The Note: Talking Is Cheap



Here's your Wednesday Note check-list-slash-quiz.

Quick!!!!!! Print it out, make your educated guesses, and see how you did as you settle in to watch "World News Tonight with Peter Jennings."

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At this morning's Cabinet meeting, President Bush will say what about Karl Rove to the pool? _____________________________________________________

At his speech in Madison, WI tonight, Howard Dean will mention Rove how many times? _______________

Of Dean's Rove mentions how many will be fully and unambiguously supported by the facts? ______________

At his speech in Washington today, Bill Clinton will focus on what? ____________________________________

After his expected grand jury appearance today, will Matt Cooper stop and talk to the press? ______________

After his expected grand jury appearance today, will Matt Cooper leave the courthouse by cab, by hired car, or on foot? _____________________

What is wrong with this sentence from David Sanger's New York Times story: "The entire contretemps at the White House this week centers on whether Mr. Rove tried to discredit Mr. Wilson by suggesting that his mission to Niger was the product of nepotism, and that Ms. Wilson had arranged for it"? ___________________________________________________________________

Who will be the first non-Tancredo potential presidential candidate to respond to DHS Secretary Chertoff's border security proposals?__________________________

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As always, First Prize is a one-year free subscription to the Walt Disney Company's The Note.

In the event of a tie, accurate answers to the following questions will be used to determine the winner:

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The degree to which a clever, well-conceived political strategy can be discerned in Harry Reid's daily comments on the Supreme Court vacancy can best be described how? _______________________________________________

The first prominent Democrat to give Karl Rove the benefit of the doubt will be who? _____________

Robert Luskin's public advocacy on behalf of Karl Rove can best be characterized how? _____________________________________________________________________________

What Yiddish word best describes the personal trait John Bolton possesses as reflected in his alleged request for more office space at the State Department? __________

Which expression has Scott McClellan used more times this week: "this podium" or "in the context of an ongoing investigation"? _______________________

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As suggested above, there are some real marquee events on the political daybook today.

President Bush meets with his Cabinet at 9:55 am ET and will probably be asked a question or two by the pool of reporters ushered in at the bottom of the meeting.

ABC News' Jason Ryan reports, "it is expected that Time reporter Matt Cooper will testify before the grand jury seated for the CIA leak investigation. The current grand jury schedule has the grand jury ready to meet at 9:30 am ET at the US District Court."

Bloomberg's Keil and Rosenkrantz write that "People familiar with the inquiry say (prosecutor) Fitzgerald also is reviewing testimony by former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, though it is not clear whether the prosecutor is focusing on him or seeking information about higher-ups. Fleischer last night refused to comment."

Check out this quote from Rick Davis (whose past with Rove is not alluded to in the piece): "`Karl has been legendary in enforcing party discipline and in being able to pick up the phone and call Congress and get something done. This will make it much harder for him to do that, and there is a lot at stake for this president, in terms of his domestic political agenda, over the next six months.''

But the schedule item the White House hopes to keep its press corps focused on is the release of a revised estimate of the 2005 budget deficit. Those numbers will become public at 11:00 am ET. Don't miss ABC News' Karen Travers' excellent preview in our budget section below.

In tandem with the White House announcement, Senate Budget Chairman Judd Gregg and House Budget Chairman Nussle will hold a media availability at 12:45 pm ET.

The Senate convenes at 9:30 am ET and resumes consideration of H.R. 2360, Homeland Security Appropriations. Amendments will be offered and roll call votes will occur later in the day. Majority Leader Frist intends to complete action on H.R. 2360 by the end of this week.

At 9:30 am ET, the Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on the investigation into allegations of prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay.

Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff speaks on the department's reorganization and future agenda at 1:00 pm ET. Check out ABC News' Pierre Thomas' curtain-raising below.

Former President Clinton keynotes the first annual "Campus Progress National Student Conference" at 12:15 pm ET . More than 500 students from across the country are expected to attend the conference, which begins at 8:30 am ET at the Washington Convention Center.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean continues his weeklong, nationwide fundraising tour with a stop in Madison tonight for a Wisconsin Democratic Party fundraiser.

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman attends two local fundraisers in Waukee, Iowa this evening.

For a look at the rest of the days' political events look at our expanded schedule section below.


The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post all run their day two Rove stories on the front page. Without much new information to go with other than Scott McClellan's assertion of the President's continued confidence in Rove, the stories look at Rove's overall standing with President Bush, his large role at the White House, and the GOP defense/offense machine getting up and running.

