43 Days Until Inauguration Day
Some big pending political questions are completely overshadowed in our world on this typically slow December news day by a slap as loud as a car crash.
First, the pending questions:
Who will get the new top Intel job?
How bright is Secretary Snow's future?
How long will Chief Justice Rehnquist stay on the Court?
What "surprises" will there be in the SOTU?
Will a front runner emerge from the DNC state chair machinations in Orlando?
Whom will Spitzer and Clinton draw as '06 opponents?
What will Walter Shapiro do for an encore?
So/but with all that (merely) pending, the giggling of the Googling monkeys when we came in this morning has led us to one priceless item in a New York Times story about the winners and losers deriving from the intelligence bill's House passage.
Elevating the stature of Sen. Susan Collins, the story by Sheryl Gay Stolberg also highlights the role of Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman and says this:
"Mr. Lieberman, who has kept a fairly low profile since his unsuccessful run for vice president in 2000, has re-emerged in the spotlight -- to his benefit, Democrats and Republicans said." (Italics added by bemused Googling monkeys.) LINK
"Fairly low profile since . . . 2000"???
Has Ms. Stolberg never heard of the Joemobile, Joementum, or the Joevember to Remember!!???
These are, simply put, fighting words, which will be Noted by Jonathan Sallet, Craig Smith, the wait staff at The Tombs in Georgetown, and many, many others.
Not to mention: the Lieberman kids (particularly the feisty Rebecca) and the Senator himself.
Stand back and watch the fallout.
Meanwhile, if you read only one newspaper today, let it be the Wall Street Journal (published by Dow Jones), which has four quasi-must-reads:
1. The editorial board wants the White House to do some good hard thinking about a replacement for John Snow warning "if there's a single Cabinet post that could ruin President Bush's second term" our choice would be Treasury. Their favored choice seems to be Phil Gramm. LINK
2. Three smart guys -- including John Cogan and Glenn Hubbard -- propose cluttering up the (soon-to-be-simplified??) tax code with another deduction for health care expenses. LINK
3. Gerald Seib suggests a motto for the second term of the Bush presidency in the Wall Street Journal, "Livin' Large with George W. Bush." Seib writes, "He is a gambler, and plays for high stakes. For better or for worse, don't look for that to change, because his history suggests the characteristic is embedded in his personality." LINK
4. Al From and Bruce Reed propose "a decade-long Heartland Project" to put three quarters of the nation back in play. [Yes, this is another one of those Red State/Blue State scenarios.] With all due respect, it actually uses the phrase "Here's how."
A covey of op-ed pieces in the New York Times by various Democrats also make the case for the future of the party, too, with Howard Wolfson's call for a Democratic democratic plebiscite for chair the most innovative. LINK
Others are by Gov. Gary Locke LINK
Donna Brazile LINK
Howard Dean gives a noontime speech at George Washington University in Washington about the future of his party, as his possible bid for DNC chair still looms. LINK
There are no public schedule for President Bush today, though there is a morning White House gaggle and afternoon briefing. The Senate is expected to debate and vote on the intelligence reform bill., with a vote scheduled between 2:30 pm-5:30 pm ET.
The House resoundingly approved the intelligence-overhaul bill sought by President Bush and the independent Sept. 11 commission on Tuesday [with a vote of 336 to 75!!] and today it is expected to be approved handily by the Senate with big plans for a Bush-Collins-Lieberman photo op by the end of the week.
The Washington Post fronts the Notion that Syria is harboring Iraqi insurgents LINK
But there is still plenty to talk about on Intel reform.
The New York Times' Philip Shenon's story primes the thinking pump about who will get the job of director of national intelligence with a long list of possibly contenders.
"Lawmakers have informally circulated the names of several potential candidates, including a pair of retired members of the Senate with extensive involvement in intelligence and national security issues: Sam Nunn, a Georgia Democrat who was chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Warren B. Rudman, a New Hampshire Republican who served on the Senate Intelligence Committee and was a member of White House Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board after leaving Congress."
"At least three members of the Sept. 11 commission are also often cited on Capitol Hill as possible candidates: Mr. Kean, who recently announced that he was stepping down as president of Drew University in New Jersey and has not disclosed plans; Mr. Hamilton, a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and now director of the Wilson Center in Washington; and John F. Lehman, Navy secretary in the Reagan administration."
