The Note: Sweat the Big Things

ByABC News
November 15, 2005, 9:27 AM

— -- WASHINGTON, Nov. 14

Last week and this week are a swirling mélange of IraqAlitobudgetDeLayLibbyDemocratshavenomessage

Keep your eyes on what matters for 2006 and 2008, however:

A. The number of U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq on November 1, 2006.

B. The degree to which Republican candidates in 2006 get credit with seniors for the Medicare prescription benefit.

C. Whether there are mass Republican retirements in the House before 2006.

D. Whether Mainers Snowe and Collins continue to (HEART) Judge Alito.

E. Whether Patrick Fitzgerald indicts anyone else (or not).

F. Whether there is a Scooter Libby trial (or not).

G. Whether the White House and congressional Republicans can thread the political needle on spending cuts/deficit reduction versus tax cuts and sacred cows.

H. The extent to which the State of the Union is boffo.

I. The extent to which Democrats come up with new ideas that voters can understand and care about.

J. Whether there is a Democratic position on Iraq by September 25, 2006 (or not).

K. The extent to which the AFL-CIO is still a viable political entity.

L. The likelihood that NRCC topper Tom Reynolds ever pulls an Ed Rollins LINK

and advises House candidates to run away from George Bush (which, in an under-Noted remark, Ken Mehlman endorsed as a strategy last week).

M. What independents will think about President Bush and Republican control of Washington on Election Day, 2006.

Completely aware of The Note's list (since it was practically dictated to us by his senior aides), President -- along with the First lady -- plans to depart the White House at 11:15 am ET for their trip to Alaska and Asia this week.

Air Force One is scheduled to touch down in Anchorage, AK at 6:20 pm ET. The President will make remarks on the war on terror at Elmendorf Air Force Base before taking off again at 8:20 pm ET en route to Osaka, Japan and then on to Kyoto. President and Mrs. Bush will spend the rest of the week in Japan and Korea.

Vice President Cheney meets with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi at the White House today.

Cheney is also scheduled to be the featured speaker this afternoon at NRCC Chairman Rep. Tom Reynolds "summit" in New York City. At 5:00 pm ET in Washington, the Vice President headlines a fundraiser for State Sen. John Campbell (R-CA), who is running to replace Christopher Cox in CA-48. Speaker Hastert, Majority Whip Blunt, and other members of the House Republican leadership are expected at the Campbell fundraiser as well.

At this writing, it is not clear when/if the Alito document dump reported in today's Washington Times will take place or from where it will come. One source says we can expect a few scores of pages from the Reagan Library.

Sen. Clinton (D-NY) and her husband attended a memorial service for Yitzhak Rabin at 8:00 am ET in Jerusalem. She is scheduled to attend the 12:30 pm ET opening of the Yitzhak Rabin Center in Tel Aviv.

The Senate meets at 2 pm ET to resume consideration of S.1042, the FY2006 Defense Appropriations bill. At 5:30 pm ET, the Senate will proceed to a vote final passage of the FY2006 Energy and Water Appropriations bill.

The House meets for a pro forma session at 6:00 pm ET.

If you want to know where the House budget reconciliation bill and the Senate tax cut bill stand, we urge you to check the Hastert, Blunt, Thomas, DeLay, Frist, McConnell, and Grassley call logs from the weekend.

DCCC Chair Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) hosts a conference call early this afternoon to discuss the ways in which the Republican House leadership and Big Oil's profits are connected through "millions and millions in campaign contributions and subsequent tax subsidies."

At 12:15 pm ET, the New America Foundation and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget host a luncheon discussion on specific proposals for closing the fiscal gap and how to offset the federal costs for Katrina, as well as the war, prescription drug programs, tax cuts and other entitlement programs.

Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) delivers an 11:30 am ET keynote address on "Stem Cell Research; The Legislative Landscape" at today's stem cell seminar sponsored by Johns Hopkins University at the Washington Hilton & Towers.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI) discusses "Leadership Challenges in a Shifting Global Economy" at Harvard's Kennedy School in Cambridge, MA.

