungling the war in Iraq, saying U.S. troops were sent to fight without the best equipment and that critical facts were hidden from the public." LINK

"I believe that Secretary Rumsfeld and others in the administration did not tell the American people the truth for fear of losing support for the war in Iraq," retired Maj. Gen. John R. S. Batiste is expected to say.

A second witness, retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, is expected to assess Rumsfeld as "incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically …."

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, addresses the National Press Club on legal issues relating to the detainees in Guantanamo Bay, NSA wiretapping, and immigration legislation at 1:00 p.m. ET in Washington, DC.

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