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

Writes Beth Fouhy: "One part bulldog, one part philosopher king, the former presidential candidate and new Democratic Party chairman demonstrated in a speech to California Democrats Saturday that he still has the power to mesmerize party activists. But his trip was also marked by the kind of intemperate and controversial moments that remind people why he remains such a political lightning rod." LINK

On Friday at a gay rights group breakfast,. Dean dangled an outline of his party's strategy for 2006 and 2008: Terri Schiavo, the Los Angeles Times' Michael Finnegan reported Saturday. "'We're going to use Terri Schiavo later on,'" Dean said. LINK

"'This is going to be an issue in 2006, and it's going to be an issue in 2008 . . . because we're going to have an ad with a picture of Tom DeLay saying, "Do you want this guy to decide whether you die or not? Or is that going to be up to your loved ones?"'" Dean said.

"The former presidential candidate said he had purposely avoided emphasizing the Schiavo case in recent weeks because Democrats needed 'message discipline.' In this case, he said, that means sticking to the fight against Bush's push to allow private investment accounts for Social Security benefits."

Spokesgal Karen Finney gets to explain to the AP Dean's "use" comment.

2008 Republicans:

Creating a clip that fits right into the McCain-for-president platform, two reporters at The Wall Street Journal take stock of Sen. John McCain's tenure as chair of the Airland subcommittee of the Armed Services committee.

"Sticking with the tactics that worked for him before -- including using internal Pentagon data and relying on the news media -- Sen. McCain is defying the low-key, collegial dealings with defense companies that for decades have been hallmarks of the committee's leadership in both parties. During a hearing this month he ridiculed the Pentagon's acquisition system, saying that 'determining the actual cost of an aircraft' remains 'one of the great imponderables in history.' A few minutes later, he threatened to subpoena cost data on the C-130J cargo plane 'if Lockheed Martin continues to stonewall us.'"

"Such verbal bomb-throwing used to be considered anathema by veteran members of the committee, who typically focused on working out disputes to keep big-ticket projects moving. As the son and grandson of admirals, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate himself and a decorated Vietnam War veteran, Sen. McCain carries none of the political baggage of liberal Democrats who previously criticized the cozy arrangements among contractors, Pentagon officials and those in the Senate controlling the purse strings."

"The McCain offensive takes on added importance because the senator is widely considered a leading contender for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. Aside from the prominence that brings to his efforts, his challenges to contractors help him burnish his reputation as a fighter of government waste."

The Washington Post's Mark Leibovich gives Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) the Style section profile treatment, from religious family man to staunch conservative dismissive of his "whiny" critics who he says see him as "an accidental senator." He's also, Leibovich Notes, the highest-ranking Republican to say publicly that Leader DeLay should explain his actions, the point man on the Bush Social Security plan in the Senate, and focused on bringing religion into political institution. LINK

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