Gov. Schwarzenegger (R-CA) is in Beijing, China promoting California trade initiatives.

Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller appears on The Kalb Report, to discuss the CIA leak story at the National Press Club at 8:00 pm ET.

Today's must-reads:

1. In one of the major scoops of the day, the Washington Times' Bill Sammon reports that when Alito applied to be deputy assistant to Attorney General Edwin Meese III, the future Supreme Court nominee wrote that "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion." LINK

"'I personally believe very strongly' in this legal position," wrote Alito.

"The document, which is likely to inflame liberals who oppose Judge Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court, is among many that the White House will release today from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library," reports Sammon, though it remains unclear if it is the White House or the National Archives that would release such documents.

2. Bob Novak reports that some conservatives are none too pleased with the "coddling" of Republican moderates by the House leadership last week -- and to no avail. LINK

The final graph: "The Republican Party does not know how to save the budget bill that it cannot afford to lose. A weakened Bush, off to Asia Tuesday, will not be around for one-on-one lobbying. A way out is to pass a budget with neither ANWR nor budget cuts and approve a tax bill without investment tax cuts. The Grand Old Party's mission, apart from a vigorous foreign policy, then would be legislation fitting the special needs of its top business contributors -- a role the moderates could accept."

Alito for Associate Justice:
Meta-responding to the Washington Times story cited above, White House spokesguy Steve Schmidt tells ABC News:

"Judge Alito has served on the federal bench for more than fifteen years and his record shows a clear pattern of modesty, respect for precedent and judicial restraint. Twenty years ago he was among the vast majority of Americans who supported the policies of the Reagan administration . Some outside of the mainstream groups have claimed that service in the Reagan administration should disqualify someone from service as an associate justice of the Supreme Court. That notion was decisively refuted during the Roberts confirmation process. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg had served as general counsel of the ACLU and had advocated liberal political positions including the ideas that the age of consent should be 12, there was a right to prostitution and polygamy in the Constitution and Mother's Day should be abolished. Republicans voted overwhelmingly to confirm her because she was evaluated on her qualifications and more than 12 years of jurisprudence as a federal judge."

Schmidt refused, however, to address the key quote in the Washington Times story.

David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times raises the curtain on the advertising campaign, set to begin later this week, aimed at criticizing Judge Alito's record in areas beyond the abortion issue. (Note Schmidt's pre-buttal before viewing the ads for a hint of what is to come.) LINK

And a sharp-elbowed Republican strategist tells us: "The abortion fight might make liberal activists happy but it is not a winning fight for Democrats. Any of them listen to Tim Kaine's radio ads. What about Bob Casey Jr.??"

While writing in an op-ed for the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal that "guarantees are for used cars, not judicial nominees," Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) reviewed the things Alito has told him that suggest Alito would not overturn Roe v. Wade.

"In evaluating Judge Alito's jurisprudence on this subject, it is significant that he told me he accepts Griswold v. Connecticut, which affirmed the right to privacy as part of the liberty clause. Judge Alito also acknowledged to me the extra precedential weight of Casey and other Supreme Court decisions re-affirming or leaving Roe intact. While he did not adopt the concept of super-precedent or super-duper precedent, he did say there was a 'sliding scale' giving extra weight to the Supreme Court decisions following Roe. The principle of stare decisis has many other ramifications which will be extensively discussed at his hearings. In observing his demeanor and listening to his 'words' the committee will be paying much attention to his 'music.'"

Specter also indicated in the op-ed that if due process had been followed, Harriet Miers "might well have been confirmed."

Timesmen Justice and Pilhofer take a look at the pro-Alito side, with their Progress for America profile, which should remind John Podesta that his team remains far, far behind. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's ed board writes that Alito's opponents are going after him on ethical charges because they know they can't beat him on his credentials or judicial philosophy.