"The emerging GOP strategy -- devised by Mehlman and other Rove loyalists outside of the White House -- is to try to undermine those Democrats calling for Rove's ouster, play down Rove's role and wait for President Bush's forthcoming Supreme Court selection to drown out the controversy, according to several high-level Republicans," writes Jim VandeHei in the Washington Post. LINK

And get this blind quote: "Rove has not been asked by senior White House officials whether he did anything illegal or potentially embarrassing to the president and he spent most of the day strategizing on Bush's Supreme Court nomination, aides said."

"'No one has asked him what he told the grand jury. No one has deemed it appropriate,' said a senior White House official, who would discuss the Rove case only on the condition of anonymity. 'What you all need to figure out is, does this amount to a crime? That is a legitimate debate.' Still, some aides said they were concerned about the unknown. "Is it a communications challenge? Sure,' the official said."

The Los Angeles Times' Edwin Chen and Warren Vieth look at the White House strategy of letting the RNC talk while 1600 keeps quiet. LINK

Things to Note in this one: the blind SAR quote; the blind Senate chief of staff quote; and the fact that EVERYONE seems to be quoting David Gergen on this story -- in this case, he plays the Washington Wiseman card of "get it all out, fast."

The Los Angeles Times' Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten step back from daily duty to tell the world that George W. Bush and Karl C. Rove are very close, and the latter has a big portfolio. Most Notable here: Terry Holt on the record telling the world that Rove talks to the media. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's editorial board concludes its leader by saying "If there's any scandal at all here, it is that this entire episode has been allowed to waste so much government time and media attention, not to mention inspire a 'special counsel' probe."

"The Bush administration is also guilty on this count, since it went along with the appointment of prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in an election year in order to punt the issue down the road. But now Mr. Fitzgerald has become an unguided missile, holding reporters in contempt for not disclosing their sources even as it becomes clearer all the time that no underlying crime was at issue. As for the press corps, rather than calling for Mr. Rove to be fired, they ought to be grateful to him for telling the truth."

The RNC's "In Case You Missed It" release doesn't for some reason (!!) seem to include the graph above from the editorial, though it does provide a link to the full editorial. . . in case you missed it.

Note the interesting use of the word "appears" below from the editorial, and we would love to know where the Journal got the part about Rove having heard it from journalists:

"But it appears Mr. Rove didn't even know Ms. Plame's name and had only heard about her work at Langley from other journalists."

In his New York Times White House memo, David Sanger revisits those 16 words in the President's State of the Union address that initially got this into the public consciousness. Sanger also explores the premium the President places on loyalty and the close relationship he has with Karl Rove. LINK

The New York Daily News' Ken Bazinet uses tab-talk in his lede: "President Bush stonewalled yesterday as the White House struggled unsuccessfully to contain the controversy over Karl Rove's fingerprints on the outing of a CIA spy." LINK

Phil Singer's handiwork pushes the Rove story outside the Beltway…into Maryland, where his call for MD Lt. Gov. Steele to ask Rove to cancel a July 26 fundraiser gets John Wagner ink. LINK

Newt Gingrich hit every GOP talking point (Rove did nothing illegal, Wilson was repudiated by Senate Intelligence Committee findings, etc…) on a morning network news show this morning.

The DCCC got a hold of a fundraising invitation for Rep. Gerlach's (R-PA) reelection campaign and kindly passed it along to reporters. According to the invitation, Karl Rove is expected to participate in a VIP roundtable discussion (at $2,500 a head) at Valis Associates in Washington, DC next Tuesday evening.

The New York Times editorial page asks Karl Rove to hold a press conference to clear everything up. LINK

Independent (and politically liberal) investigative journalist Murray Waas posts an account of Bob Novak's alleged testimony to the special prosecutor. LINK

Ian Bishop of the New York Post writes up Rove attorney Robert Luskin's comments to National Review that he believes Cooper "burned" Rove on the Plame story. LINK

Harold Meyerson uses his Washington Post column to demonstrate how the Left feels about Mr. Rove. LINK


Has the White House's public outreach, combined with the somewhat shy responses from Democrats (excluding Robert Byrd, who thanked the President for, uh, consulting, with him), muted the consultation issue politically?

The consultation stuff matters politically, in that it establishes warmer personal and institutional feelings between the Democratic Senators and the President, which might not change their votes, but does make it a little more difficult for them to be so quick to attack.

Unlike in previous major decisions faced by this Administration, giving Congress their institutional prerogatives seems to be what the White House intends here, and it's helping to sooth some of the egos at the other end of the avenue.

Note Ken Mehlman telling Wolf Blitzer yesterday that it is the biggest such consultation ever.

