The Note: Tough Duck

The Washington Post's Mike Allen and Paul Bluestein, writing of the "dramatic" early morn, Note that "The last-minute negotiations for Republican votes resembled the wheeling and dealing on a car lot. Republicans who were opposed or undecided were courted during hurried meetings in Capitol hallways, on the House floor and at the White House. GOP leaders told their rank and file that if they wanted anything, now was the time to ask, lawmakers said, and members took advantage of the opportunity by requesting such things as fundraising appearances by Cheney and the restoration of money the White House has tried to cut from agriculture programs. Lawmakers also said many of the favors bestowed in exchange for votes will be tucked into the huge energy and highway bills that Congress is scheduled to pass this week before leaving for the August recess." LINK

Note how the RNC paints Sen. Clinton as un-DLC on this, and how the number of votes from House Democrats represents a low-water mark for the party on recent trade votes.

Roberts: the battle ahead:

The Turley-Durbin conflict, chronicled exhaustively (and relatively exclusively) by Charles Hurt in the Washington Times, (See: LINK) keeps trolling along. We do not profess to know why Prof. Turley's version of the NBC green room conversation does not jibe with Sen. Durbin's, nor why, if Sen. Durbin said something truly outrageous, Fred Thompson would defend him (channeling the Judge's recollection of the conversation).

Today, watch for Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL), the chairman of the House International Relations Committee, to send a letter to Durbin seeking clarification.

From a portion of the letter, obtained by ABC News: "'Practicing Catholics need not apply' cannot become a rallying cry of modern day religious bigots who would seek to drive from the public square all federal office candidates of faith. I hope that your question to Judge Roberts, if accurately reported, does not constitute an opening salvo in a process in which the candidate's faith will constitute sufficient justification to deny him a speedy confirmation."

USA Today's Mark Memmott on the slow boil of interest group activity, and why PFA might never spend those $18-21 million. LINK

The Wall Street Journal editorial board is not happy with the White House: "As for the 75,000 pages, Senate staffers and reporters are dissecting them, looking for material to use at the coming confirmation hearings. Writings on civil rights and school prayer are already being mentioned as possible 'trouble' areas, and they will certainly be taken out of their historical context. No thanks to the White House document dump, Judge Roberts's confirmation may now be harder than it should have been."

The Washington Post's Chuck Babington on the tax returns: "On the controversy over tax returns, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Roberts gave his federal returns for the past three years to the White House counsel's office while lawyers there were vetting him. Asked if the returns would be made available to Senate investigators, as they have been for previous high court nominees, McClellan said, 'There just hasn't been a request at this point.'" LINK

"By yesterday evening, Judiciary Committee Democrats stopped short of making such a request. But they expressed surprise with revelations that the Bush administration in 2001 had dropped the practice of routinely collecting and reviewing tax returns for nominees to all federal courts."

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