Judge Alito is no Scalia, says USA Today in an editorial, but he is a well-qualified conservative. LINK

The Los Angeles Times reviews Alito's sole jury trial, and finds he was a competent prosecutor – if (not) a bit of a "showboat." LINK

Elisabeth Bumiller uses her New York Times "White House Letter" to look at Harriet Miers' post-nomination life. LINK

Politics of Iraq:
Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus turned in a meta-must read on the front-page of Saturday's Washington Post that is worth quoting from at length: LINK

"President Bush and his national security adviser have answered critics of the Iraq war in recent days with a two-pronged argument: that Congress saw the same intelligence the administration did before the war, and that independent commissions have determined that the administration did not misrepresent the intelligence."

"Neither assertion is wholly accurate."

The White House responded to the Milbank-Pincus piece on Sunday with a "fact sheet" that argued that the PDB the President did not share with the Congress was actually more "problematic" than the NIE given to Congress.

Walter Pincus pulls Sunday show duty for the Washington Post and ledes with Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts saying that one lesson of the faulty prewar intelligence on Iraq is that Senators will take a hard look at intelligence before voting to go to war." LINK

The Washington Post's Fred Hiatt has Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) saying that the Democrats' focus on manipulated intelligence "aren't irrelevant questions" before adding that "the more they dominate the public debate, the harder it is to sustain public support for the war." LINK

Lieberman came in first among Democrats when National Journal asked its pool of Republican "insiders" which member of Congress from the opposite party do they most admire. (Needless to say, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) came in first when Democratic "insiders" were asked the same question).

Much of the amendment on Iraq being offered by Republicans to the Defense Authorization bill is similar to the Democratic version. However, one Senate Democratic aide points out these unique inclusions in the Levin/Biden/Reid amendment:

"The Democratic amendment on Iraq, on which the Senate will vote Tuesday, makes clear three policy statements:"

"1. 2006 should be the year of a significant transition with Iraqi forces helping to create the conditions that will lead to the phased redeployment of U.S. military forces from Iraq."

"2. The Iraqi people must be advised that U.S. military forces will not stay in Iraq indefinitely and that the Iraqis need to take the steps necessary to achieve a broad-based and sustainable political settlement that is essential for defeating the insurgency."

"3. The President shall submit a plan for success with timetables to the Congress and the American people on a quarterly basis specifying the challenges and progress in Iraq and the estimated dates for the phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq."

The Boston Herald reports, a new Bay State petition could put the Iraq war on the ballot for voters, "if approved by voters next November, the initiative would require whoever is elected governor in 2006 to use all legal means available to bring home the Massachusetts National Guard." LINK

Roll Call's Morton Kondracke writes that Bush's pushback comes "none too soon."

Conservative icon William F. Buckley told the Wall Street Journal's Joseph Rago in the newspaper's "Weekend Interview" that the US enterprise in Iraq is "anything but conservative" and that it lacks a "certain submission to reality."

Bush agenda:
Time Magazine's Mike Allen reports that Vice President Cheney has seen "better times" but that "all he cares about is history, not today's headlines."LINK

More "record low approval ratings" beame talk show chatter this weekend, courtesy of Newsweek's latest poll numbers. LINK

Recent Bush Administration setbacks on the international front are no fluke, says the Associated Press, which chalks up the President's decreasing international influence to his low approval ratings at home. LINK

Ben Bernanke, President Bush's nominee to replace Alan Greenspan as Fed Chair, is likely to face some tough questions at tomorrow's Senate confirmation hearing on his advocacy of an inflation target, his views on the budget deficit and tax cuts, and his independence from the President, the Wall Street Journal's Greg Ip reports. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:
"After failing to succeed last Thursday, House Republican leaders will try again this week to amass 218 votes for a $50 billion-plus reconciliation package that has rapidly become the majority's biggest political headache of the year," Roll Call's Ben Pershing reports.