Mike Allen and Dan Balz report that "Attendees said Bush noted that, in his campaign, he had laid out markers on nominating strict constructionists who are not activists and that he is in intent on hewing to those principles. In a light moment, Democrats said there are plenty of activist conservatives, as well as liberals." LINK

The New York Times' Hulse and Stevenson lede their wrap of the President's meeting with congressional leaders with Sen. Specter's call for a search beyond the Circuit Court system. LINK

Maura Reynolds of the Los Angeles Times leads her consultation story with a charming anecdote about Harriet Miers calling Sen. Kohl (and mentions Clinton and Obama talks), but this is the part we like best, regarding the "surprise" that it was O'Connor and not Rehnquist who stepped down: LINK

"'There is definitely more emphasis on women now,' said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, one of several conservative activists who have met with White House officials to discuss the Supreme Court nomination. 'This is not just being politically correct. This is a historic seat. I'd like to see a woman appointed in her place.'"

The New York Post's Deborah Orin explores First Lady Laura Bush's appeal for a female nominee. LINK

Scott Brooks of the Manchester Union Leader delves into Sen. Harry Reid's suggestion that a High Court robe may suit Sen. Judd Gregg handsomely. New Hampshire's Democratic Party chair Kathy Sullivan fanaticizes of the political ramifications. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

ABC's Karen Travers reports, "At 11am, the White House will release a revised estimate of the 2005 budget deficit and one Administration official said to expect a 'considerably improved budget picture' because of strong economic growth and increased tax receipts."

"White House economic adviser Ben Bernanke echoed that sentiment in a speech yesterday at AEI, Noting that increased tax revenue and spending control will reduce the budget deficit for this year 'well below its projected level.'"

"Bernanke did not offer specifics on the figures in the midsession update so we'll have to wait until the wires start binging at 11am – unless President Bush leaks them himself to the pool at the end of his Cabinet meeting."

"If the President holds himself to his standard on leaks, look for OMB Director Josh Bolten to brief reporters on this numbers at 11:30am in Washington."

"The current deficit projection stands at a record high $427 billion for FY05, a figure released in Jan. 2005."

"In Feb. 2004, the White House estimated the deficit at $521 billion but later revised that figure to $412 billion in Oct. of that year."

"Mr. Bush plans to hail the improvement at a cabinet meeting and to cite it as validation of his argument that tax cuts would stimulate the economy and ultimately help pay for themselves," writes the New York Times' Edmund Andrews. LINK

You do not want to miss David Rogers' Big Casino update on Page A3 of the Wall Street Journal.


The Washington Post's Chuck Babington and Dafna Linzer write that Bolton is "prepared to accept" a recess appointment next month if the impasse isn't resolved. LINK

Read to the end of this one and Note some people inside State are dishing on the nominee-in-waiting.

The politics of terror:

ABC News' Pierre Thomas curtain raises Sec. Chertoff's big speech today.

"Under Chertoff's proposals---the oft criticized TSA will have expanded power. It will take over the sky marshal program from immigration and customs enforcement (ICE) and have increased involvement in rail-mass transit areas," reports Thomas.

"The Department of Homeland Security will have a revitalized, more centralized office of intelligence analyzing and distributing info about what the many DHS components are seeing in the field."

"Chertoff will try to make the unwieldy, behemoth agency more accountable by driving policy top-down. The idea is to fix the most pressing and dangerous problems first."

"One of Chertoff's first priorities: borders -- especially the southern one -- which are out of control."

Robert Block in the Wall Street Journal writes that "Republican and Democratic congressional staffers said changing FEMA might be one of Mr. Chertoff's toughest battles. For years, the agency has worked with state and local emergency managers who oppose changing a federal emergency-response system that they know and that has worked well in the past decade."

Sen. Collins' (R-ME) amendment, which is seen as slightly more advantageous to the small states, trumped Sen. Feinstein's (D-CA) amendment geared at getting more money to higher risk areas, reports the New York Times. LINK

The politics of stem cells:

"With President Bush vowing to veto a bill to loosen restrictions on federal financing for embryonic stem cell research, leading Congressional Republicans, including Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, have drafted an alternative that promotes new, unproven methods of obtaining stem cells without destroying embryos," writes Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times. LINK

"The new legislation was being promoted on Tuesday as a middle ground between the bill passed by the House to expand federal financing for the research and Mr. Bush's stance, set down four years ago to permit such financing only for studies on existing embryonic stem cell lines."

Dean's Democrats:

Roll Call's Erin Billings reports that "With tensions on Capitol Hill still somewhat raw over a string of provocative remarks, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean is finding a friendly reception from at least one group of Members who on Tuesday encouraged him to keep up his candid approach. Dean met over breakfast with about 30 Progressive Caucus Democrats to talk about his vision for the party and his ideas for winning back the House, the Senate and the White House."

