The Note: "What I Want to Know Is . . . "

USA Today's Mimi Hall Notes that "Chertoff's nomination comes at a time when the public is less worried about terrorism than at any time since Sept. 11. In a new USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll, 39% said terrorists are likely to strike the USA in the next few weeks, the lowest percentage since 9/11." LINK

The New York Observer's Lizzy Ratner has a nice look at the history of Sen. Clinton's concerns with Mr. Chertoff. LINK

The Washington Post: LINK

The Boston Globe: LINK

The Washington Post's Mark Leibovich looks at the confirmation successes of second choices. LINK

Social Security:

One news cycle past and there are three things we can say about the current debate on the President's "plan" to remake Social Security:

A. The commentariat on the left is working overdrive on the "there is no crisis" theme.

B. It is increasingly easy to find Republicans on background (and deeper) who express skepticism about the game and the candle.

C. And/but no one should misunderestimate the vast sales job that is about to take place.

The Wall Street Journal's John Harwood Notes the "ideological debate" underlying arguments over the fate of Social Security.

"It is an ideological debate about whether Social Security remains a social insurance safety net, which redistributes a modest amount of income from rich to poor, or moves toward greater individual opportunity, risk and reward. Bubbling with enthusiasm, Mr. Bush casts his effort to transform the Mideast as the 'philosophical argument of the age.' In U.S. domestic politics, the argument of the age concerns Social Security."

The New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller Notes the stepped up Social Security campaign by the Administration and other interested parties:

"[Yesterday's] event was part of an intensified White House campaign to promote Mr. Bush's Social Security proposals this month. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow has been selling the plan on Wall Street, and Vice President Dick Cheney and Joshua B. Bolten, the White House budget director, will give speeches on Social Security this week. N. Gregory Mankiw, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, will give a speech next Tuesday." LINK

The Washington Post's Michael Fletcher wraps President Bush's hard sell yesterday on his Social Security plan, and the critics he's facing over it -- including Democrats who insist his warning that the system will go bust is sky-is-falling political rhetoric, and conservatives who oppose price indexing and cutting benefits and want to stick just to personal accounts. LINK

USA Today's Richard Benedetto and Judy Keen look at the PR war between the President and his critics over what really needs to be done to shore up Social Security. LINK

Harold Meyerson says that the Bush Administration is not imaginable without the existence of Fox News Channel and talk radio. (And, yes, that belongs in this section!!!) LINK

Bush agenda:

The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman previews what's expected to be a tough budget from President Bush that aims to rein in the federal deficit, looking to freeze spending in some areas, cut or kill some federal programs, move more Medicare and housing costs to state and local governments, and stave off growth in federal entitlement programs. LINK

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