The Note: Bet the Ranch

" . . .[A]administration officials have had to grapple with Bolton's reputation among his friends as a blunt truth-teller, and among his foes as an undiplomatic loose cannon. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has telephoned Democratic and Republican senators to ask for their support, has emphasized in conversations with at least two senators that as U.N. ambassador, Bolton would be strictly scripted by Washington, three Senate sources said."

"'We think that we can control him,' Rice told one senator, two Senate aides said. 'If he strays from the reservation, he's out.'"

Newsweek's Mark Hosenball hears there are more allegations that Bolton tried to intimidate career officials who disagreed with his hard-liner stance, and Notes that "Bolton's critics are also pressing for details of requests he made for National Security Agency electronic 'intercepts' containing the names of U.S. officials." LINK

Rekha Basu of the Des Moines Register isn't too big on Bolton . . . or on the allegedly meddlesome efforts of the Bush/Rove/Cheney triumvirate to (re)energize supporters. LINK

Bush agenda:

The Iranian government is planning to defend its nuclear energy program and insist on having access to the same technology as the other members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at a conference beginning today, in anticipation of a speech President Bush is expected to give urging action against Tehran if it doesn't disclose certain elements of the program, the Washington Post's Dafna Linzer reports, in a story that is Sangerian. LINK

The Washington Post's John Harris and Jim VandeHei take a front-page look at the first 100 days of President Bush's second term, and wonders whether all the talk about the "realignment" that he and his party saw in 2004 is actually coming to bear. For one thing, holding the party together has proved in some ways tougher than the President might have though on Social Security, and there are distractions galore, such as judicial filibusters. LINK

"Instead, some political analysts say it is just as likely that Washington is witnessing a happens-all-the-time phenomenon -- the mistaken assumption by politicians that an election won on narrow grounds is a mandate for something broad. In Bush's case, this includes restructuring Social Security and the tax code and installing a group of judges he was unable to seat in his first term. This was the error that nearly sank Bill Clinton's presidency in his first years in office in 1993 and 1994 when he put forth a broad health care plan, and that caused then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich's Republican 'Revolution' to stall in 1995 in a confrontation over cutting spending for popular domestic programs."

". . . .Even among many influential conservatives, there has been a growing consensus that the Bush governing theory, at least on Social Security, has been proved wrong. The conservative Weekly Standard magazine recently warned in a headline of a 'Social Security Quagmire,' and argued that Bush should position himself so that a defeat on the issue does not cripple other parts of his agenda or produce big Republican losses in next year's congressional elections."

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