The Note: Everywhere You Want to Be

The Washington Post's David Ignatius surmises that the reason President Bush's poll numbers have slumped and public image has suffered isn't because of the big ideological fights -- Terri Schiavo and Social Security -- that he's engaged in. It's because, Ignatius argues, leadership involves getting in the trenches and being a responsible steward with Congress, and his desire for the grand-slam homeruns has kept him from stepping up to the plate. LINK

Previewing Monday's Crawford confab with Ariel Sharon, two reporters for the Wall Street Journal write that "The U.S. domestic politics of Mr. Bush's settlement stance will only get stickier once all sides move toward a new round of peace talks, an event not likely until late this year at the earliest. Most of the U.S. Jewish community opposes the settlements, but the minority is very vocal and has increased its clout within the White House, in part through allying with a number of conservative Christian groups."

Stick before the carrot: A New York Times editorial bashes the heck out of John Bolton LINK

And then another urges Laura Bush to speak out in favor of more federal money for libraries. LINK

Sen. Lincoln Chafee inches closer to voting in Bolton's favor, it seems. LINK

USA Today's Barbara Slavin writes that Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) are at least two Democrats who say they will oppose Bolton's nomination. Boxer predicts that Bolton will have a hard time getting any Democratic support. LINK

Many states seemed to like Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings' newly expressed NCLB flexibility, but not Connecticut. LINK

"The Bush administration has told states that they cannot steer Medicare beneficiaries to any specific prescription drug plan, even if state officials find that one or two insurance plans would provide the best deals for elderly people with low-incomes," writes Robert Pear in the New York Times. LINK

The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman examines the accounting strategy that will give California $2 billion more in federal Medicaid money than it might normally be able to receive, by which counties, universities, and hospitals send their "contributions" to Sacramento to allow the state to ask for matching funds, and then get the money back. It's a years-long tradition among many states that the federal government has essentially sanctioned, but with this year's budget battle, has caused a rift between the White House and governors. LINK

And the Times' David Chen writes of cuts to federal housing programs, which an official defends quite candidly as efficiency-based. LINK

The Washington Post's Carol Leonnig reports that Justice Department officials made the case to a federal appeals court yesterday that President Bush should be allowed to prosecute and sentence al Qaeda terrorists for war crimes outside the U.S. court system, disagreeing with a district judge's earlier ruling that military commissions designed for such proceedings were unfair to the accused. LINK

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's memo last week giving one of his aides the authority to improve Pentagon intelligence is now being interpreted as giving the Undersecretary for Defense Intelligence rein to interfere with the work of the newly designated Director of National Intelligence, the Washington Post's Walter Pincus reports. LINK

The Schiavo memo:

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