The Note: Brutal Honesty

Roll Call's Erin Billings reports on the White House's intensified lobbying efforts with Congress, as President Bush tries to press his priorities with a Democratically-controlled legislature and a narrowing window of time.

Texas Monthly's must-read edition:

In the forthcoming issue of Texas Monthly, former Bush strategist Matthew Dowd writes that President Bush's gut-level bond with the American people "may be lost" and that "wholesale change" is needed in Iraq. LINK

"Sending in a small contingent of troops is likely going to be seen as not helpful," Dowd writes.

"He'd be much better off with the public if he said, 'This is a mess, we made mistakes, and the only way to fix it is a wholesale change.' And that could mean either a serious increase in troop strength or withdrawal."

Dowd opines that Bush's problems stem from his success in the 2002 midterm elections. "...when all the levers of power in Washington became Republican, creating consensus seemed to become unnecessary at the White House."

Of course, these are all things that others have said before. But Dowd's comments are sure to get lots of attention in Washington because of the very senior role that he played for Bush's presidential campaigns.

He was Bush's "senior strategist" in 2000 and his "chief strategist" in 2004.

Dowd is one of 15 prominent people who offered thoughts on Bush's legacy to Texas Monthly in individual essays. The others are: Douglas Brinkley, Robert Caro, Bobby Inman, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Robert Dallek, Michael Lind, Paul Begala, Niall Ferguson, Elspeth Rostow, H.W. Brands, Donald L. Evans, Marvin Olasky, and Bruce Bartlett.

The cover depicts a not-yet-finished portrait of President Bush.

GOP agenda:

In his column today, Bob Novak takes aim at the "chicken Republicans," after acquiescing to Senate Democrats on a continuing resolution on spending. LINK

Writes Novak: "The GOP defeat would have been a plausible outcome if Democrats held a commanding Senate majority. In fact, the Senate margin is 51 to 49, with Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota hospitalized and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut barely a Democrat. What ails Senate Republicans is lack of principle and lack of will, two reasons why they lost the 2006 elections."

2008:

In an on-line column that is full of hyperlinks, the Washington Post's David Broder writes about how presidential candidates are choosing their announcement venues, and gives highest marks to Vilsack and Obama for picking a home venue. LINK

ABC News' Susan Donaldson James looks at the impact blogging is likely to have on the presidential campaign. The Associated Press reports on continued efforts in the Texas legislature to move its primary up to February 5, 2008. LINK

2008: Republicans:

ABC News' Jake Tapper and Sheila Evans offer a story on the GOP contenders all vying for support from social conservatives and to do so, perhaps changing their tunes. Sen. McCain has agreed to speak at the Clark County Republican Party's Lincoln Day dinner on April 19 in Las Vegas, NV. And he is not the only GOP presidential candidate planning travel to the Silver State. Gov. Romney is scheduled to hold a March 12 fundraiser at the Four Seasons in Las Vegas. The Review-Journal's Molly Ball has the details. LINK

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