The Note: Totally Machiavellian and Self-Loathing



The Boston Globe says the Bushes are the family Bill Clinton never had.

Bill Clinton says Arthur Finkelstein is "totally Machiavellian" and/or or self-loathing.

Arthur Finkelstein says "I do" and "I will" (about Hillary Clinton).

Hillary Clinton says she won't -- endorse Mike Bloomberg.

Mike Bloomberg says "thank goodness" for his four Democratic opponents, including Freddy Ferrer.

Freddy Ferrer says "Al Sharpton, whatever."

Al Sharpton says he is more innocent than Tom DeLay.

Tom DeLay says that this isn't the USA Today cover story he had in mind when he came to Washington.

Washington says that Tom DeLay's days are numbered, but is Washington looking at the facts and the fairness, the conference and the constituencies?

Far from Washington (Note: our corniest transitional sentence of the week is in progress), President Bush delivers remarks on the war on terror at Fort Hood in Killeen, TX, at 11:20 am ET, then has lunch with the troops at 12:30 pm ET before heading back to Washington, DC in the afternoon.

First Lady Laura Bush reads "The Enormous Egg" to children at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, DC at 1:30 pm ET in celebration of National Library Week. And the adorable Miss Beazley, who got her name from said book, will join! Photo op city.

Former President Bill Clinton, live with Dr. Paul Farmer on "Today" today, discussed his foundation's work on behalf of children with HIV/AIDS in Rwanda. The Clinton Foundation's HIV/AIDS Initiative is pledging $10 million to get medicine to 10,000 children in at least 10 countries by the end of the year. LINK

Asked what he thinks about a possible (Sen. Hillary) Clinton presidential run in 2008, he said she still has a lot of work to do for New York and to think about getting re-elected to the Senate before she can consider anything else.

"That's a bridge she has to cross, and she hasn't told me whether she's going to do it or not, and I don't know if she knows yet," Clinton said. " . . . I want her to do what she wants to do."

We're also glad to hear he's feeling so well.

The House meets for morning business at 12:30 pm ET, and for legislative business at 2:00 pm ET. No votes are expected before 6:30 pm ET.

Senate Republicans and Democrats meet for their respective weekly party caucuses at 12:30 pm ET.

At 10:00 am ET, the Senate Select Intelligence Committee holds a hearing on the nomination of John Negroponte to be Director of National Intelligence.

Gov. Mark Warner (D-VA) hosts his monthly radio show, "Ask the Governor," on WTOP at 10:00 am ET.

At noon ET, Senate Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) and Pete Domenici (R-NM), and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao hold a news conference to unveil the Senate Republican Jobs Agenda.

Also at noon ET, Reps. Christopher Cox and Bennie Thompson hold a media preview for the First Responder bill and the upcoming hearing.

Supreme Court Associate Justices Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy testify about FY2006 appropriations for the Supreme Court before the House Appropriations Committee's subpanel on Transportation, Treasury, HUD, the judiciary, and the District of Columbia at 1:00 pm ET.

At 1:30 pm ET, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff speaks to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council at the National Press Club. Chertoff meets with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (complete with photo op) at 2:30 pm ET.

At 2:45 pm ET, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) holds a press conference with the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and other groups on the filibuster rule.

At 3:00 pm ET, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Reps. Ike Skelton (D-MO) and Lane Evans (D-IL) and retired Gen. Wesley Clark announce the House Democrats' GI Bill of Rights for the 21st Century.

At 11:30 am ET, Rev. Al Sharpton will hold a press conference in front of the New York Post to protest today's story alleging he was taped by the FBI taking cash from fundraisers.

At 1:00 pm ET, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich joins Reps. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Vern Ehlers (R-MI), and George Mason University President Alan Merten, for a press conference to announce introduction of legislation to forgive interest on undergraduate student loans for math, science and engineering majors who agree to work five years in their field upon graduation.

At 9:00 am ET, Republican pollster Whit Ayres and Democratic pollster Mark Mellman held a pen-and pad briefing at the National Press Club to discuss recent polling on overhauling Social Security and other issues.

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) are among those who will attend a luncheon honoring the late Rep. Robert Matsui (D-CA) at 11:30 am ET.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) keynotes the American Society of Newspaper Editors convention at 2:30 pm ET.

At 10:00 am ET, holds a rally to urge the NIH and other federal agencies to make spinal cord injury research a bigger priority. Among those participating: Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Dana Reeve.

At 4:00 pm ET, we'll wish we were at Harvard for the Institute of Politics study group, "Defending the Public Servant- In the Legal Process," where Maggie Williams, former chief of staff, the Clinton Foundation and chief of staff to first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, and former Clinton counsel David Kendall, will speak.

Gene Sperling fleshes out a progressive perspective on Social Security at Georgetown University at 5:30 pm ET.

