The Note: "Nervously Watching"

WASHINGTON, July 14

NEWS SUMMARY

And so we wait.

While we are all waiting for an updated report on the Chief's status, Matt Cooper's Time Magazine account of his experience testifying before the grand jury, and a new Shuttle launch date, we thought we'd provide you with your absolute must-reads of the day.

1. From Ron Fournier's latest news analysis: "Still, several top GOP officials -- including some White House advisers -- said the fight was becoming a distraction to Bush's agenda. The GOP officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid looking disloyal, said the president may face a credibility problem because his spokesman said in September that anybody involved in the leak would be fired." LINK

"These Republicans, all admirers of Rove, said they were surprised and disappointed when Bush stopped short of publicly backing his longtime aide."

2. Key paragraphs in John Harwood's write up of the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll:

"A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows how much Mr. Bush's political standing has been weakened as he confronts controversy over a top aide's discussion of a Central Intelligence Agency operative's employment, a Supreme Court vacancy, his Social Security plan and Iraq. Majorities of Americans disapprove of the president's handling of the economy, foreign policy and Iraq. And a plurality rates Mr. Bush negatively on "being honest and straightforward" for the first time in his presidency."

"Nevertheless, the president continues to benefit from resilient support for the U.S. presence in Iraq even after two years of insurgent attacks. By 57% to 42%, Americans say it is important to maintain the nation's military and economic commitment to Iraq until it can govern and control itself. And by 61% to 34%, they agree with Mr. Bush's assertion, which he recently reiterated in a nationally televised speech, that the war in Iraq is part of the broader war against terrorism."

"Just 17% of Americans rated terrorism and homeland security their top priority for the government, slightly down from 20% in January; the poll's margin of error is 3.1 percentage points. The Iraq war and the economy were both rated as slightly greater concerns. Fully 63% of Americans say it would be a move in "the right direction" to pick a justice who backs displaying the Ten Commandments on government property, a popular stance with the Republican Party's conservative base."

"Yet 55% of Americans also applaud the idea of a justice who would uphold affirmative action, a key demand of liberals. More problematic for the right, which for three decades has blasted the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, a robust 65% of Americans say the court shouldn't overturn Roe. As the party in control of the White House and Congress, Republicans have the most to lose from broad public unease. By 45% to 38%, Americans say they would prefer that the 2006 elections produce a Democratic-controlled Congress rather than a Republican-controlled Congress."

"Yet Republicans can take some solace from the fact that Democrats aren't winning much public applause either. The Democratic Party is rated negatively 36% to 34%, while Republicans are rated negatively 41% to 38%."

3. And the latest USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll finds "overwhelming support for putting another woman on the court. Three of four favored appointing a woman to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to serve on the high court." LINK

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