WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 --
Things we thought about leading with this morning:
1. The domestic political semiotics of the President's European adventure and daily Iran remarks.
2. Our handicapping of the looming Swift-Boat-style attack on the AARP over gay marriage and "related" "issues."
3. The Social Security recess Daily Double -- Rick Santorum's hard-slogging town meetings and Robert Samuelson's devastating attack on the political press for covering Big Casino more like a game than as life-and-death math.
4. The Boston Globe's attempt to cover Mitt Romney's meta-presidential campaign like it is two weeks out from the New Hampshire primary.
But there really is only one lead in American political journalism, and lucky for us it comes verbatim right out of an e-mail from the Republican National Committee.
Now, The Note gets criticized for a lot of things -- including an overuse of exclamation points.
So, we should be clear: we aren't criticizing Mindy and Katie, or even the ethos that underlines their latest work, which we let speak for itself, in its entirety:
"Hi everyone, it's Mindy and Katie again. Thank you all for making the first segment of Off the Record such a hit! Your interest certainly proved that Senator John Thune of South Dakota is a rising star in the GOP."
"This week, we're proud to bring you our second installment of Off the Record with a man who will be spearheading GOP efforts in the coming cycle, new Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman. Don't miss this one-on-one with Chairman Mehlman as he reveals the RNC's ambitious agenda for the next few years and shares some interesting personal history."
"To watch Off the Record with Chairman Mehlman now, visit gop.com!"
"For those who missed Off the Record with Senator Thune, don't worry, it's not too late. You can still find it on gop.com in latest RNC video."
"Thanks again for your support and for the positive feedback. Keep it coming. Please continue to email eCampaign@gop.com with comments and suggestions for future segments."
We have great expertise in coming up with questions for the OTR guests, especially since they're "off the record."
But/and (and here's a Note reader quiz) which of the following are real questions and answers and which were written by bored and smitten Googling monkeys?
"Mindy: Great. Your job before chairman of the RNC was as chairman of the Bush-Cheney '04 reelection campaign. How does someone manage such a huge organization and a broad effort?"
"Mindy: One of the big stories to come out of the 2004 election was how the GOP built such an incredible grassroots network. How will the RNC continue to build on that success?"
"Mindy: And music. If we opened your CD player right now, what CD would we find?"
"Mehlman: You would find a lot of U2, a lot of Led Zeppelin, a lot of classic rock. You'd also find, I also like the Neville Brothers, which is in that genre, but a little different. I love B.B. King; I love Ray Charles. So kind of classic rock, but also some kind of more bluesy stuff I like as well."
(It looks like Ken has a BIG CD player!!)
A million miles from all this, in Germany today, the President has already met with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. At 9:35 am ET, President and Mrs. Bush arrive at the Guttenberg Museum.