The Note: Canceling the ‘Grand Bargain’


On the eve of an AFL-CIO forum tomorrow in Detroit, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's chief strategist, Mark Penn, announced that he will recuse himself from his consulting firm's work on behalf of the management side in labor disputes, Marc Ambinder reports in his Atlantic blog. That's nice, but hasn't Penn always claimed never to have been involved those activities in the first place?

Michael Moore is set to strike again, and this time it's Clinton, D-N.Y., he's got in his sites. "His conclusion is that she sold out," Politico's Ben Smith reports after watching Moore's forthcoming film, "Sicko." Smith says Moore faults Clinton for staying silent on the issue of universal healthcare after her plan died early in her husband's presidency. "For her silence, Hillary was rewarded. And she has been the second-largest recipient in the Senate of healthcare industry contributions," Moore says in the film, per Smith.

Sen. Barack Obama's fund-raising tally is taking another (small) hit because of his ties to Tony Rezko, the indicted Chicago dealmaker. Obama, D-Ill., is donating another $16,500 donated by Rezko associates, bringing to more than $33,000 the total amount he's had to shed because of Rezko ties, Ray Gibson and David Jackson report in the Chicago Tribune.

Clinton is bouncing back in Hollywood, after early indications that Obama would be the choice of the rich and beautiful Left Coasters. "It's starting to look like Hollywood's infatuation with Sen. Barack Obama was just a flirtation before it settles down with its longtime girlfriend," Tina Daunt writes in the Los Angeles Times.

The New York Times' Robin Toner looks at the split between Democrats and Republicans on the military's "don't ask, don't tell policy," with all the Democrats supporting a repeal and all of the Republicans wanted to keep it intact. "It shows the Democrats returning to yet another issue that confounded them in the past -- like universal health care -- with the conviction that the public is more ready for change this time," Toner writes.

Former senator John Edwards, D-N.C., is escalating his long-distance feud with Giuliani, in one of those classic political shouting matches that both sides like. After a speech in New York yesterday, Edwards said of Giuliani, "He'll never be elected president of the United States," citing the former mayor's support for the president's foreign policy, ABC's David Muir and Raelyn Johnson report. Rudy's camp reminded Edwards that he knows plenty about losing a presidential campaign: "John Edwards' track record of predicting election outcomes speaks for itself."

Romney is putting some distance between himself and the president when it comes to Iraq, telling Associated Press reporters and editors that he does not favor a "Korea-type setting with 25-50,000 troops on a near-permanent basis remaining in bases in Iraq." He also had this to say about his flip-flopping reputation: "In the style of Mark Twain, I would suggest rumors of my changes in position have been greatly exaggerated."

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman takes Romney -- and the media -- to task over Romney's debate suggestion that more weapons inspections would have revealed that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, when in fact weapons inspectors were ordered out of the country by Bush after they found nothing. "Mr. Romney's remark should have been the central story of the debate. But it wasn't," Krugman writes.

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