Per the Wall Street Journal's incomparable David Rogers, Congress is tackling spending bills this week that could cut $1.1 billion from Health and Human Services, Education and Labor while boosting the IRS budget and giving Amtrak new incentives.

USA Today reports the intra-GOP feuding over benefits for low-income Americans may be a signal "that Republicans are rethinking their focus on tax cuts" more generally. LINK

The politics of national security:
Dan Bartlett on morning television said of the impasse over the McCain amendment: "I'm confident we are going to be able to find some common ground."

The Wall Street Journal's ed board wrote on Saturday that the American people are "wise enough" to understand that the US can't win the war on terror without good intelligence, and that there won't be good intelligence "without aggressive interrogations."

National Journal reported on Sunday that Sen. Shelby (R-AL) has been cleared of any wrongdoing due to insufficient evidence by the Senate Ethics Committee which was investigating whether or not Shelby leaked classified information to the press. LINK

Reuters reports that Sen. Shelby was "gratified" by the results. LINK

USA Today's ed board takes the Republican congressional leaders to task for investigating who leaked the CIA prison information -- instead of investigating the prisons themselves. LINK

The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reports that fellow Postie Dana Priest, and her newspaper, are being "hit from both sides." LINK

"Some conservatives are furious over her Washington Post story this month disclosing that the CIA has been hiding and interrogating terror suspects at secret prisons in Eastern Europe. And some liberals are angry that The Post agreed to a request by senior U.S. officials not to name the countries involved."

The Fitzgerald investigation:
In Sunday's Los Angeles Times, Warren Vieth and Edwin Chen had "an official from an earlier Republican Administration" saying: "'The problem with Karl is: What did he say to the President? If he misled the President, it means you can't trust his word. If he told the truth to the President, that may be worse,' the former official said, because it would imply that Bush knew about the source of the leak and failed to take action. 'Bush has a problem either way.'"LINK

"Said another former official: 'He's got to get out of there. . . We've got to stop the bleeding.'"

The Wall Street Journal's John D. McKinnon reported in the newspaper's weekend edition that Rove is still at risk of being indicted but that that risk is seen as diminishing with the passage of time. LINK

In Sunday's Washington Post, Leonnig and VandeHei looked at speculation from Libby's critics that he was trying to "mask Cheney's role" and legal culpability by telling the grand jury that he had learned Plame's identity from Tim Russert when his own notes showed that he had learned it from the Vice President. LINK

Note also the quotes from inside the Administration about how solid the Libby indictment seems to them.

The Clintons of Chappaqua:
The joys of having Michael Cooper of the New York Times covering the Clintons (all three of 'em) in the Middle East are many. The unannounced visit to the site of one of last week's bombings in Jordan got a strong endorsement from the manager of the Radisson Hotel, reports Cooper. LINK

Cooper also closes his story with a softball question from an Israeli reporter and Sen. Clinton's sly response.

Reporter: "Will this help your trip to the White House?"

Sen. Clinton: "Oh, I've been there before."

Sen. Clinton's trip to Israel amounts to a combination of "campaign photo ops mixed with nuts-and-bolts policy talk," according to the New York Daily News. LINK

Dean's Democrats:
The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza reported on Saturday that Dean's DNC is losing the fundraising race against the GOP by "nearly 2 to 1, a slow start that is stirring concern among strategists who worry that a cash shortage could hinder the party's competitiveness" in 2006. LINK

Ron Brownstein offers his recipe for success in 2006 for each party in today's Los Angeles Times. For the GOP, the "choice is whether to adapt" to evidence that "the party has tilted its agenda so heavily to the demands of its conservative base that moderates feel alienated." Democrats, on the other hand, have to "overcome their own divisions" to "coalesce behind comprehensive solutions to the problems most concerning the country." LINK

On Sunday, the New York Times' Robin Toner reminded readers about the incumbent reelection rate in the era of well crafted district lines aimed at maintaining a Republican majority in the House. LINK

In the Outlook section of Sunday's Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin wrote that the drawing of safe districts by the party in power -- "often the Republicans, but sometimes the Democrats" -- threatens to "ossify the American political system." LINK

Of 435 House seats, Stu Rothenberg says the number of "truly competitive" seats is only 25; Amy Walter puts the number at 28.

