Morning Political Note: Jan. 28

A popular, war-time president heading into his first State of the Union surely would expect better from Time magazine than a shadowy, diminishing picture of the White House with the header, "The Enron Mess: How Sticky Will It Get?"

Time is one of the few news organizations to make its own run at the Karl Rove/Ralph Reed story (or, at least, to publish the fruits of its individual reporting). But, despite giving each man his own sidebar (like a taco bar, just not as good), and mentioning it in the main story, they don't really move things along. Time makes several references to how people who know about campaigns are buzzing about what they think the facts are in this case, but this account doesn't change much about the New York Times had last Friday, and in fact doesn't even get as far, without the killer blind quotes on which the original story was hung.

The story does say, regarding Rove and his Enron stock, "the shares he owned were bought out of his own pocket," an oblique reference to what we suspect is viewed as an urban myth within the White House.

Highlights: "No wonder nervous Bush aides reached out last week to at least one prominent Republican who had been critical of the administration and asked him to tone it down … For reasons no one can explain, it went through with its plans to make one of Enron's former lobbyists, former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot, the new Republican National Committee boss (ABC editorial note: no one has really pinned down that we have seen exactly what Racicot did for Enron.)."

And who thinks that the person who uttered this was engaged in wishful thinking? "A senior (administration) official predicted to Time that voters who care about Enron and its White House ties will lose interest after the next big bombing raid."

The New York Times profiles Republican committee chair and Enron prober James Greenwood, complete with the fact that he let NBC into his home at 5 a.m. on Saturday for an interview. ( http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/28/business/28GREE.html )

Democrats seem to view the two biggest areas of "vulnerability" now, beyond the energy task force records fight, as the alleged influence that Lay had over FERC and other appointments, and the India power plant. Congressman Waxman's Friday letter, per DeVogue, upped the ante on the second area because it tells the story with a timeline, showing Rove's and Cheney's calls were more "timely" than had been thought.

Per the New York Times , House Majority Whip Tom DeLay at Camp David this weekend found Ken Lay's Clinton-era signature in the guest book, and the former president's spokesperson couldn't confirm or deny he stayed there then. ( http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/28/national/28LETT.html )

Bob Novak says the replacement at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission of Hebert by Wood (read: of Lott's guy by Lay's guy) had less to do with Enron's influence than with Texas cronyism (leading to anti-free market decisions). ( http://www.suntimes.com/output/novak/cst-edt-novak28.html )

Janet Hook looks at what Enron has done to Congress' legislative agenda. ( http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-000006975jan27.story?coll=la%2Dheadlines%2Dnation

Enron Media

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