Under a splashy "Elections May Leave Bush An Early Lame Duck" headline, the Washington Post's Peter Baker and Michael Fletcher report that President Bush "has been meeting privately with Cabinet secretaries in recent weeks to map out an agenda for his final two years in office. The White House says it is not making contingency plans for a Democratic win, but Bush advisers are bracing for what they privately recognize is the increasing likelihood." LINK
"A Democratic victory, analysts in both parties said, could mean that some of Bush's tax cuts would not be renewed, attempts to revive his Social Security investment plan would be doomed and efforts to further broaden national security powers in the face of civil liberties concerns would be thwarted."
"Most worrisome to the White House is the subpoena power that Democrats would gain . . ."
The Washington Times' Stephen Dinan looks at the wrangling between the White House and Congress over the signing of a bill authorizing 700 miles of fence on the U.S.-Mexico border. President Bush has already signed a spending bill with money for some fencing, but has yet to sign the bill actually authorizing the double-wall fence along nearly 700 miles of the border.The questions being worked out are: when will he sign it? And: will it be signed in public or private? LINK
Politics of Iraq:
Columnist Tom Friedman of the New York Times calls the violence in Iraq the biggest "October surprise" of the 2006 election cycle, penning that if violence continues to escalate, then Bush may be left with only his dog Barney's support. LINK
Sen. Hutchison (R-TX), the President's Senator, has described the situation in Iraq as "chaos" and now believes its time to consider splitting the country into semiautonomous regions, Notes the Dallas Morning News. LINK
The Washington Post is reporting that it has learned of a "potentially inappropriate incident" involving Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and a male who was a page at the time of the incident. LINK
The former page "recently told the House clerk's office and the FBI about an encounter with the Arizona Republican that occurred about five years ago when he was 16, according to someone familiar with the man's account. The page told authorities that he was 'uncomfortable with a particular social encounter' that involved physical contact when he and Kolbe were alone, the source said yesterday."
"Kolbe, the only openly gay Republican in Congress, will retire this year." The AP's Larry Margasak also looks into reports of Kolbe's camping trips with former staffers and pages in 1996. LINK
Foley: political fallout:
Johanna Neuman of the Los Angeles Times has an edgey look at how some members of the socially conservative wing of the Republican Party are striking back against gay influence within the party. Some social conservatives are calling for a "pink purge" charging that the GOP's effort to broaden its appeal is potentially depressing the base. Be sure to Note the reaction to Secretary Rice's swearing-in ceremony for US Global AIDS Coordinator Mark Dybul, as well as the near naming of names. LINK
With less than three weeks until the election, aides to the House Republican leadership are trying to steer the national media away from the Foley scandal and saturate local press outlets with their messages on Iraq and taxes. The Hill's Patrick O'Connor has more. LINK