The Note: Provocative Behavior

ByABC News
July 6, 2006, 9:01 AM

— -- WASHINGTON, July 5

In July and August, only a journalistic fool would resist diving into a big geopolitical story when it rears its head, even one with no super-obvious connection to the 2006 and 2008 elections.

However, it would take a bigger fool to try to offer network-level analysis of WIAMs regarding North Korea's provocative missile tests.

As Norm Ornstein, Charlie Cook, Stu Rothenberg, Chuck Todd, Rich Galen, Scott Reed, Steve Elmendorf, Donna Brazile, and Jeff Zeleny all know, WIAMs stands for "what it all means" (and, at the Palm, is pronounced "WHY-AMMS").

We have no answers, only questions (and guesses):

1. How long will the North Korea story dominate the news? (Our guess: all of the shortened week, but not beyond next Monday, unless more big stuff happens beyond the gabbing).

2. For 2006, is this more likely to race through voters' minds in a way that makes this a national security election (favoring the hawkish party of the commander in chief) or a competence/change election (favoring the party of the Lioness from San Francisco)? (Our guess: Daddy trumps Mommy.)

3. Will David Sanger have to leave Vermont, and, if so, will he go to DC or to The Region? (Our guess: he's already left the Green Mountain State and it will be DC for now.)

4. Which list is longer -- the names of the national television shows which Bill Richardson has turned down for interviews in 2006 or the names of the people who had to sign off pre-publication on the text of the James Carville/Mark Penn Washington Post Outlook piece that argued that Hillary Clinton can indeed be elected president? (Our guess: the latter, and get yourself some remedial help if you don't know what those two choices have to do with North Korea.)

5. Would cable bookers rather have Bill Perry or Ash Carter on their shows? (Our guess: a tie.)

6. What does this do to immigration and the rest of the Republican legislative agenda? (Our guess: ask the WIAMs experts.)

7. Will Jon Stewart come in off vacation, like so many "real" journalists, because of his already-demonstrated love of Taepodong jokes? (Our guess: so not.)

8. Will this impact fundraising or advertising for 2006? (Our guess: only time will tell.)

9. Will this give the normally quiet Sen. Biden something to talk about during his fifteen (15!!!) August days in Iowa? (Our guess: so.)

10. What will the smart set be watching while others focus on the United Nations and Tokyo? (Our guess: Iran, Iraq, and the World Cup.)

Remember the long-ago days when the American president and Japanese prime minister could fool around in Graceland singing Elvis tunes? Oh, right . . . that day was Friday. Well, the two leaders now have a far weightier topic atop their respective agendas today.

President Bush spends the last full day of his 60th year with only one public event on his schedule as of this writing. He meets with the President of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili, in the Oval Office at 1:15 pm ET and will perhaps share some of his thoughts on North Korea's missile tests with the White House press pool when it is ushered in at the bottom of the meeting.

As always: watch demeanor as much as the words. And free advice to the pool: mobile phones off and don't interrupt the POTUS.

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow gaggles off camera at 9:30 am ET and briefs on camera at 12:15 pm ET.

The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to meet, at the request of the Japanese and Ambassador Bolton, at the UN at 10:00 am ET to discuss North Korea.

Potential Democratic 2008 presidential hopefuls Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) and Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) both appeared on morning network television which got them some AP pickup describing the North Korean regime as somewhat unpredictable. LINK

The Pentagon has confirmed that North Korea test-launched a seventh missile this morning. According to the Pentagon, the missile was a scud "type" missile. The Associated Press reports the seventh was a medium-range missile that landed in the Sea of Japan. Prior to the launch of the seventh missile, North Korea defended its right to conduct missile tests, calling it a matter of national sovereignty. "We continue on our revolution in our own way, according to our conviction in this complicated and conflicting situation, as we have such invincible and revolutionary military power, even for the imperialist United States," its communist party newspaper said in a commentary.

The House/Senate immigration divide will be on display today, amid talk of compromise and triggers. First up is Chairman Arlen Specter's (R-PA) Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on comprehensive immigration reform including a temporary guest worker program at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA at 10:00 am ET. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) is expected to participate. Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R-NYC) is scheduled to be the lead-off witness. Sens. Specter and Kennedy plan to hold a media availability prior to the hearing at 9:30 am ET. After the hearing, Sen. Kennedy and Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) hold a conference call on today's hearings at 12:15 pm ET.

