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

Though an explicitly self-proclaimed FORMER candidate, Steve Forbes echoed the thoughts of many an Iowan (and many an American) over the weekend when he called for the President to clarify his Social Security guidelines, while tenaciously championing his own flat-tax plan. LINK

Writes the Wall Street Journal editorial board, in a scathing editorial: "AARP's not-so-hidden big-government agenda is to ensure those promises are kept largely by raising taxes, though the organization has in the past been willing to go along with benefit cuts such as raising the retirement age."

We consider this editorial a must-read for a variety of reasons we refuse to reveal here.

Bush agenda:

An April Iowa poll show that those in the heartland state of Iowa may not (HEART) President Bush as readily as they once did, according to weekend statistical reviews from Jonathan Roos and Jane Norman in Sunday's Des Moines Register. Mirroring the rest of the country, the poll numerically displayed citizens' distrust of the President's capacity to govern. The usual topics were covered: including job efficacy, Social Security, and Iraq, evoking recently familiar responses: such as disappointment, confusion, agitation (respectively). LINK

"Bush's current 42 percent approval mark among Iowans is the lowest of his presidency and half of what his approval rating was in 2001 in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks."

"That's a reversal of opinion from two years ago, when a May 2003 Iowa Poll showed a 55 percent majority of Iowans thought the nation was on the right path, while 37 percent said it was on the wrong track."

" 'The country is directionless,' said Goetz, 63, a political independent. 'I don't think the country is going the right way.' "

"He cited high gasoline prices, inaction on illegal immigration, proposed changes in Social Security that many people dislike, and continuing casualties in Iraq."

The Washington Post's Robin Wright and Al Kamen (we LOVE that byline!) look at the Bush Administration's newly hatched effort at the State Department to reach out to the Islamic world. Or soon to be hatched: Karen Hughes, appointed last month to craft the strategy, is expected to start as late as the fall, and Dina Powell, her second in command, is expected to start in the next two or three months. Neither woman, who must be approved by the Senate, has had her paperwork sent through yet. In addition, Wright and Kamen write, the program to reach out to Muslims contains no Muslim staff. LINK

Hats off to the Administration press operation for dropping the Education Department's IG report on Armstrong Williams late on a Friday afternoon. LINK

The mysterious Mr. Dunn will at some point have to face the media, won't he?

In Saturday's Union Leader, John DiStaso summed up a recent confirmation of one of President Bush's HUD nominees after Sen. John Sununu quelled temporary disruptions. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Michael Phillips fronts a page-one look at the Millennium Challenge funds that President Bush prioritized.

The New York Times' Brent Staples urges the civil rights establishment to do whatever it can to make No Child Left Behind a success. LINK

Elisabeth Bumiller on the centrality of baseball to the leadership development of President Bush -- and gets Roland Betts on the record!!! LINK

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