The Note: Wagons and Firing Squads


On Iraq, congressional Democrats and their 2008 presidential candidates are (moving towards being) united on how to proceed.

But in forging bicameral plans that can (maybe) win majorities, Democrats have (re)united congressional Republicans (and Joe Lieberman) in support of the President's Iraq policy. And Barack Obama makes it clear in an interview with the phone-obsessed John DiStaso of the Union Leader that Democratic Senators don't care much for their House partymates' Iraq plan. LINK

The Republican decision to hang together is a short-term problem for Democrats and their desire to end the war. (But as the Washington Post's Dan Balz and Shailagh Murray report in a must read, Iraq could be a looming 2008 problem for Republicans. LINK)

On Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, congressional Democrats and their 2008 presidential candidates are (mostly) united on how to proceed.

And/but because congressional Republicans maintain their reflexive public loyalty (their private thoughts notwithstanding), they are not calling for the departure of the Attorney General. (And the Wall Street Journal page is SO back on the Rove reservation, making it all about Webb Hubbell in their ultimate must-read editorial for those who wish to understand how the battle lines are now drawn. LINK)

But/and as the blind quotes in the must-read New York Times story by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Jeff Zeleny make clear, some Bush loyalists are using the Gray Lady to signal to Gonzales that it is time for him to go.

The Times duo smuggle into their lede piece two anonymous sources who play the national security card against the President's close personal friend!! LINK

"The two Republicans, who spoke anonymously so they could share private conversations with senior White House officials, said top aides to Mr. Bush, including Fred F. Fielding, the new White House counsel, were concerned that the controversy had so damaged Mr. Gonzales's credibility that he would be unable to advance the White House agenda on national security matters, including terrorism prosecutions."

One of the Timespersons' "close to the Bush administration" sources says, "I really think there's a serious estrangement between the White House and Alberto now."

And the other one says this: "They're taking it seriously . . . I think Rove and Bolten believe there is the potential for erosion of the president's credibility on this issue."

Note to the AG: you better figure out who those two sources are -- if you want to know what your chances are.

(And, from the same Times' story, in order to help out Frank Rich and Paul Krugman, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) says this, with no apparent irony: "I think there are times where you just have to do what you feel is right, and this is one of those times.")

Despite Gonzales energetic round of morning show appearances (nearly the full Ginsberg), the brutal filleting by Ruth Marcus on the Washington Post op-ed page LINK makes clear that not all the questions have been answered quite yet.

At press time, Gonzales' schedule could not be determined.

"After months of talk -- and several different Democratic (and some previously bipartisan) proposals on Iraq -- today is the Iraq debate day in the Senate," reports ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf. "There will likely be a cloture vote at 11:00 am ET on the Reid / Pelosi Iraq withdrawal language. Republican Leader McConnell has signaled that Republicans will support cloture. So technically we will have a debate on the Iraq resolution. But it's unclear that Democrats have the 50 votes they would need for passage and it's assured that they don't have 60. And while Republicans will technically allow the debate, they will still subject the Iraq resolution to a 60 vote threshold. So this is a bit of a legislative shell game for both parties," adds Wolf. LINK

Wolf also reports that "it's still unclear if the debate will last for today only or if it will spill into tomorrow."

The influential International Association of Fire Fighters (with its bipartisan membership) hosts its presidential forum at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill. Here's the line-up of speakers:

8:30 am ET: IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger

9:00 am ET: Sen. John Edwards (D-NC)

9:30 am ET: Gov. James Gilmore (R-VA)

10:00 am ET: Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL)

10:30 am ET: Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)

11:00 am ET: Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY)

12:30 pm ET: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

1:00 pm ET: Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE)

1:30 pm ET: Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT)

2:00 pm ET: Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS)

2:30 pm ET Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM)

3:00 pm ET: Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE)

Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) avoids the potential hub-bub with the firefighters and attends a 6:00 pm ET (open press) fundraising reception at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers in New York City. Former SNL cast member Dennis Miller is expected to play emcee for the evening.

Attempting to win back control of his public image, Sen. McCain heads to Iowa where he will campaign in Alton, IA at a soup dinner at the Sioux Golf and Country Club at 7:00 pm ET.

In addition to the IAFF cattle call, Sen. Clinton and Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) hold a 10:15 am ET press conference to announce an initiative in both chambers of Congress to provide access to healthcare coverage for all children. The New York Times' Robert Pear has the details. LINK

Later this evening, Sen. Clinton speaks at the Vital Voices "Women Changing Our World" Gala at 7:30 pm ET at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.