In Roll Call, Rothenberg expects 2006 to be "a very good Democratic year, with the House probably coming into play and Democrats poised to make major gains in the Senate." But he is quick to add that Tuesday's results have nothing to do with that assessment.

Returning to his National Journal roots, Ron Brownstein reports that neither side will know until next November whether Democrats are better off with or without drawing "a sharp contrast on the war." He Notes, however, that from Ohio to Minnesota to Maryland, "it now seems more likely than it did only a few weeks ago that enough Democrats may offer clear alternatives next year to provide an answer."

Time Magazine's Joe Klein favorably reviews DCCC Chair Rahm Emanuel's five ideas: (1) making college as universal in the 21st century as high school was in the 20th, (2) creating a National Institute of Science and Engineering, like the National Institutes of Health, (3) reducing foreign oil by 50% in 10 years, (4) giving uninsured people who work vouchers to buy basic health insurance, and (5) a bipartisan summit on the budget that begins by cleaning up the relationship between legislators and lobbyists. LINK

The New York Times' Hernandez explores the divisions and uncertainty surrounding the 2006 New York Republican ticket after 12 years of Pataki-ruled discipline. LINK

The New York Daily News reports that New York GOP Executive Director Ryan Moses says his state party's vice-chairmen will line up behind Chairman Minarik and support Weld over Golisano. LINK

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman challenged his Democratic counterpart to condemn racist statements against Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, but Howard Dean demanded his own apology and ignored the question, the Washington Times' Audrey Hudson reports. LINK

In a press release, the Maryland GOP Chairman demanded a retratction and apology from Gov. Dean this morning.

The Washington Times piece also Notes Dean's refusal to appear on MTP at the same time as Mehlman.

Bob Novak reminded his weekend readers that the Democratic candidate for Senate in Pennsylvania, Bob Casey, Jr., has yet to state his position on the Alito nomination. LINK

The Hartford Courant explores how President Bush's political woes may impact vulnerable Republican members of Congress in Connecticut. LINK

Time Magazine's Amanda Ripley and Karen Tumulty add to the Huckabee and Warner '08 clip files by including them in a story about "America's 5 Best Governors." LINK

The other three guvs lauded by Time are Gov. Kenny Guinn (R-NV), Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS), and Arizona's Janet Napolitano (D-AZ).

2008: Democrats:
In a possible sign that Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) thinks the way to beat Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) in 2008 is by running to her left, he began an op-ed in Sunday's Washington Post with the words: "I was wrong." LINK

"It was a mistake to vote for this war in 2002. I take responsibility for that mistake. It has been hard to say these words because those who didn't make a mistake -- the men and women of our armed forces and their families -- have performed heroically and paid a dear price."

On Oct. 26, his former running mate, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), called for the withdrawal of 20,000 US troops after the Iraqi elections in December. LINK

On Nov. 2, former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle called for removing 80,000 US troops, including all of the Guard and Reserve forces still active in Iraq, following the December elections. LINK

The potential '08er who has led the way in this area, of course, has been Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI).

For starters, he voted against the use of force in Iraq in 2002. On August 18 of this year, Feingold proposed setting Dec. 31, 2006 as the target date for the withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq.

Feingold spokesman Trevor Miller is now heralding that Tuesday Senate vote mentioned above as a sign that Wisconsin's Senator has succeeded in persuading the Senate to break its "taboo" about discussing benchmarks and timelines for completing the mission in Iraq.

Speaking of Feingold, the former Rhodes Scholar got substantial press attention over the weekend.

