Morning Political Note: Jan. 28

Mr. Brownstein in the Los Angeles Times today makes the case that 43 handled America's response to September 11 better than 42 would have, while concluding that 43 might do well to listen to the ideas of 42 now. "The issue isn't whether Clinton would have used force to retaliate for the attacks. He demonstrated in Bosnia and Kosovo (over enormous Republican resistance) that he was willing to use military power to advance U.S. goals. And no president would have accepted the outrage of Sept. 11 without delivering a powerful blow in response. But it's likely that Clinton would have felt a need to balance force with gestures to reach out to the Muslim and Arab world. Those ideas have a time and place. But this isn't it." (

The Washington Post runs the second part of their eight-part Balz/Woodward "George and Dick (and Condi and Rummy, etc.): The Early War Years," with more of their incredible access (an interview with the president, access to NSC documents, the the president's heretofore unrevealed diary). ( )

The New York Times ' Elizabeth Bumiller continues her role as hostess/analyst with the mostest, with another stylistically strong Monday White House letter with these details, built around a listing of the president's busy social schedule last week: "'The president does everything fast, including eating dinner,' said Ari Fleischer. 'He's not a lingerer.'" Another source said the president will "'eat your dessert, too, if you let him.'" ( )

And this from Camp David with the congressional leaders, "Mr. Bush asked the members if anyone would like to run with him. The president, who is now averaging a 6:50 mile during his three-mile runs through the Camp David woods, got no takers. 'Everybody started looking at their feet,' Mr. Fleischer said."

E.J. Dionne in Sunday's Washington Post Outlook section had an excellent piece on the president's long-term project of trying to unite his party's economic and cultural conservatives. He ends the piece with this "His project is not simply to get reelected, but to remake American conservatism," but he might have added this: "and to remake America." ( )

Ever since Wall Street Journal columnist Robert Bartley visited then-Governor Bush in Austin in December of 1999, he has been a big fan of the guy. Today's column continues the lovefest, with ample praise for all the president's best traits, a shot at the media-elite CW, and a plea for the president to push hard on more and faster tax cuts and Social Security reform (the latter of which Bartley is resigned to seeing passed only in the president's second term!).

Cindy Adams, who writes one of the best four gossip columns in the New York Post, has some theory we can't quite understand about Dick Cheney's future, and quotes Mrs. Clinton as saying she isn't moving from the Chappaqua house. ( )

Rep. Rob Portman, an administration point person in the House but perhaps better known as the guy who's constantly trying to shake off questions about his possibly replacing Andy Card, is starting a PAC. ( )

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