Social Security:

"Republican leaders are putting a strategy in place to ensure that Bush's No. 1 domestic priority remains on the legislative front burner, even if the Senate's full attention is focused on confirmation hearings for whoever is nominated to succeed retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor," writes Roll Call's Mark Preston.

"While the GOP plan is still in its nascent stages, the idea is to have the House approve a Social Security-related bill and send it to the Senate for consideration. The measure would not address the creation of personal accounts — a sticking point for Democrats — but would rather serve as a building block for a far more reaching reform bill that would be taken up some time in the future."


The AP caught yesterday's Clinton/Santorum encounter and semantic exchange… to be continued at a debate podium near you? LINK

2008: Republicans:

Scot Lehigh of the Boston Globe says despite the presidential speculation that has been floating around Gov. Romney is no 'lame duck,' when it comes to serving as the Bay State governor. LINK

After hearing last weeks comments from Sen. Santorum regarding Boston's "liberalism" directly affecting inappropriate sexual behavior such as pedophilia in Roman Catholic Church, Rep. Barney Frank called Santorum "a jerk" and Sen. McCain said "I think he probably has written off Massachusetts," in regards to a possible 2008 presidential run. LINK

2008: Democrats:

The folks at Glover Park and the RNC will be clipping and saving the Hernandez/Healy must-read look in the New York Times today at Sen. Clinton's "evolution." The duo keys off of Clinton's just-launched 2006 campaign website and explores where she stands on abortion, health care, national security, and immigration. LINK

"Some of her positions, particularly on health care, reflect a true evolution. . . On other fronts, she has changed her emphasis. . .," they write.

More: "If Mrs. Clinton's critics and her supporters agree on one thing, it is that she has proved to be a nimble political operator since coming to the Senate. In many ways, her approach is reminiscent of what her husband once called 'the third way,' the path that exploited the political center."

The New York Daily News breathlessly covers Sen. Clinton pressing the New York MTA for more video cameras. LINK

We know not what to make of this Nashville City Paper editorial, but we'll bet it makes Al & Tipper Gore laugh a little bit when they read it. LINK

The Manchester Union Leader's Don McLean covered Sen. Bayh's visit to a New Hampshire solar cell machinery manufacturer and writes up the Hoosier's commitment to growing alternative energy businesses. McLean includes some Birch Bayh history and Sen. Bayh's support for the Granite State's first-in-the-nation primary.


The Des Moines Register's Jonathan Roos writes that this weekend's $2.2 million governor's conference is mostly brought to you -- well, to Iowa, actually -- by various corporate sponsors. LINK


Team Bloomberg is happy to have the mayor share with the world that he takes constituent phone calls at his listed home phone number, but don't call too late. The New York Post's Stephanie Gaskell has details. LINK

The New York Daily News and the New York Times have it too. LINK and LINK

Crain's Insider has this on the Republican primary (yes, you read that correctly) for mayor in New York: "Ognibene is not expected to file enough signatures to survive a petition challenge by the mayor."


USA Today's Richard Wolf grabs the latest interview with John Sweeney; Sweeney is optimistic about reconciling with the dissidents; Bruce Raynor, a dissident, is not. LINK

Other schedule items:

At 1:00 pm ET today, religious leaders participate in a Center for American Progress conference call to urge Leader Frist to bring a stem cell research bill before the Senate.

Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Arlen Specter (R-PA), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) join Reps. Michael Castle (R-DE) and DeGette (D-CO) for an 11:30 am ET news conference to urge the passage of stem cell research legislation. TV friendly advocates Michael J. Fox and Dana Reeve will join them.

Continuing her tour of Africa, First Lady Laura Bush travels to Tanzania today for a visit to an AIDS support center and a women's education fund.

Democrats and Republicans are expected to spar today when they markup the controversial Patriot Act reauthorization bill at a 10:00 am ET meeting of the House Select Intelligence Committee.

At 10:00 am ET , the House Armed Services Committee meets for a hearing on the national security implications of the potential merger of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation and Unocal Corporation.

Senators get a private intelligence briefing with John Negroponte at 3:00 pm ET.

At 2:00 pm ET, Sens. Jon Corzine (D-NJ), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Robert Wexler (D-FL) unite with a slew of bipartisan representatives for a press conference on the upcoming Weekend of Pray and Reflection for Victims of Genocide in Darfur to be held July 15-17.

And at 11:30 am ET , Alan Keyes, Howard Phillips, Stephen Peroutka and other conservatives hold a news conference to advocate for the nomination of Ten Commandments judge Roy Moore to the Supreme Court.