"Another possibility is the elevation of the current director of central intelligence, Porter J. Goss, to the job of national intelligence director, although Mr. Goss could expect a bruising confirmation fight given the reports of turmoil at the agency since his arrival there this year, with the departure of several senior career intelligence officers. At least one influential Republican senator, Susan Collins of Maine, the principal Republican architect of the intelligence bill, has said that she would not support Mr. Goss for the new job. LINK
The Wall Street Journal's David Cloud postulates on the bills weaknesses, "But does it go far enough?" he queries, Noting, "some major changes proposed by the independent 9/11 Commission have been left out or watered down." LINK
Doug Jehl takes a break from writing up leaked memos to raise some questions of his own in the New York Times. LINK
USA Today's Andrea Stone calls the House passage of the intelligence bill a "decisive victory" for the President. LINK
The Washington Times also gives Bush beaucoup de credit for the bill's passage. LINK
The Washington Post's Pincus and Priest write that the legislation "represents a historic reordering of the $40 billion intelligence community." LINK
The Hill reports Republican leaders have vowed immigration reform is next on their list. LINK
The Washington Post's Jim VandeHei recaps the President's Camp Pendleton visit yesterday. LINK
The New York Times' David Sanger called it an "emotional" visit where President Bush spoke "cautiously about the ability of Iraqi forces to defend themselves." Sporting a specially tailored Marine tanker jacket, an all-weather jacket worn by enlisted men bearing custom touches like his name and designation as commander in chief embroidered across the front, President Bush thanked soldiers and families for their sacrifice during the holidays. "But administration officials also say they have been increasingly aware of the complaints surrounding long deployments, and of the emotional and economic toll of action in Iraq that has now gone on for two years, including the buildup of forces in the Middle East in the months before the invasion in March 2003." LINK
The Washington Post looks at Bernie Kerik's time in Saudi Arabia, raising questions about judgment and facts with an awfully large number of people on the record. A must-read piece for those who think Kerik's confirmation might not be a, err, slam dunk. LINK
Walter Shapiro writes his final Hype & Glory column in USA Today. LINK
"After more than 800 columns over the past nine years, this is closing time as I ask the bartender for "one for my baby and one more for the road." This newspaper, in a decision that was not wildly cheered by all concerned, has decided to end this column and my affiliation with USA TODAY."
The Des Moines Register reports on Gov. Vilsack's tax reform ideas for Iowa. LINK
The Washington Post's William Booth reports that Gov. Schwarzenegger got a standing ovation from nearly 10,000 women at his Conference on Women and families in Long Beach yesterday. LINK
Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes in a separate New York Times story, "With the presidential race over and Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist ill with thyroid cancer, the Washington advocacy establishment -- that vast machinery of special interest groups, research institutions and pundits who thrive on the periphery of politics -- is gearing up for the next big fight: the battle over the Supreme Court." LINK
Deputy Interior Secretary J. Steven Griles resigned Tuesday, after a tenure that had put him at odds with thousands of Indians over revenue from land leases, reports the New York Times' John Files. LINK
Richard Lieby reports that Kitty Kelley and Washingtonian magazine are breaking up. LINK
Mary Frances Berry, the chairwoman of the United States Civil Rights Commission, resigned yesterday, a day after President Bush appointed a new head of the advisory agency. Randal C. Archibold Notes "The moves are expected to put a more conservative stamp on the panel, which investigates civil rights complaints and issues reports but has no enforcement power." LINK
The Hill's Alexander Bolton reports Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Minority Leader Harry Reid are "clashing" over how to divvy committee resources. "The Republicans want control over two-thirds of each committee's resources, but Democrats have called that unacceptable. They want a 50-50 split in the 109th Congress or, at worst, a division reflecting the 55-44 GOP advantage." LINK
"This history, he suggested, has left both parties in Washington in a mind-set of blame-casting. 'Okay, so Kyoto was not perfect,' he acknowledged, adding that for Democrats 'it's time to stop worrying about whether the current administration will change its mind' and start looking for other ways to address energy-related problems." A slam dunk on the bestsellers list? LINK