Sen. Edwards continues his college tour with a 2:00 pm ET event at Howard University in Washington, DC.

Gov. Richardson delivers the 7:45 am ET keynote address to the Bear Stearns Global Oil and Gas Conference in New York City. The event is closed to the press. Later this evening, Gov. Richardson plans to attend a campaign fundraiser in Cleveland, OH.

Sen. Brownback starts his day with the firefighters by receiving the Defender of Economic Freedom Award from the Club for Growth at a 9:00 am ET ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.

Sen. Dodd delivers 10:00 am ET remarks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Capital Markets Summit in Washington, DC.

Gov. Tommy Thompson (R-WI) is also in Iowa, beginning with a 10:20 am ET address to the Iowa House Republican Caucus in Des Moines, IA, followed by a 1:30 pm ET lunch with Linn County Republicans at Konstantino's in Cedar Rapids, IA, and ending with a 7:30 pm ET keynote address to a Clinton County GOP Fundraising Dinner in Clinton, IA.

Gen. Wesley Clark attends a 7:30 pm ET event for Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century at the Taj Lounge in New York City.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) gives an 8:00 pm ET address at Goucher College in Baltimore, MD.

Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) is in New Hampshire, where he gives a 7:30 am ET interview to the Charlie Sherman Radio Show on WGIR-AM, followed by a 9:00 am ET interview on New Hampshire Public Radio, 89.1. He then holds a 10:15 am ET meeting with employees at Northeast Delta Dental, followed by a noon ET luncheon at the New Hampshire State Library in Concord, NH. He then participates in a 2:15 pm ET taping of "Conversation with the Candidates" at the WMUR-TV studio (airing at a later date), and ends the day with a 6:30 pm ET house party in Bedford, NH.

President Bush begins his last day in Mexico by greeting the Training, Internships, Exchanges and Scholarships recipients at 10:45 am ET, followed by a 12:10 pm ET joint press conference with Mexico's President Felipe Calderon. The President is scheduled to return to the White House at 4:20 pm ET.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley (D-IL) appear at a 7:00 pm ET fundraising reception at the Hilton Chicago in Chicago, IL.

DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) are expected to be joined by freshman House Democrats at a 2:00 pm ET press conference on the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2007.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) attend the American Ireland Fund's 7:30 pm ET National Gala at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party sponsors a 6:00 pm ET discussion on New Hampshire's "first in the nation" primary status at St. Anselm College in Manchester, NH, with Gov. John Lynch (D-NH).

Politics of prosecutorial independence:

"In an exclusive interview. . . on "Good Morning America," Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, for the first time called for the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales," reported ABC News' Jake Tapper and Cindy Smith. LINK

"'The buck should stop somewhere,' Clinton told ABC News senior political correspondent Tapper, 'and the attorney general -- who still seems to confuse his prior role as the president's personal attorney with his duty to the system of justice and to the entire country -- should resign.'"

"I'm not happy" about the way this was handled, said Attorney General Gonzales to ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America." Gonzales was asked when he last spoke to the President about this and he said that he spoke to him "shortly before he left on his trip to Latin America."

"I didn't become Attorney General by quitting," said Gonzales on CBS News' "Early Show" as a part of his morning show rounds.

On NBC's "Today," Gonzales said that he had a general idea that there was "some communication" between his chief of staff and Harriet Miers on the subject of prosecutors.

Wall Street Journal: "Gonzales Testimony Is Undercut" LINK

Democrats renewed calls Tuesday for testimony from Rove and Miers, report the Washington Post's Dan Eggen and Paul Kane. LINK

"The White House signaled that it would resist the demands," they write.

