WASHINGTON, June 3
As long-time readers know, on the first Friday of every month, The Note presents our popular and lively "Best" awards for politics and political journalism.
As always, the past 30 days saw fierce competition in all the regular categories.
But when the going gets tough, the tough vote and decide — and so we have.
The best newspaper stories explaining the real world and how it works (tie):
1. The Wall Street Journal's Jaffe and Solomon with a blockbuster explanation of how China is front-and-center on the Bush Administration's radar.
2. The Boston Globe's Mike Kranish on George W. Bush and the power of gaming interests in the Republican Party. (Note to Frank Fahrenkopf: another bullet dodged, we'd say.) LINK
The best week covering the story of the Washington Post and Deep Throat:
The New York Times' Todd Purdum, who today turns in another you-must-read-every-word opus on Woodstein, through the years and now, with Robert Redford quotes that will melt in your mouth and a blithely-thrown in "Martin and Lewis" reference. (Note to younger Note readers: that does NOT refer to "Chris Martin and "Lewis Black.") LINK
The best try at an Andy-Card-says-the-glass-is-half-full take on the status of the Bush presidency:
The Los Angeles Times' Janet Hook hits us with her best shot. LINK
The best news Capitol Hill Republicans have had this week:
The Washington Post's Jeff Birnbaum and Derek Willis report that Jack Abramoff's largess spilled out over leading Democrats. LINK
The best political strategist quotes of the news cycle (tie):
1. Mike Murphy: ''The quote in the National Review article was not what I meant to communicate. I was discussing a characterization the governor's critics use. I regret the quote and any confusion it might have caused." LINK
2. Ron Kaufman: ''[I] spent a lot of hours on that campaign three years ago, and on this issue, the governor was focused, disciplined, and consistent that if elected governor, he wouldn't change one comma on the laws surrounding life. That was always his answer, and he's kept his word. He's not faking anything." (If you don't know why that quote is so brilliant, you need to read The Note more often.) LINK
3. Joe Mercurio: ""As a political consultant who worked on Ms. Ferraro's successful first congressional race, and as an Italian-American who was proud to see her as the first Italian-American on a national political party's ticket, I was very disappointed to see her endorse against a strong candidate who has a shot at becoming the first woman mayor of New York City." LINK
Best GE/NBC/Universal/presidential analogy:
Jamie Gangel is to 41 as Brian Williams is to 42.
Best Yoda/Luke relationship:
Trent Duffy/Tracey Schmitt for the admirable passing on of tone and on-messageness.
Best humorous use of the word "privately" in a major newspaper:
Michael Fletcher of the Washington Post, for this today gem: "But with midterm election campaigns approaching, some of the president's aides say privately that his most ambitious initiatives, including restructuring Social Security, must win broader support soon if they are going to be enacted this year."
Best rhetoric to teach the Cheney grandkids how NOT to talk to (or about) others:
Grandpa and the North Koreans. LINK
As for isolation in the more idyllic sense, President Bush woke up at his ranch in Crawford, TX this morning and has no public events scheduled today.
He and Mrs. Bush plan to remain mostly out of sight there for the duration of the weekend. The president will make remarks urging passage of CAFTA in Ft. Lauderdale, FL on Monday as he makes his way back (non-linearly) to the White House in preparation for his meeting and working dinner with Tony Blair on Tuesday.
The Labor Department released the employment report for May at 8:30 am ET this morning reporting 78,000 new jobs were created in the month of May. ABC News' Dan Arnall: "Much less than the expected 180,000. National unemployment rate ticked down to 5.1%."
At 11:45 am ET, Secretary of State Rice will release the 5th annual "State Department Trafficking in Persons Report" in the briefing room of the State Department. Secretary Rice's 3:15 p.m. ET meeting with Gov. Pataki (R-NY) about his upcoming assignment at the OSCE conference in Spain will be closed to the press. (Considering Dr. Rice's love for the NFL, we wonder if any Westside stadium talk will make its way into the meeting.)
Howard Dean is the featured guest at a Missouri Democratic Party membership drive in Kansas City, MO at 3:00 pm ET. We'll have to see if any Show Me reporters ask him about all those quotes in USA Today today from "friendly" Democrats.