It's day two of the 2005 spring meetings of the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund.

Set your TiVOs or get home early -- PBS's "Frontline" airs "Karl Rove -- the Architect" tonight at 9:00 pm ET (check your local listings).

The program is a collaboration between Frontline and the Washington Post, looking at "the political history and modus operandi of the man who has been on the inside of every political and policy decision of the Bush administration" and aims to secure a permanent Republican majority. LINK

We like the USA Today TV grid description: "Karl Rove advises President George W. Bush on political issues."

The New York Times' ace reviewer/arbiter of taste Virginia Heffernan doesn't much like the show, however. LINK

Other reviews are also mostly negative, too: LINK

Producer Mike Kirk will take questions Wednesday on, so save 'em up and write 'em down. LINK

USA Today leads the paper touting today's AARP study on prescription drug costs. LINK

The numbers are already being challenged.

Bush agenda:

The Washington Post's Jim VandeHei wraps President Bush's meeting on the ranch with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, where he made it clear that the U.S. opposes Israeli plans to expand West Bank settlements and urged him to stick with the road map toward an independent Palestinian state and Middle East peace. No new ground was broken, VandeHei writes, but the peace process appears to be continuing on track. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Peter Wallsten and Tyler Marshall have the two men clashing and the nature of relations remaining fragile, and do an excellent job of explaining the two leaders' different priorities and pressures on the road map, settlements, and a two-state solution. LINK

Palestinians were pleased with Bush's stance, writes the Chicago Tribune's Mark Silva. LINK

AP writes that Sharon "brushed off a warning" from President Bush about keeping West Bank settlement growth under control. LINK

More from the Boston Globe and the Houston Chronicle. LINK; LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Ron Brownstein curtain-raises a study to be released today in affiliation with the National Jewish Democratic Council, which found that while Jewish voters stayed mostly in the Democratic column in the 2004 elections, those who attend services regularly were more likely to support Mr. Bush. LINK

The U.S. will offer financial aid for the agreement that ended Sudan's civil war, on the condition that the government does something about Darfur, the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler reports. LINK


AP has details of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's visit to Baghdad, where he urged Iraq's new leadership to keep pushing forward on developing their constitutional government and fighting the insurgency. LINK


The Washington Post's Chuck Babington and Dafna Linzer turn in an excellent round-up of the first day of John Bolton's hearings to confirm his nomination to the United Nations, Noting that Bolton spent a good bit of time on the meta-defensive trying to clarify the past statements criticizing the U.N. that some Democrats have cited as proof he is "the wrong person" for the job. In addition, Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), Democrats' one shot at getting a Republican to vote against Bolton, said he's inclined to support Bolton's nomination because his colleagues across the aisle didn't make as strong a case against him as he thought they would. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Sonni Efron makes Bolton sound far more combative, and works in the "midlevel munchkin analyst" comment Bolton allegedly used in complaining about an intelligence specialist who took issue with wording in a speech Bolton was supposed to give stating that Cuba had a biological weapons program and went to the CIA for approval on alternate language. LINK

Reports the New York Times' Steven R. Weisman: if today is a repeat of yesterday for Bolton, "a favorable vote in the full Senate would then appear nearly certain." LINK

USA Today's Barbara Slavin ledes with Bolton's pledge to help build up the U.S.' partnership with the U.N. LINK

The New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg looks at the pressure Sen. Chafee faces from right and left and center. LINK

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank saw the hearing as an opportunity for Democrats -- particularly the "histrionic" tactics of Sen. Barbara Boxer -- to hammer Bolton and try to rattle him, to no avail. In fact, Milbank basically declares game, set, match. LINK

Sen. John Kerry is targeting Chafee via Internet ads, reports the Boston Herald. LINK

Leader DeLay:

The Washington Post's John Harris -- doing front-page must-read duty -- looks at Scandal Washington, and writes that the old adages about the cover-up being worse than the crime and "get everything out ASAP" aren't necessarily true any more. Given the partisan atmosphere that seems to pervade everything in Washington now, writes Harris, there seems to exist assumptions that serious criticism or all-out abandonment by one's own party is unlikely, so hunkering down and weathering the controversy -- or better yet, going on the offensive over it -- seem reasonable courses of action, even (dare we say) Clintonian. Or maybe DeLay-esque. LINK

USA Today's Kathy Kiely and Jim Drinkard offer a very interesting profile of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay right on the front page, and spell out the career and agenda that hang in the balance in the controversies surrounding him, Noting that for now, the support from his own party and the media offensive on his behalf is keeping him afloat. LINK

Republican leaders are waiting to see if the tides are turning, report the Houston Chronicle's Gebe Martinez and Samantha Levine, as DeLay supporters denounced Rep. Chris Shays and are grumbling about Sen. Santorum. LINK

Roll Call's John Bresnahan previews tomorrow's House ethics committee meeting, and writes that Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) is continuing his fight to overturn the ethics rules changes adopted this session.