On the left coast, a House International Relations subcommittee chaired by Rep. Edward Royce (R-CA) holds a field hearing on "border vulnerabilities and international terrorism" at noon ET at the Imperial Beach Border Patrol Station in San Diego, CA. The second part of the Royce hearings will take place on Friday in Laredo, TX.

First Lady Laura Bush participates in a roundtable discussion with members of the United States-Afghan Women's Council at the Department of State at 11:00 am ET. (Mrs. Bush is expected to attend a closed press briefing on the Basra Children's Hospital at the State Department at 10:20 am ET.)

Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) was scheduled to address the New Jersey legislature at 9:00 am ET as casinos, parks, and beaches across the state close due to the ongoing government shutdown. The governor's proposed 1% sales tax hike is at the heart of his budget battle with the legislature. More from the AP: LINK

Gov. Mitt Romney accepts an award from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESRG) in recognition of the commonwealth's support for state employees who are enlisted in the National Guard and Reserve at 10:00 am ET in Boston, MA.

Bill Clinton speaks at a fundraiser for congressional candidate Baron Hill (D-IN) in Indianapolis, IN.

The abbreviated week ahead:
In addition to President Bush's big boomer birthday tomorrow, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Ned Lamont participate in their first Democratic primary debate tomorrow night at 7:00 pm ET on WVIT-TV in West Hartford, CT. The debate is scheduled to last 60 minutes and viewer submitted questions are expected to be part of the program.

President Bush is scheduled to hold a joint press availability with the Prime Minister of Canada tomorrow morning. President and Mrs. Bush are also scheduled to tape an interview with CNN's Larry King to air Thursday night on CNN at 9:00 pm ET. The President is scheduled to spend his birthday night in Chicago, IL in advance of his Friday morning appearance at a fundraiser for gubernatorial candidate Judy Baar Topinka (R-IL).

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) are both expected to hit the trail in Iowa this week.

Gov. Mitt Romney and Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) attend an Arkansas Republican Party fundraiser in Little Rock, AR tomorrow.

North Korea:
David Sanger and Norimitsu Onishi of the New York Times report on the White House reaction over North Korea's missile tests yesterday, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley pointed to the somewhat unimpressive "capabilities." LINK

"The most important diplomacy is not in New York, it's in Beijing," said Council on Foreign Relations president Richard Haass on NBC's "Today" show this morning.

Washington Post: "North Korea Tests Long-Range Missile" LINK

Los Angeles Times: "In Defiance, North Korea Fires Missiles" LINK

Wall Street Journal: "North Korea Launched a seventh missile, South Korean and Japanese officials said, following an earlier test-fire of six ballistic missiles, in a significant escalation of North Korea's confrontation with the U.S. over its weapons programs." LINK

Politics of immigration:
The New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg has Republicans inside and outside the White House saying that the President is warming to the idea of an enforcement-first approach to immigration reform. Be sure to Note the sticking point on the path to citizenship and Tom Cole's prediction for post-November 7 work on the issue. LINK

Less prominently displayed, but, in many ways a better take on the same storyline: Michael Barone looks at the Cannon victory in UT-03, Specter's comments to the Washington Times on June 27 about possibly being amenable to a border security enforcement-first approach, and the Pence meeting with President Bush and Vice President Cheney in the Oval Office as indicators that the death of immigration reform legislation may have been greatly exaggerated. LINK

The DNC plans to unveil a new Spanish-language radio ad campaign today that calls on Republicans in Washington to "stop scapegoating immigrants for political gain and join Congressional Democrats in fighting for comprehensive immigration reform," DNC press secretary Satcie Paxton tells The Note.

In the radio ad entitled "Border Security," Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) calls on Republicans to stop "blocking Democratic efforts to improve America's border security and join Democrats in working to keep America safe by securing our borders and passing comprehensive immigration reform."

The new ad will air in targeted markets in Texas, California, and other markets in which Republicans are organizing immigration field hearings.

Democrats plan to push their message that "despite controlling the White House and Congress, Republicans fail to have a single immigration accomplishment," as one top Democratic House aide put it to The Note this morning.