Bill Moyers, Rev. Jim Wallis, Kim Gandy, and Rev. Jesse Jackson are the headliners at the Campaign for America's Future conference today.
CAF will also join with Americans United to Protect Social Security for a march and rally to protest the president's Social Security plan. The march begins at 2:45 pm ET. They plan to arrive across the street from the White House in Lafayette Park at 3:30 pm ET.
In San Francisco, CA, former Vice President Al Gore discusses climate change at a UN World Environment Day event.
On the 2008 campaign trail, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney headlines New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women Lilac Dinner in Manchester, NH. (This is the same venue where then Gov. George W. Bush made his first public foray onto the New Hampshire campaign trail in 1999.) The social hour is set for 6:00 pm ET. The dinner begins at 7:00 pm ET.
And former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani delivers the keynote address at the National Association of Real Estate Editors in Washington, DC today at 11:20 am ET.
Bill Clinton will be a live guest on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" at 2:00 pm ET (check your local listings).
The Senate will reconvene on Monday, June 6 at 2:00 pm ET and resume consideration of the nomination of Janice Brown to the DC Circuit. No roll call votes are scheduled for Monday, and the Senate will vote on cloture on the Brown nomination at noon ET on Tuesday, June 7.
On Sunday, former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee will chat about all things Watergate and Deep Throat with George Stephanopoulos on "This Week."
Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) will also be on the program and will share some thoughts on Deep Throat with George as well as on the current state of affairs in Iraq, the Amnesty International report, and much more. And capping this week looking back at those iconic moments in American history, what could be better than the classic "This Week" roundtable? You won't want to miss George Will, Cokie Roberts, and Sam Donaldson when they join George on Sunday morning.
Deep Throat revealed:
Todd Purdum's New York Times' story begins by quoting Murray Kempton, so you know you must read it. He writes of the apparently delicate meta-negotiations between Wood and Stein over the new book -- though the Simon and Schuster release we saw yesterday only mentions Woodward. LINK
"But as they appeared together Thursday night on 'Larry King Live,' Mr. Bernstein said, 'It'll probably be by both of us," while a somber-faced Mr. Woodward, who was caught on videotape Thursday visiting the White House for yet another book project, on the second Bush administration, graciously allowed only that they could get a book deal if they wanted one."
Purdum's apparent joy while choosing his words to describe Carl Bernstein this week has been infectious.
The New York Daily News reports on the rush-to-print Deep Throat book as if Bernstein has nothing to do with it. LINK
USA Today 's Bob Minzesheimer has details on the book as well. LINK
Sales for "All the President's Men" (both the book and movie version) have climbed rapidly this week, reports Ian Bishop of the New York Post . LINK
Writes John Harwood in the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: "House Tax Chairman Thomas assures colleagues his Social Security package won't increase payroll levies, but prospect of benefit cuts leaves other Republicans jittery. Some talk of a nonbinding resolution embracing Bush's ideas but delaying action in favor of another bipartisan commission."
"Administration aides aim for quick action on energy and Central America trade pact, and predict they'll smooth over cost differences with Senate negotiators to produce highway bill that Bush can trumpet. Backers of bipartisan stem-cell bill look to Specter and Hatch to rally veto-proof Senate majority, though they failed to do so in the House."
From another item: "Some tax experts say the White House may consider a VAT in tax overhaul, shifting from reliance on income levies. Backers say taxing consumption, through a VAT or sales tax, could boost savings."
