The Note: Blessed Is He Who Expects Nothing . . .

WASHINGTON, April 18

NEWS SUMMARY

Fascinating sideshows: the trajectory of the Bolton nomination; Bob Kerrey as . . . Bob Kerrey; and early season baseball standings.

The real deals to watch: why are Republican leaders on the Hill looking for compromises on the ethics committee standoff (in the House) and the filibuster situation (in the Senate)?; what is Chairman Grassley up to on Social Security?; and what are gas prices (and the stock market?) doing to the President's poll standing?

The cardinal electors will proceed into the papal conclave session at approximately 10:30 am ET today.

President Bush visits the South Carolina Statehouse at 12:10 pm ET today to talk about Social Security and possibly tap House Speaker David Wilkins as ambassador to Canada. The House chamber is expected to include up to 169 state legislators, two U.S. Senators, the governor, and a gallery that seats 194 people. Legendary Lee Bandy offers a preview of the day in the state's biggest paper: LINK

The President is greeted in Columbia today by a State editorial that asks him to be full, fair, and honest about Social Security. And nicer to the state's senior Senator. LINK

The United States Senate and House are both in session. The Senate at two meets to consider the Iraq/Afghanistan supplemental appropriations bill. The U.S. Supreme Court meets for orders and arguments. (Decisions are expected tomorrow.)

The focus for some this week will be on preps for the fight over filibuster reform. Democrats will do an event a day on it, and a GOP Senate leadership aide tells us that this week will see "more heat than light."

Frist continues to work on his alternative to the nuclear/constitutional option and hopes to present it to Sen. Harry Reid within the next 14 days.

Republicans continue to pressure, cajole, nudge, the two Senators from Maine, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Sen. John Warner of Virginia, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, maybe Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. John Sununu of New Hampshire and Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire. (In case ya missed it, Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana said yesterday he was not inclined to vote against the leadership; see: LINK )

The conventional wisdom in Washington is that Bob Novak's assurances that Frist has the votes isn't quite on the mark, but might be closer to the truth than Democrats want to believe.

In case WE missed any of the above Senators coming out one way of the other, please let us know!

There's also the little matter of the nomination of John Bolton to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, with a vote still currently slated for tomorrow, as news stories come too fast to keep up with out of the woodwork, and the focus falls on Sens. Chafee (R-Blue) and Hagel (R-Red).

And those looking for a DeLay shoe to drop today will have to be creative. Note that David Rogers of the Wall Street Journal says that the Speaker is looking for a solution.

No Child Left Behind critic Dr. Betty Sternberg meets with Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings in Washington. LINK

Republican National Committee chair Ken Mehlman has finance events in Georgia and Louisiana. DNC Chairman Howard Dean is in Naples, FL to meet with Collier County Democrats.

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