"Familiar Fallback for Officials: 'Mistakes Were Made'," headlines the New York Times' John Broder on the federal prosecutor controversy and the history of the passive voice of error. LINK

"'Loyalty to Bush and Gonzales Was Factor in Prosecutors' Firings, E-Mail Shows," headlines David Johnston and Eric Lipton's New York Times piece on the possible motives within the Bush Administration. LINK

The White House cites lax voter-fraud investigations in U.S. Attorneys' rirings, reports the Washington Post's Amy Goldstein. LINK

The AP's Tim Korte has an interview with former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias who says that he was allowed to list AG Gonzales as a reference on his resume, which he says shows his firing was not performance related, but political. LINK

Gonzales is finding luke warm comfort from some Senate Republicans while Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) prepares a congressional investigation into the firings, reports ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf. LINK

"I accept responsibility for what happened here," said Gonzales, responding to the firing of U.S. Attorneys. ABC News' Pierre Thomas, Jason Ryan, and Theresa Cook give us the story. LINK

See the video of Gonzales' response here: LINK

Politics of Iraq:

"With the Senate poised for a showdown on Iraq today, Republicans along the campaign trail and on Capitol Hill appear trapped between their loyalty to President Bush and growing fears about the war's impact on the party's political fortunes," report the Washington Post's Dan Balz and Shailagh Murray. LINK

The three leading contenders for the GOP nomination -- McCain, Giuliani, and Romney -- all support the troop increase, "which has helped to dampen debate about the plan on the campaign trail."

An unnamed strategist working for one GOP presidential campaign said "unity among Republicans over the war is to be expected, given the attitudes toward terrorism and national security. But he added that there is a 'chasm' between the views of rank-and-file Republicans and of the independents and moderate Democrats whose votes may be needed in 2008."

"'It's like two different worlds,' he said. 'One is the family and the other is the general election, and Republicans are like, 'We'll deal with this later.' '"

No, you are not in some sort of strange political time warp that has landed you all the way back in 2006. The DSCC is launching a new web video today going after its top tier GOP targets for "opposing change of course in Iraq" and being supportive of the President's plan to "escalate" American military presence in Iraq. LINK

(Of course, now that Sen. McConnell is allowing the debate to move forward, this may prove a bit trickier of a sell in the short term.)

"Several Republican leaders said they would relish the debate, which they said would highlight the flaws and dangers of what they asserted was Democratic 'micromanagement' of the war," writes the New York Times Robin Toner on the new tactics of Republican lawmakers. LINK

Roll Call's John Stanton and Jennifer Yachnin report that Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and John Warner (R-VA) are "quietly" discussing yet another bipartisan Iraq war resolution.

Ian Swanson of The Hill writes about Speaker Pelosi's speech yesterday to AIPAC where she received boos and light applause when discussing Iraq, compared to the loud applause House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) received when discussing the same issue. LINK

"GOP vows not to block debate on troop pullout," reports the Washington Times' S.A Miller and Christina Bellatoni: LINK

Politics of Ron Brownstein's move to the op-ed page:

In his much-anticipated debut on the op-ed pages of the Los Angeles Times, Ron Brownstein cites the criticism of "General Pelosi" recently offered by his own newspaper's editorial board and writes that Democratic attempts to cut off war funding are better understood not as a "realistic blueprint" for ending the war but rather as a "two-by-four" to catch the attention of a president who usually negotiates only when he's left with no other choice and who sometimes resists even then. LINK

Brownstein concludes his column thusly: "For now, Bush probably can win the legislative skirmishes over Iraq. But a shrewder president would seek to preempt them by pursuing a new consensus on a war that is tearing apart two countries."

Peter Pace calls homosexuality "immoral":

Gen. Pace issued a statement yesterday clarifying his comments to the Chicago Tribune about homosexuality and "don't ask, don't tell." LINK

New York Times on same: LINK

The Washington Post's Ann Scott Tyson reports that there has been a sharp drop in gays being discharged from the military due to the needs of war. LINK

Bush Administration agenda:

The Washington Post's Peter Baker and Michael Abramowitz, in a piece Dan Bartlett could have written in his sleep, report that the White House is finding trouble harder to shrug off. LINK

Heidi Przybyla of Bloomberg News writes about a new Bloomberg poll that shows Americans' opinion of President Bush is directly related to how much income a person makes. Przybyla quotes Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution as saying, "[public opinion] is always very directly related to how well you're doing and how well you think you're going to do.'' LINK

Democratic agenda:

The Politico's Josephine Hearn, dabbling in Ring 2, reports on House Democrats' struggle to form a strategy for a domestic policy agenda in the wake of their discord over Iraq. LINK

2008: Republicans: Giuliani:

The New York Times' Richard Perez-Pena writes up the very public rift between Rudy Giuliani and the International Association of Firefighters. LINK

Mayor Giuliani's Yankees-themed fundraiser tonight at the Sheraton New York is expected raise $2 million, according to the New York Post's Maggie Haberman's sources. LINK

Lauren Whittington of Roll Call reports that the Club for Growth, looking to be a key player in the 2008 race, is eyeing Mayor Giuliani.