The Los Angeles Times' Warren Vieth and Joel Havemann look at how President Bush is positioning Social Security as a means to a "nest egg" in his trips around the country to promote it, and the questions raised by his critics about his private accounts plan, which won't solve the solvency problem, and whether or not the savings plan analogy is the right one to draw. LINK
In a news analysis, Janet Hook of the Los Angeles Times writes that President Bush is neither walking nor quacking like a lame duck, but rather ambitiously pushing forward on his agenda and still enjoying a lot of goodwill among Republicans on the Hill, even though things to some are looking less promising because of "the enormous obstacles he faces in Congress, around the country and across the globe." LINK
Michael Fletcher of the Washington Post reports that while President Bush is struggling with Democrats and members of his own party on his agenda and facing flagging poll numbers on how he's handling some issues, he remains a huge draw on the fundraising circuit, and he and Vice President Cheney regularly provide the star power allowing congressional candidates, the Republican Party and party campaign committees to pull in millions. LINK
The SEC's new Cox-swain:
The New York Times' Steve Labaton looks at Rep. Christopher Cox's future as top securities regulator through the eyes of his past – "a devoted student of Ayn Rand, the high priestess of unfettered capitalism — (he) has a long record in the House of promoting the agenda of business interests that are a cornerstone of the Republican Party's political and financial support." LINK
"A major recipient of contributions from business groups, the accounting profession and Silicon Valley, he has fought against accounting rules that would give less favorable treatment to corporate mergers and executive stock options. He opposes taxes on dividends and capital gains. And he helped to steer through the House a bill making investor lawsuits more difficult. That measure, which Congress adopted over President Bill Clinton's veto, was hailed by business groups, which say it has reduced costly and frivolous cases."
"Mr. Cox may end up being more regulatory-minded than his backers expect," a trio of Wall Street Journal writers report.
The Journal's editorial page doesn't think so. "We assume the appointment marks the end of the era of post-Enron regulatory overkill."
The Washington Post's Carrie Johnson takes a closer look at President Bush's nomination of Cox to be the new head of the Securities and Exchange Commision. LINK
Jonathan Peterson and Richard Simon of the Los Angeles Times take a look at Cox and his relationship to business, and the mixed reception his nomination has thus far received. LINK
Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein calls Cox's nomination a sign of "the return to pliant directors, misleading financial statements, disenfranchised shareholders and runaway executive salaries. Cox's philosophy of corporate governance is that investors who don't like how a company is run should simply sell their shares and put their money somewhere else." LINK
Jean Pasco of the Los Angeles Times looks at the contenders to fill Cox's seat. LINK
Dan Balz of the Washington Post was at the Take Back America conference yesterday, where DNC Chairman Howard Dean threw a few handfuls of Blue meat to the crowd when he accused President Bush of failing to protect Americans' pensions and sideswiped Republicans when talking about election reform. In between pithy one-liners, however, Dean did manage to squeeze in a suggestion to make pensions portable (for which Balz slaps him). Former Sen. John Edwards also addressed the group, going after the president's budget and saying that Democrats need to stand up for what they believe in. LINK
Jill Lawrence of USA Today writes that Dean started strong by talking about his 50-state strategy, then didn't exactly create a welcoming environment for moderate GOP crossovers with his comment that a lot of Republicans "have never made an honest living in their lives." LINK
"Dean's remark was the latest in a string of provocative comments that Democratic strategists say fire up activists but complicate the job of expanding the party. 'He's got a lot of pluses, and he fires off the occasional errant missile,' consultant David Axelrod said."
"Axelrod and other Democrats counted Thursday's incident as a missile. 'That kind of language doesn't exactly improve our chances of making the case' to Republicans that they should vote Democratic, he said. Mike McCurry, a strategist for John Kerry's 2004 campaign and the Clinton White House, said Dean was making a point about 'the pressures on working people.' But he added, 'Class warfare usually doesn't get us very far.'"
"Matt Bennett, spokesman for the Democratic centrist group Third Way, called the comment 'a poor choice of words.' Still, he said, 'I can't think of a single instance in which an utterance by a party chair has really had a huge impact on an election.'"
Big points to former Republican Party chairman Ed Gillespie for working in a NASCAR reference.
Big points to Jill for getting all those quotes!!!!
The Washington Post's Jeffrey Birnbaum and Derek Willis report that while yes, Jack Abramoff got $82 million in lobbying and public relations fees from six Indian tribes and spent a lot of time working on Republican lawmakers on their behalf, he directed campaign contributions from the tribes to Democrats as well — including then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), then-House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO), then-DCCC chairman Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), and DSCC chair Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). For their part, Democrats seem to be trying to distance themselves from Abramoff proper, while acknowledging relationships with the Democratic lobbyists who worked for him. LINK
The Washington Post 's Peter Baker reports that the White House is gearing up to test the strength of the filibuster compromise with a whole slew of new judicial nominations — they've been vetting candidates for more than 30 federal district and appeals court slots, Baker writes — in the next few weeks, unless there happens to be a vacancy on the Supreme Court later this month. LINK
(Note the Wall Street Journal correctly says that Democrats are still undecided about what to do about blocking Bolton — or not — in the Senate.)