The New Republic dubs him "The Hillary Slayer" LINK in this week's cover story, and George F. Will wrote on Sunday that if Feingold can avoid the pull of Democratic interest groups, he may face Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in 2008. LINK

(Although Will took some slaps as well.)

But although TNR's Michael Crowley views Feingold as "the best hope that antiwar liberals have," he doesn't seem to think Feingold will actually be the Democratic nominee in 2008. He sees him as more of an "ulcer-maker."

One Democrat who is not staking ground to Sen. Clinton's left on Iraq is Virginia Gov. Mark Warner.

From CBS' "Face the Nation:"

Bumiller: "But would you have voted for the war?"

Warner: "Well, listen, I'm not going to -- I don't have all the information of what would have happened at that point. I think we ought to focus, again, how we finish the job, not go back and re-fight how we got there in the first place."

The most awkward non-answer of the weekend came on "Fox News Sunday." When Chris Wallace asked Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) for a simple "yes or no" answer as to whether Al Kamen's story about him saying that he's "going" in 2008 was true, viewers were subjected to some tortured squirming. LINK

The Dallas Morning News reports on Sen. Biden's Lone Star State appearance. "He said the American people are starting to 'catch on' that they were at least partially 'snookered and tricked,' though he said that's not the administration's greatest failing." LINK

"'President Bush will be judged harshly for the opportunities he squandered to unite the county and unite the world,' Mr. Biden said in a speech to the Dallas Democratic Forum at the Melrose Hotel."

Over the weekend, the Indianapolis Star wrote up the Steve Bouchard departure from Sen. Bayh's PAC and has a Bayh spokesman calling the split "amicable." LINK

Gen. Wesley Clark spent part of his Friday in Sarasota, Fla., blasting the war and saying American troops need to start coming home soon. LINK

Sen. John Edwards' Washington Post mea culpa on the war is being Noted in North Carolina. LINK

In advance of a Dec. 2 Louisville, KY fundraiser, the family wire reports that Kentucky GOPers are painting Sen. Clinton as a "Northeast liberal" and daring Kentucky Democrats to appear with her. LINK

2008: Republicans:
Per the Boston Globe on Sunday, Gov. Romney (R-MA) will again delay his plans to announce his reelection intentions -- aides say he will now announce in early December. LINK

Per the Richmond Times Dispatch on Sunday, Sen. George Allen (R-VA) will travel over the week of Thanksgiving to China, India, Pakistan, and Taiwan. LINK

While appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) was asked about a home state poll that indicated that people were dead split about the idea of their governor running for president in 2008.

Huckabee responded by saying: "Well, you know, if I read that poll, I'd realize that what they would like for me to do is lay down in the middle of the highway and they'd decide which side of me they'd run over. And I don't blame them."

The always-glib Huckabee provoked a hearty laugh from Gov. Richardson when he said Democrats win when they "talk, sound, and act like Republicans."

New Hampshire:
The Washington Post fronts a story about Granite State property taxes soaring based on scenery. LINK

Doug Forrester, the Republican nominee for Governor in New Jersey who lost last week to his Democratic opponent Jon Corzine, blamed President Bush for his loss in an interview with the Star Ledger published on Sunday. Forrester said the public's growing disaffection with Bush, especially after Hurricane Katrina, made it impossible for his campaign to overcome the built-in advantage Democrats have in a Blue State like New Jersey. "If Bush's numbers were where they were a year ago, or even six months ago, I think we would have won on Tuesday," Forrester said. "Katrina was the tipping point." LINK

President Bush was one of few top-name Republicans not asked to campaign in New Jersey on behalf of Forrester. Forrester also credited Corzine for trying to link him to Bush. "It was not a foolish thing to pound that issue so hard," he said.

The New York Times writes up the Forrester interview for today's edition and includes the RNC's Danny Diaz differing take on the race -- "Local races have always been about local issues," Diaz told the Times. LINK

Dan Bartlett touted the same line on morning television and added this about New Jersey: "It's a Democratic stronghold."

