The Note: Weekend Update

"Taken separately, and on present evidence, none of the latest charges directly touch Mr. DeLay; at worst, they paint a picture of a man who makes enemies by playing political hardball and loses admirers by resorting to politics-as-usual."

"The problem, rather, is that Mr. DeLay, who rode to power in 1994 on a wave of revulsion at the everyday ways of big government, has become the living exemplar of some of its worst habits. Mr. DeLay's ties to Mr. Abramoff might be innocent, in a strictly legal sense, but it strains credulity to believe that Mr. DeLay found nothing strange with being included in Mr. Abramoff's lavish junkets."

"Nor does it seem very plausible that Mr. DeLay never considered the possibility that the mega-lucrative careers his former staffers Michael Scanlon and Mr. Buckham achieved after leaving his office had something to do with their perceived proximity to him. These people became rich as influence-peddlers in a government in which legislators like Mr. DeLay could make or break fortunes by tinkering with obscure rules and dispensing scads of money to this or that constituency. Rather than buck this system as he promised to do while in the minority, Mr. DeLay has become its undisputed and unapologetic master as Majority Leader."

"Whether Mr. DeLay violated the small print of House Ethics or campaign-finance rules is thus largely beside the point. His real fault lies in betraying the broader set of principles that brought him into office, and which, if he continues as before, sooner or later will sweep him out."

On Sunday, the New York Times' Adam Nagourney and Carl Hulse teased the political implications from Rep. DeLay's sudden drop from the Schiavo spotlight. LINK

Bush agenda:

Elisabeth Bumiller on a buoyant-mooded, 8-lbs-lighter, jokey, flirty President Bush, who holds his head high at Social Security meetings. LINK

Yes, yes: Mark McKinnon, Roland Betts, and Clay Johnson all get to testify, but it is the Margaret Spellings' quote that will catch your eye.

We were just thinking that we hadn't read an "All Roads Lead to Rove" profile in the New York Times lately.

But Dick Stevenson manages to write a solid one with some new nuggets, including his personal advocacy to Jack Kemp, his dual (triple?) (quadruple) hats of chief policy coordinator and political strategist, his ability to keep up with Charles Blahous in arcane Social Security discussions, and his duty roster: "allocating time on Mr. Bush's schedule for policy discussions, helping set the president's travel schedule and keeping track of daily policy developments for Mr. Bush and Mr. Card, Mr. Rove participates in a separate set of meetings devoted to Social Security. Twice a week he sits down to plot legislative strategy, and roughly as often participates in high-level meetings about the substantive issues in play." LINK

Stevenson also details the White House coordination effort on Social Security.

New York Magazine's John Heilemann takes his own look at the Rove agenda. LINK

More Roving: the White House Deputy Chief of Staff is scheduled to speak at Waukesha County's Lincoln Day Dinner in Wisconsin on April 9.

The Washington Post's Walter Pincus looks at a report issued last week by the Congressional Research Service that concludes the creation of the National Counterterrorism Center and the new Director of National Intelligence have put the nation's counterterrorism policies in conflict. LINK

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