Charles Krauthammer writes that the allegations about prisoner mistreatment and mishandling the Koran at Guantanamo Bay are no reason to shut the place down, and "[t]he self-flagellation has gone far enough." LINK
E.J. Dionne chastises President Bush's critics on human rights and Guantanamo Bay for using overwrought language that allows him to dismiss the allegations as "absurd" and politically motivated, and encourages them not to back down in the face of the administration's push-back. LINK
The AP reports that campaign volunteers for Tom DeLay will start gathering the 500 signatures needed to put DeLay on the Republican primary ballot on March 7. Republicans say this move is to energize DeLay supporters while Democrats believe this is a sign of DeLay's weakening support on the home front. LINK
The Clintons of Chappaqua:
A "Defamer operative" submitted a report to the cheeky SoCal site about the Hillary Clinton fundraiser at the Los Angeles home of producer/director Roland Emmerich. The brief but colorful account includes a swipe at disorganized Kerry fundraisers of the past, a nod to the guest of honor's benevolence with her speaking time, and an observation of the relative dearth of celebrities — the presence of Defamer pet, starlet-chameleon Lindsay Lohan, notwithstanding. LINK
Note to PSD: the invite leaked!!!! LINK
The Los Angeles Times ' Anne-Marie O'Connor looks at the Hollywood glitterati, including Warner Bros. chief Alan Horn, Christina Aguilera, Scarlett Johansson and Jake Gyllenhaal, who came out to support Senator Hillary Clinton on Wednesday night at a series of fundraisers that reportedly brought in $1 million. LINK
Note the kicker blind quotes please, as they will in Chappaqua, and guess along about who said it!!!
A day delayed, the New York Times ' Raymond Hernandez writes that Bill Clinton deviated oh-so-slightly from the closely-followed HRC script (i.e., "2008? Huh? What's that? We're focused on 2006 and serving the great state of New York.") on Larry King Live.
"In running for re-election, Mrs. Clinton will almost certainly be buffeted by Republican demands that she pledge to serve out her term if she wins. In discussing the matter, Mr. Clinton suggested that his wife follow the strategy George W. Bush employed when he ran for a second term as governor of Texas in 1998: He refused to rule out the possibility of cutting short his second term in office to become president." LINK
Raju Chebium of the Asheville Citizen-Times has Sen. Edwards in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination for sure. LINK
Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) has a packed Granite State schedule next week including Tuesday's "Politics and Eggs" breakfast, a summit on Latino business and economic development, some radio talk shows, a couple of press availabilities, and the Carroll County Democratic Party Grover Cleveland Dinner.
Raphael Lewis of The Globe reports that Gov. Mitt Romney's political adviser Michael Murphy was quoted saying that the Bay State governor has always been a pro-choice Mormon. He told the National Review in a story that hits newsstands today, "he's been a pro-life Mormon faking it as a pro-choice friendly." Murphy has issued a statement and said he misspoke, "I was discussing a characterization the governor's critics use. I regret the quote and any confusion it might have caused." LINK
Amazingly, the paper (along with the Boston Herald) fails to go back to the National Review reporter to see if the out-of-context explanation is accurate.
Terry Eastland of the Weekly Standard writes an in depth profile of Gov. Mitt Romney titled, "In 2008, Will It Be Mormon in America?" Eastland profiles Romney from his days at BYU to his rise in state politics and looks further to a possible run for the White House. Romney's religion will play a huge card if he joins the race for president and although he has limited political experiences, his record on social and economic issues plus his ambitious attitude is one that conservatives favor, some say. LINK
"Showing again what money can buy, Mayor Bloomberg launched a new campaign ad yesterday touting higher test scores in city schools — just a day after the results were released," writes New York Daily News City Hall bureau chief Dave Saltonstall. LINK
New York Post columnist John Podhoretz looks at Michael Bloomberg's good week (thus far) and wonders, if he can add the stadium feather to his cap as well, what it all means. LINK
"It means Bloomberg goes before New York City voters in this year's election with an enviable and exploitable record of accomplishment. He risked it all on education and it looks like education is paying off for him. He's risked a great deal on the stadium — and if the cement trucks start rolling up Tenth Avenue and begin pouring out the material to make the huge platform on which the new facility will sit, he will be able to say he got it done."