Writes Jeanne Cummings in the Wall Street Journal about the filibuster debate: "There is some squabbling over how many votes Mr. Frist needs to change the rules. Democrats say he needs a super majority of perhaps as much as two-thirds of the Senate; Republicans say a simple majority will suffice."

"For now, though, the point may be moot as several Republicans -- a mix of veterans and moderates -- are resisting a hasty decision, leaving Mr. Frist two or three firm votes shy of his goal."

CORRECTION: Yesterday we erroneously misstated Sen. John McCain's position on eliminating filibusters for judicial nominations. Sen. McCain opposes any action to prohibit them, and he reiterated that position on Sunday's "Face the Nation." We did not mean to cause confusion or consternation, and we regret the error.

Roll Call's Kate Ackley and Paul Kane preview the Thursday morning strategy meeting of 200 lobbyists, two Senate leaders, and 50 congressional and Administration aides, led by House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to better coordinate the Republican legislative agenda.

The Los Angeles Times' Justin Dickerson has details of the bomb scare at the Capitol yesterday and the arrest of the man who dropped two suitcases in front of the west side of the building and asked to speak to President Bush. LINK

More from AP. LINK

Social Security:

AP picks up comments Monday by the NAACP's Julian Bond and Dennis Courtland accusing President Bush of "playing the race card" with Social Security. LINK

Bloomberg's Heidi Przybyla reports that AARP, which has pulled out the stops on a massive lobbying effort against President Bush's Social Security plan, "has privately discussed compromises with the White House that include more taxes, future benefit cuts and raising the retirement age." AARP says if they can drop the carve-outs, an agreement on solvency could come quickly. But don't expect a deal soon; at this point, the President isn't budging on personal accounts.

The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne argues that not eliminating the estate tax, which was paid by fewer than 1 percent of the people who died in 2004 and half of the revenue came from estates of $10 million or more, could take care of a whopping portion of the Social Security shortfall. "What we are having is not a real debate on the future of Social Security but a sham discussion in which the one issue that matters to the governing majority is how to keep cutting taxes on the wealthiest people in our country," Dionne writes. LINK


The Washington Post's Michael Dobbs pores over the fascinating sheaf of cables and memos from John Negroponte's tenure as U.S. Ambassador to Honduras released in advance of his confirmation hearing today, showing him as extremely plugged in to the Washington policy establishment and "an exceptionally energetic, action-oriented ambassador whose anti-communist convictions led him to play down human rights abuses in Honduras, the most reliable U.S. ally in the region." But a dealer of "quiet diplomacy" he was not, as he urged national security officials to stay the course against the Sandinistas. LINK

Big Casino budget politics: Medicaid:

Robert Pear obtained the list of 15 states who allegedly used accounting tricks to get more Medicaid funds. LINK

Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Virginia, and Tennessee are on there.

Robert Pear = awesome.


" . . . many economists, liberal and conservative, are perplexed by two unusual trends. Wage growth has trailed far behind productivity growth over the last four years, and the share of national income going to employee compensation is low by historic standards," writes Steven Greenhouse in the New York Times. LINK

Stem cell politics:

"Stepping gingerly into a politically charged arena for the first time, some large companies in the U.S. are pursuing plans to study stem cells drawn from early-stage human embryos," Antonio Regalado writes in the Wall Street Journal.

"Big companies so far have been notably absent from the heated public debate over the scientific and moral implications of such research. But the recent moves show how the scientific -- and commercial -- appeal of embryonic stem-cell research is luring some companies into at least exploratory work. Their involvement could spur spending and help win wider acceptance for the research, but also could draw fire from religious groups and other opponents."

2008: Republicans:

Scott Greenberger of the Boston Globe writes on the morning after pill as Massachusetts Legislation pushes a bill to allow over the counter access. Gov. Mitt Romney has made no recent statements on the issue, but during his 2002 campaign he did promise not to change the abortion laws in Massachusetts.

"On a number of social issues, including same-sex marriage, sex education, and embryonic stem-cell research, Romney has struggled to find a sliver of ground between the views of the Bay State's moderate voters and the conservative voters who wield tremendous influence in the Republican presidential primaries . . . On a questionnaire Planned Parenthood gave to the gubernatorial candidates in 2002, Romney answered yes to the question, ''Do you support efforts to increase access to emergency contraception?" LINK

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich hits New Hampshire next Monday and Tuesday with an itinerary that leaves us winded just looking at it: a $50-per-person fundraiser for the New Hampshire Republican State Committee; meeting conservative activists; meetings with the Concord Monitor, Union Leader and Valley News and an appearance on New England Cable News; speaking to the Dartmouth College Republicans and participating in two signing sessions for his new book, "Winning the Future." He visits Iowa May 12 and 13 for another whirlwind, including a stop at Cornell College.LINK

Sen. Bill Frist nets a mention in a John Fialka story in the Wall Street Journal about a renewed push for ethanol use by 30+ governors. But Fialka charmingly ignores the huge 2008 implications of this story.

