Mike Allen and Michael Fletcher of the Washington Post take Note of President Bush's red-meat phrasing last night at the $23 million Republican mega-fundraiser as he framed the Democrats' role in the Social Security debate as obstructionist, "beginning to insulate himself against possible defeat on Social Security," according to Republican congressional aides. LINK
The Los Angeles Times' Ed Chen takes Note of the dual purpose of President Bush's fundraising activities -- fill the coffers and boost his own legislative agenda. LINK
"Bush's escalation of rhetoric came as his agenda is stuck on hold while Democrats boast that they hope to block his Social Security plans by refusing to negotiate," writes the New York Post's Deborah Orin. LINK
"Bush's get-tough speech offered clues to his strategy for turning things around at a time some analysts have started to paint him as a lame duck."
As they say on "American Morning": only time will tell.
Other must reads today include:
1. John Fialka's short (but detail-laden) summary in the Wall Street Journal of where the energy bill stands, including a smart mining of an OMB report that says that "The president will oppose 'any climate change amendments that are inconsistent with the president's climate change strategy,' which remains centered on voluntary emissions-reduction efforts." (Note question: But would he veto an energy bill solely on that basis?)
(Carl Hulse's similar take in the Times of New York says the various approaches to emissions could "stall" the ball through the summer. LINK)
2. Yoichi Dreazen's Journal think piece on the Bush Administration's seeming lack of a UN strategy. " . . . . Mr. Bolton has yet to lay out a concrete agenda for changing the world body if he is confirmed. And the Bush administration has yet to articulate its preferred answers to far-reaching questions about the institution's future -- such as whether and how to expand the Security Council -- that are being debated by U.N. officials and nations such as China, Russia, Germany and Pakistan. Similarly, U.S. officials are resisting U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's deadline to push through a slate of proposed changes by September, when the world body celebrates its 60th anniversary. U.N. diplomats say the U.S. also is sitting out the early horse-trading and politicking by diplomats hoping to succeed Mr. Annan when his term expires at the end of 2006."
3. USA Today's Susan Page's examination of the coalitions that evangelical Christians have formed with divergent activists who have been their adversaries as they've widened their agenda to include foreign and social policy issues like fighting religious persecution, war, AIDS, poverty, and the environment. LINK
"Evangelicals' engagement on a wider range of issues and their willingness to forge surprising coalitions reflect the growing maturity and sophistication of the most powerful emerging force in American politics today. And while the alliances formed on, say, the Sudan aren't likely to change anyone's mind when the topic turns to abortion or same-sex marriage, they could help moderate the bitter tone of the nation's politics."
Big props to Rich Cizik, who has another positive article he can send to NAE members now.
And, you reading done, you naturally ask us: "What's happening?"