The Schwarzenegger Era:
Fresh off his multiple defeats in the ballot box last week, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing an enormous $50 billion public works program for his state -- a risky move, says the Los Angeles Times, given that it may "cause tension" with conservatives who oppose state borrowing and risks further alienating voters by necessitating a tax increase. LINK

Will California's state government be hamstrung by resentment over last week's failed ballot initiatives? George Skelton, writing in the Los Angeles Times, says he is optimistic Gov. Schwarzenegger and the state's legislature will put last week firmly behind them. LINK

Per the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, the peripatetic Walter Shapiro has been hired by Salon as its new Washington bureau chief. LINK

"Shapiro says he had been doing some blogging, but 'I felt this irresistible urge to make phone calls and go places, and rather than theorize what people are saying, actually find out what they're saying.'"

Kurtz Notes that Andrew Sullivan is moving his daily musings to the Time Inc. Web site, which plans to build a "cyber-neighborhood" around him and other bloggers.LINK

Knight Ridder's board is exploring its "strategic alternatives," including a possible sale of the newspaper company, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The week ahead:
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will take to the podium at the National Press Club in Washington, DC tomorrow morning at 10:00 am ET to hold a news conference to introduce the House Democrats new agenda, "Innovation Agenda: A Commitment to Competitiveness to Keep American #1."

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) delivers remarks on "U.S. Foreign Policy and the Middle East" at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC at noon ET tomorrow.

The Senate Banking Committee holds Federal Reserve Chairman nominee Ben Bernake's confirmation hearings at 10:00 am ET on Tuesday.

Vice President Cheney is scheduled to deliver remarks at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy in Knoxville, TN tomorrow.

At noon ET on Tuesday, United States Chamber of Commerce vice president and political director Bill Miller will talk about the 2006 congressional races, with a focus on the "Get Out The Vote" efforts planned by the USCC.

Paul Begala delivers the keynote address tomorrow to the Alabama Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, Birmingham, AL.

Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) celebrates his 58th birthday on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, a west Texas coalition including Midland College and Texas Tech University present their ideas for the Bush presidential library at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC.

The Federal Election Commission meets on Thursday at 10:00 am ET on advisory opinions for Fired Up! LLC, by counsel Marc Elias and Brian Svoboda, focusing on campaign finance laws in relation to internet blogging.

The RNC's Women's Regional Leadership Conference convenes in Columbus, OH on Thursday and Friday.

Former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) is in India this week. He has some public events in North Carolina next week. He'll be back in Washington, DC in mid-December.

"This Week with George Stephanopoulos" is looking for interns:
If you have a hunger for political journalism, we've got an internship for you.

"This Week with George Stephanopoulos" is looking for interns for the upcoming spring semester.

The show has a small staff, so you'll quickly become fully integrated into the life of the broadcast. You'll have the opportunity to assist with research and other preparation for the production of "This Week." In addition, we frequently send our interns out to cover political events around Washington. And you will also have the chance to write for "The Note," this daily online political briefing which you are reading.

It's a fabulous opportunity. But don't take our word for it – here's what current intern Shea Wynn (a proud Texas Longhorn) has to say:

"Interning at ABC News with 'This Week with George Stephanopoulos' has given me a wealth of opportunities that I wouldn't have found elsewhere. I've gotten to substantively contribute to putting the show together on a weekly basis and cover pertinent news events for our show and the Political Unit. Interning with 'This Week' has also given me the chance to visit the White House, the State Department, observe tapings of Nightline, have lunch with Sam Donaldson, attend seminars with senior members of the ABC News staff on a variety of issues, and experience world-changing news firsthand. I would highly recommend this internship for anyone with an interest in political journalism."

You should know that all interns must be able to receive college credit for the unpaid internship. And we work odd hours, and we expect you will, too. (That means Wednesday-Sunday, including a very early start on Sunday morning.)

To apply for a spring semester internship, please send your cover letter and resume to, with the subject line "INTERN," as soon as possible.