Giuliani's law firm, Bracewell & Giuliani LLP have lobbied for Citgo Petroleum since 2005 and it should be Noted that a unit of this oil company is controlled by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Bloomberg's Henry Goldman and Jonathan Salant have the full story. LINK

With Republicans "in grave danger of losing the White House in 2008," they need to nominate a "map changer" and Rudy Giuliani may be their guy, writes Steve Kornacki of The New York Observer. LINK

Peter Hecht of the Sacramento Bee reports on former California gubernatorial aspirant Bill Simon's quest to sell Mayor Giuliani to the right. LINK

2008: Republicans: Romney:

Boston Herald columnist Virginia Buckingham writes of former Gov. Romney's evolving outlook on immigration, Noting to "add immigration to the long list of hesitations conservatives ought to have about Mitt Romney." LINK

2008: Republicans: McCain:

Dan Nowicki of the Arizona Republic reports on Sen. McCain's "fundraising frenzy" on the West Coast. LINK

Sen. McCain said of his campaign's financial status at a Beverly Hills fundraiser that he is "very happy where we are." Ted Johnson of Variety reports. LINK

2008: Republicans: Gingrich:

"Specter of Gingrich looms in GOP race," reads the headline above the Washington Times' Ralph Z. Hallow's impressive, important, and accurate story. LINK

Gingrich tells the Washington Times about his Sept. 27 and 29 workshops and his planned Sept. 30 assessment of the Republican situation.

"If there is clearly a vacuum of solution-oriented leadership, then we would spend October exploring and do something in November," Gingrich told the Washington Times, apparently aware of filing deadlines.

2008: Republicans: Fred Thompson:

David Sanders of the Arkansas News Bureau headlines his piece "Second Coming of Reagan" in writing about former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN).LINK

2008: Republicans: Hunter:

Rep. Ducan Hunter pens and op-ed for USA Today supported the continued enforcement of "don't ask, don't tell." LINK

2008: AIPAC:

As the titanic, mostly behind-the-scenes Clinton vs. Obama struggle plays out every day, it is nice to sometimes get a peak at what is going on.

If you are a true political insider, or just want to play one on TV, read closely every crevice of Patrick Healy's New York Times look at the differing rhetoric between Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama when it comes to the critical issues in courting the Jewish vote. LINK

Beyond reading between the lines, make sure you get all the way down to the kicker for some excellent color on the AIPAC atmospherics.

The Washington Times' Christina Bellantoni reports that Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton held "dueling receptions" at AIPAC Monday night even though neither formally addressed one of the most influential lobbying groups in the nation. LINK

Bellantoni Notes that "some at AIPAC this week grumbled about comments the Illinois senator made about Palestinians recently in Iowa."

"'Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people,' Mr. Obama said, according to the Des Moines Register. 'If we could get some movement among Palestinian leadership, what I'd like to see is a loosening up of some of the restrictions on providing aid directly to the Palestinian people.'"

"In the same appearance, Mr. Obama insisted that Israel must remain an ally and said the U.S. has a 'huge strategic stake in bringing about a peaceful resolution to the conflict,' between the two nations, according to the Register."

"Though Mrs. Clinton won Monday's popularity contest, the Democrats don't have the market on this voting bloc."

Giuliani "tops a list compiled by an Israeli newspaper, ranking above all the other 2008 candidates for his stance on Jewish issues, and the Republican is a favorite candidate among Jewish voters."

Dean's Democrats:

DNC chairman Howard Dean travels to Chicago on Wednesday "for a series of fundraising events--from low dollar grassroots/young professionals to private dinner with bigger party booster," blogs Lynn Sweet of The Chicago Suntimes.LINK

2008: Democrats:

Sen. Clinton will likely encounter stiff competition from Sens. Obama and Edwards as she tries to win over influential gay Democrats, writes Jason Horowitz of The New York Observer. LINK

Lizzy Ratner of the New York Observer looks at the New York money chase in the presidential race and names some key bundlers for 08ers Clinton, Edwards, Obama, Dodd, Biden, and Richardson. LINK

2008: Democrats: Obama:

The Hill's Sam Youngman and Aaron Blake offer a story this morning on what could be potential ammunition for Obama's rivals on Obama's anti-crime record during his tenure as an Illinois state Senator. LINK

(Note that The Hill's review of Sen. Obama's Illinois legislative record on crime issues comes during the same week that Sen. Clinton has been highlighting the recent uptick in violent crime statistics and calling for additional funding for more police and community block grants.)

