The Note: Weekend Update

"The fracas over congressional involvement has taken many GOP lawmakers by surprise. Most knew little about the case and were acting at the direction of their leaders, who armed them with the simple argument that they just wanted to give Schiavo a final chance, and that they wanted to err on the side of life. But because of the rush to act and the insistent approach of the leadership, Republicans had no debate about whether their vote could be seen as federal intrusion in a family matter, or as a violation of the separation of powers between the judicial and legislative branches. Both issues are concerns of many voters responding to polls, and of some legislators themselves."

On Sunday, the Washington Post's Peter Baker looked at the miles logged by President Bush last week as he flew to Washington from his Crawford ranch and back again in an effort to appeal to the varying factions within his party -- or, as Baker put it, "a major Republican rupture." Loads of interesting comments from a cast of Republican strategist all-stars about whether or not the President's falling poll numbers signify trouble, of he's just done a good job at convincing people that government should have a limited role in the lives of citizens. LINK

Newsweek's Eleanor Clift writes that both sides bungled their political cases. LINK

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter writes that politicians confused law with theology and lost sight of what the "culture of life" really means. "Knowing that they cannot deliver on a gay-rights amendment or abortion ban, Karl Rove & Co. settled on bonding to the base with the Schiavo case," he writes. LINK

Social Security:

Sen. Grassley gets mixed messages from the informed, if not mostly gray, citizens of the Hawkeye State, forcing the Finance chair concluding this AP round-up with a killer quote: "I think it's very difficult for me to say today that we'll present a bill to the President." LINK

Yet, just a few clicks later, the Washington Times' Donald Lambro finds "Republican strategists (who) say they have won the debate about Social Security's long-term solvency"; see also, Mr. Grassley, re: a radically different perspective. LINK

Late Friday, the AP's Mike Glover published an interview with a pessimistic Grassley about Social Security, accompanying the Senator to a town hall meeting in Iowa. LINK

The Des Moines Register's Jane Norman on Sunday wrote of Iowa's role in the blitz to sell Social Security, from a Bush visit Wednesday to PFA field activities to a new AARP ad. LINK

Bloomberg's Jeff Bliss looks at the White House's thread-the-needle attempts at compromise, with Kent Conrad (D) open to personal accounts (with lots of caveats) and Arizona Rep. John Shadegg (R) open to tax increases (with lots of caveats), and/but still a long way to go to bridge that (and many other) gaps.

And while President Bush is wagering with his private Social Security accounts plan that stocks will continue to yield strong returns even if the economy slows down (based on projections of 2-percent economic growth from the Social Security Administration), Bloomberg's Alison Fitzgerald and Michael Forsythe found that some economists and economic strategists are calling his outlook overly optimistic.

Leader DeLay:

The Wall Street Journal's editorial board assesses the ethics questions asked of Majority Leader DeLay and concludes thusly:

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