2008: Democrats:

On President Clinton's contention that Arthur Finkelstein might be "self-loathing": LINK; LINK

Check out the Michael McKeon pushback!!!

Sen. Clinton responds to speculation over a possible presidential bid: "'06, '06, '06," she says with that trademark laughing response, in a Daily News ed board as wide-ranging as it is newsless. LINK

Page Six picks up Drudge's report that some Penguin executives are worried about Ed Klein's book on Sen. Clinton, due out in late summer. LINK

More from Lloyd Grove. LINK

The Boston Globe's Peter Canellos likens Bill Clinton's relationship with the Bushes to being adopted by a "sprawling clan, legendary for its warmth and unity. It is a clan that is so accustomed to acquiring surrogate sons and daughters that adoption has become a part of its strength" -- and the ultimate centrist political act. LINK

Imagine -- as we do -- the 2008 implications.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) is getting a divorce, he announced Monday. Note UVA Prof. (and Feingold's fellow Rhodes Scholar) Larry Sabato's open-and-shut declaration that this closes the door on Feingold's White House aspirations for 2008. LINK; LINK

Sen. Evan Bayh will keynote the Butler County Democratic Party's Truman-Kennedy-Holcomb Dinner on May 5. LINK

Democrats regroup:

For years now, wealthy liberal activists have formally strategized about the creation of a center-left message machine, similar to the pyramid Bill Bradley described in the New York Times last week and equal in heft and influence to what conservatives built through the Scaife and Bradley funds and the Heritage Foundation. Rob Stein, formerly a top aide to the late Ron Brown, has been the project's intellectual and organizational whip.

Stein and dozens of top party fundraisers will meet this weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona to plan the future of his enterprise, called the Democracy Alliance. These are folks who have seen his fabled PowerPoint and who have agreed to help build a grassroots, communications and think-tank network for liberals and progressives.

From this preliminary meeting, according to several Democrats who planned to attend but who asked not to identified for fear of losing their invitation, will come more concrete proposals down the road for groups, political entities, think tanks, and coordinating bodies.

Some fundraisers have ties to top party officials, although very little time will be spent discussing electoral politics per se.

Note to attendees: e-mail us!!!!


The New York Times' Jim Rutenberg and Patrick D. Healy on Democrats' lament about their mayoral field, from Sheldon Silver to Charles Rangel to Percy Sutton. LINK

"One Democratic strategist, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he has relationships with all of the candidates, said he feared that the party was reverting to its worst instincts by splintering into factions based on race and ethnicity."

Writes the ever-fascinating Jim Dwyer in the New York Times: "A sprawling body of visual evidence, made possible by inexpensive, lightweight cameras in the hands of private citizens, volunteer observers and the police themselves, has shifted the debate over precisely what happened on the streets during the week of the convention." LINK

Roll Call's Erin Billings and Lauren Whittington have basically installed Sen. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) in the governor's mansion and look at the increasingly clear planning (including a $2.5 million fundraiser) of Rep. Bob Menendez to seek his seat.

Schwarzenegger era:

The Los Angeles Times' Dan Morain offers Gov. Schwarzenegger a tutorial on the trickiness of initiatives. LINK


In a Wall Street Journal review, ABC News' Jonathan Karl finds much to enjoy in Don Ritchie's new book about the Washington press corps.


The alleged federal criminal investigation into Rev. Al Sharpton makes the front page of the New York Post. LINK

Jeanne Cummings in the Wall Street Journal has an absolute must-read on Starbucks' growing lobbying effort in Washington, which gives more insight into the process of government affairs than just about anything we've read in a long time.

And it is a must-must read for Clinton alums, what with the star turn role of one Kris Engskov!!!

The Texas House passed a proposed constitutional amendment which would ban same-sex marriage, but leaves room for civil unions. LINK

First, we urge you to watch Politics Live, the all-politics-all-the-time show on ABC News Now, our 24-hour digital news network. Second, we urge you to lend a hand.

The final segment of each Politics Live, "Stump Sam," invites viewers and scholars alike to stump Sam Donaldson with difficult presidential trivia questions. Questions can involve any aspect of presidential trivia, dating from 1950 to the present. (It's harder than you'd think -- Sam is amazing.)

Click here to join in the fun of stumping Sam with your wittiest trivia and win the hottest new fashion accessory -- an orange ABC News Now baseball cap! LINK

Want to see if your question Stumps Sam? Subscribe to ABC News Now today: LINK