The Note: Approximately 3/5th of the Gang's All Here

The Los Angeles Times' Robin Abcarian looks at Democrats' shift from depression to pugnaciousness as they focus on hitting the President's agenda -- without (apparently) realizing that THEY STILL DON'T HAVE A MESSAGE. LINK

David Kirkpatrick in the New York Times writes of efforts by Democrats to accommodate divergent views on abortion, and while healthily quoting skeptics, manages to find a sincere Sam Brownback:

"'Just the language that allows for the Democrats to open up and even encourage people to run for office as a pro-life candidate is an enormously positive development for me,' Mr. Brownback said, adding that NARAL's decision not to oppose his fetal-pain bill made him much more optimistic about its passage." LINK

And Kirkpatrick includes what appears to be a veiled, well, something, aimed at the party by one of its top allies:

"Karen Pearl, interim president of Planned Parenthood, said some of her allies were saying that 'to the degree that the Democrats move away from choice, that could be the real birth of a third-party movement.'"

"But Ms. Pearl added, 'When the day is done, I don't believe they will backslide,' in part because of the importance of abortion rights advocates to the party's base of activists and contributors."

Look out consultants: Reid and Pelosi are looking to cut your meal tickets and bring in advisers from outside the Beltway, The Hill's Alexander Bolton reports. LINK

Gov. George Pataki defended Democrats yesterday from his own state party chairman, which pretty much tells you all you need to know about the state of Republican politics in New York. LINK

America Coming Together's new (well, reconfigured) leadership team: Gina Glantz will be chairman of the board, Harold Ickes will be President, and Steve Rosenthal remains CEO.

Gov./Chairman Howard Dean:

In an e-mail to the DNC's mailing list yesterday, DNC Chairman Howard Dean outlined his five priorities for the party, including his vow to "Show Up" -- compete everywhere; to Strengthen State Parties (more money in exchange for more accountability); Focus on Core Values (which means to use George Lakoff and try to reframe Democratic values and proclaim them loudly); Technology (Demzilla, consumer marketing, the Net), and Training (tomorrow's leaders, that is).

In the e-mail, Dean's language suggests he has taken sides in a very important and longstanding internal debate -- whether the Democrats have a message problem or a mechanics problem.

Dean says " . . . there is no crisis of ideology in the Democratic Party, only a crisis of confidence. Bill Clinton once described the Democratic Party's problems in the era of George W. Bush, saying that in uncertain times people would rather have a leader who is strong and wrong than weak and right."

We have never been quite sure what that means exactly, although it gives credence to those who think that the Democrats biggest problem is that they are too afraid to assert their core values, whatever they may be.

Suffice to say, even from many Dean supporters and certainly from his opponents, there are those who believe that the Democrats need to do more than refine talking points; they face Americans who are skeptical of their national security judgment; their commitment to a few precise political tenets (in that sense, Dean is correct when he diagnosis that folks don't believe Democrats, but that's not necessarily because Democrats don't shout themselves hoarse); their secularism.

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