Lesson 302 about New York politics: Never -- we mean NEVER -- insult Geraldine Ferraro. LINK
Maggie Haberman of the New York Daily News Notes the bristling at Joe Mercurio's remarks that took place in the Ferrer camp yesterday. LINK
As everyone waits for the white or black smoke to rise in Albany . . .
The New York Post editorializes for the stadium: LINK
As does the New York Daily News (on its front page!): LINK
The New York Times is against: LINK
We suspect this might come up on the campaign trail:
Reports Anahad O'Connor in the New York Times , "Four years after scores of rescue workers were injured in the smoldering wreckage of the World Trade Center, the federal government plans to rescind $125 million that was allocated to help them, and many of those who requested compensation are finding their claims being disputed at 10 times the rate that typical workers face. The money, included in a $20 billion aid package the federal government gave to New York in late 2001, was part of $175 million that was earmarked for the state's workers' compensation program. So far, only $50 million of the part set aside for trade center workers has been spent, and a provision in the Bush administration's budget for fiscal 2006 would reclaim the remaining $125 million." LINK
A Wall Street Journal editorial attacks arch-nemesis Eliot Spitzer as essentially being craven about his political ambitions.
The Houston Chronicle covers the battleground for 2006 as Texans gear up for a possibly fierce gubernatorial race. Gov. Rick Perry has announced he will run for reelection, but many Republicans are waiting to see who will challenge the governor and a favorite candidate would be Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Hutchison will not announce her decision to run until late summer and if she decides to run her open senate seat would be another hot battle to watch. LINK
Lee Bandy of The State covers the one-sided relationship between the South Carolina legislature and Gov. Mark Sanford. As Sanford repeatedly tries to push through state legislation, his legislature rejects it again and again. "Despite the disappointing year, Sanford is keeping his chin up." LINK
Dick DeVos says "he intends to seek the Republican nomination to challenge Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2006," reports the Detroit News. LINK
"President Bush will return $4,000 in campaign contributions donated by Toledo area coin dealer Tom Noe and his wife, officials said yesterday," reports the Toledo Blade. LINK
"Rep. Peter King is on the short list of candidates to take the reins of the influential House Homeland Security Committee — a post that would enable him to direct a bonanza of bucks to New York first responders," reports the New York Post 's Ian Bishop as he explains how the fifth most senior Republican could possibly catapult to the top spot. LINK
"Before his federal indictment this week on charges of plotting to overthrow the Cambodian government, the Long Beach accountant [Yasith Chun] had raised $6,550 for the National Republican Congressional Committee and was invited to sit on the group's Business Advisery Council, which has tens of thousands of members nationwide, said Carl Forti, a spokesman for the committee," reports the Los Angeles Times ' David Pierson, eating Gerstein's dust. LINK
The company is branching out its advertising -- see: LINK
Meanwhile, Wal-Mart's not so happy about some robo-calls that Wal-Mart Watch, or the Center for Community and Corporate Ethics, as it's known in loftier circles, has been making to Wal-Mart employees, soliciting reports of unethical behavior by the retail giant. The company has sent a "cease and desist" letter to the group, saying that the language of the calls is misleading and could make people think the corporation is sponsoring them. LINK
Gubernatorial election on trial:
The Seattle Times' David Postman reports that Judge Bridges says he'll rule from the bench on Monday in the trial over the gubernatorial election results. At issue is whether he'll accept the Republican counting method of divvying up the illegal votes by proportional deduction. If Bridges allows the method, he has to pick the votes he considers illegal, then do the math. LINK
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Gregory Roberts reminds that whoever loses the case is sure to appeal to the state Supreme Court. LINK
The Spokesman-Review's Jim Camden reports that the Spokane County Republican Party, as well as the Washington state Republican Party, have asked Spokane Mayor Jim West to resign. LINK