The Union-Leader's John DiStaso writes up his interview with Sen. Obama who insists the move by several states to a Feb. 5 primary does not affect New Hampshire's influence. LINK

Probably quite pleased that a major presidential candidate has roots in Hawaii, dozens of news organizations are dispatching reporters to the island to do some sniffing around on Sen. Obama's formative years. The Politico's Hans Nichols has the story. LINK

Ed Tibbetts of the Quad-City Times credits Sen. Obama's campaign with sprinkling nine small meetings into his two-day swing down the Mississippi River, "chatting with teachers, labor and everyday party activists." LINK

The Washington Times' Brain DeBose uses misgivings on the part of the Rev. Al Shaprton as the basis for a story looking at Obama's lack of universal support among blacks and the apparent generational differences that exist among blacks with regards to their 2008 support. LINK

The New York Post's Carl Campanile and Ian Bishop have the scope on Sen. Obama trying to call Reverend Al Sharpton, according to Sharpton.LINK

Slate's Henry Blodget examines Obama's net worth after book deals, stock mishaps, and yes, parking tickets. LINK

2008: Democrats: Clinton:

The Los Angeles Times' Jordan Rau looks at the many ways in which California's February primary plan gives state leaders new clout. LINK

The story has Peter Ragone, campaign spokesman to San Francisco Mayor Newsom, hinting that Newsom's history with the Clintons is significant to the mayor, who Ragone said has never met Obama.

"'Sen. Clinton has been very helpful and very supportive of the mayor over the years,' Ragone said."

2008: Democrats: Edwards:

USA Today's Judy Keen takes a long look at whether or not former Sen. Edwards' "us vs. them" populist strategy can work. LINK

In his memoir to be published in June, Bob Shrum writes that he regrets advising Sen. Edwards to vote for the Iraq war authorizations, reports the AP's Nedra Pickler. LINK

Edwards for his part says he hasn't read the book and has no idea what Shrum's talking about.

2008: Democrats: Biden:

Sen. Biden tells the New Hampshire Union-Leader's DiStaso that he is "not frustrated" by his low poll numbers. LINK

2008: independents: Bloomberg:

According to the latest Quinnipiac University poll out this morning, 46 percent of New York City voters think Michael Bloomberg is a better mayor than Rudy Giuliani compared to 16 percent who think Bloomberg is a worse mayor. Thirty-four percent said they were about the same.

And when New Yorkers were asked which mayor would make a better president, 46 percent said Bloomberg compared to the 31 percent who said Giuliani.

Those poll numbers and Bloomberg's overall 73 percent approval rating will make for an excellent conversational talking point for those of you attending Giuliani's Manhattan fundraiser this evening.

Former Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin tells the New York Sun that Michael Bloomberg sounded somewhat like a presidential candidate at a financial summit in Washington, DC yesterday. Russell Berman has the story. LINK


Iowa State Sen. Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, "expects to be indicted soon on a federal charge that involves the alleged extortion of a former business partner who purportedly balked at paying McCoy for consulting work," reports the Des Moines Register's Jeff Eckhoff. LINK

2008: Senate:

Roll Call's Erin P. Billings reports on the fundraising push of Senate Republicans, readying themselves for the 2008 cycle.

2008: House:

The Boston Globe's Lisa Wangsness reports that Niki Tsongas, widow of Sen. Paul Tsongas, is the front runner to replace Rep. Marty Meehan.LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

"Senate Democrats unveiled a spending blueprint yesterday that envisions a massive expansion of the nation's health-insurance program for children, as well as billions of additional dollars for other domestic priorities such as public education, veterans' health care and local police," writes Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post. LINK

New York Times on the same: LINK

"Senate Democrats are proposing a five-year fiscal plan that seeks to match President Bush's pledge to balance the budget by 2012, but also force a major debate on tax overhaul after the 2008 elections," reports the Wall Street Journal's David Rogers.

Political potpourri:

"Bill to Give D.C. Full House Vote Advances," reports the Washington Post's Mary Beth Sheridan: LINK