The Note: Mistaking Obstructionism for Progress

WASHINGTON, April 11

NEWS SUMMARY

As masters of the obvious, let us say: Americans care about rising gas prices.

And/but in a Washington story as old as time itself -- or, at least, as old as the songs on the President's iPod -- the Chattering Class can get distracted.

People inside Washington (especially, dare we say it, on Capitol Hill) try really, really hard to stay in sync with the country and not get caught with a bad case of inside-the-Beltway-itis.

Washington reporters who work for New York-based news organizations try to avoid the same thing.

It doesn't always work out, however.

There are some issues on which we think DC perceptions might be a bit out of whack with the Fruited Plain at this point.

Here are things the Gang of 500 cares about that don't matter to Americans as much as those gas prices:

1. The methods Jack Abramoff is using to send (unfriendly) signals to Tom DeLay.

2. From whom John Bolton is separated at birth.

3. The Bush Administration's failure to address the Alternative Minimum Tax. (But Note well -- we know our past efforts to get y'all to read about this important topic have failed, but if you read only one story this year about this real-life problem for real Americans, read yesterday's New York Times masterpiece of clarity by Edmund Andrews. LINK)

4. What the Boston Globe thinks of the status of the Democrats' obstruct-obstruct-obstruct strategy.

5. That C-SPAN airs major political speeches -- such as Hillary Clinton's Minnesota head-turner -- opposite "Desperate Housewives."

6. That Howard Dean continues to refuse to debate Ken Mehlman.

7. What Bob Novak thinks of the New York Times and Tom DeLay.

8. What Chuck Schumer says on Sundays (OK: some Americans care about that . . . )

9. Why Sen. Lugar is having such elaborate and investigative Bolton hearings.

But it is gas prices that will probably dominate the news cycle and the President's day (Dan and Nicolle) as POTUS hosts Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on the ranch in Crawford, TX. Their opening photo op is at 10:50 am ET, and they hold a media availability at 12:55 pm ET. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is also in Crawford.

Will the President hit the gas soundbite with feel-your-pain clarity?

Only time, and live cable news coverage, will tell.

On Tuesday, President Bush talks about the war on terror in Killeen, TX, before having lunch with the troops.

On Wednesday, the President has a photo op with the President's Cup team captains in the morning, and another in the afternoon with the New England Patriots. More Bush-Kerry sports bonding?

On Thursday, President Bush delivers remarks to the American Society of Newspaper Editors Convention in Washington, DC. The Washington Nationals play their first home game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington, DC, and the President will throw out the first pitch.

On Friday morning, Bush meets with the President of Rwanda in the Oval Office before heading to Kirtland, OH to talk about Social Security.

Vice President Cheney has no public events scheduled today.

Leader DeLay is scarce today, but Rep. Chris Shays speaks midday at Yale (Sen. Lieberman's there too, but we think we can see how the day might go), and DeLay has interesting Washington events all week.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee opens its hearing on the nomination of John Bolton to be the U.S. representative to the United Nations at 9:30 am ET.

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