The Hill on today's House field hearing: LINK

The Houston Chronicle's Lori Rodriguez reports that a recently-launched bilingual website -- Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together, or -- seeks to encourage calm discussions about immigration through an expensive ad campaign led by advertising guru Lionel Sosa. LINK

Bush's big boomer birthday:
A White House official tells ABC News' Jessica Yellin that "the President, wearing a red and white short-sleeved Hawaiian shirt and casual slacks, celebrated his 60th birthday in an East Room dinner filled with friends, family, and staff. The dinner included fried chicken, Cajun shrimp, biscuits, salads, and a three-tier chocolate cake, covered with numerous decorations (including a replica White House), and topped with the number 60. There were several toasts, and the President received gifts from staff and family. The President and his guests watched fireworks from the Truman balcony."

The Washington Post's Peter Baker contrasts President Bush's "off-camera" 60th birthday with President Clinton's "star-filled" 50th." LINK


The economy:
"Neither resurgent inflation nor a housing slowdown is likely to throw the economy completely off track, but they will make life a lot tougher for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, economists said in a new survey," reports the Wall Street Journal's Mark Whitehouse.

According to the survey, economists expect real GDP growth "to ease to an annualized 2.9% in the second half as inflation accelerates."

"Every governor and every senator wakes up each morning and hums 'Hail to the Chief' while getting ready for work," says GOP consultant Rich Galen to the AP's Lester, Noting the ever-expanding list of potential '08ers on both sides of the partisan divide. LINK

There are five 2008 stories from the long holiday weekend we wanted to make sure you didn't miss.

1 and 2: The Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll on how voters respond to the idea of a Mormon presidential candidate: LINK and LINK

(Wethinks the fact that the question is being asked is probably more indicative than the results!)

3. Adam Nagourney and Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times on the 43/"Johnny Mac" mutually beneficial relationship: LINK

(Don't miss that nugget about Nicolle Wallace's potential future plans.)

4. James Carville and Mark Penn (not an unbiased nor dispassionate pair) wrote a Washington Post op-ed pushing back against all that un-electable chatter about Sen. Clinton's potential presidential candidacy among the Chattering Class and point to her strength and gender as often-missed selling points. LINK

(To some, a lot of Clinton presidential campaign work has been getting done lately. Sen. Clinton said she will back whoever the Democratic nominee is from Connecticut in 2006, even if it isn't long time friend Joe Lieberman. LINK)

5. Legendary Mike Glover on John Kerry's attempt to defy history is, of course, a must-read: LINK

2008: Republicans:
"Conservative activist Grover Norquist says a Senate report connecting him with convicted felon Jack Abramoff is a personal attack from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that could hurt the senator's recent efforts to woo the right for a presidential bid," writes The Hill's Sheffield. LINK

The Boston Globe's editorial advises Gov. Romney to trim the state budget by $200-$300 million in order to stock up for the next recession and warns that the governor's veto message will give the Democrats one last chance to change local aid packages. LINK

The New York Post's Page Six reports that at a swanky Southampton dinner party Rudy Giuliani admitted to a run in 2008 if he can raise enough dough. LINK

2008: Democrats:
Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) gets a wet kiss from the Wall Street Journal's ed board in a piece that urges Democrats in Congress to acquaint themselves with the Democrats outside of Washington who are "embracing tax cuts, and even supply-side logic."

"Another Democratic Governor who's embraced tax cutting and benefited politically is New Mexico's Bill Richardson. Since winning the state house in 2002, he has cut the state's top income tax rate to 4.9% from 8.2% and cut the capital gains tax in half. 'This was our way of declaring to the world that New Mexico is open for business,' Mr. Richardson tells us. 'After all, businesses move to states where taxes are falling, not rising.'"

"But don't tax cuts produce budget deficits? Not in New Mexico, which now has a half-billion-dollar surplus and has seen tax revenues soar by 27% this year, faster than in any other state over the past year, according to the Rockefeller Institute state revenue report."

"We asked Mr. Richardson how he thought his party could regain its competitiveness with the GOP on the national level. His answer is good advice for Democrats everywhere: 'We have to be the party of growth and the American dream, not the party of redistribution.'"

Making his fifth trip to Iowa in the last year, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) campaigns for Quad-City region Democrats this Friday after his trips this week to Illinois and Minnesota, writes the Quad-City Times. LINK

Sen. Joe Biden's chief of staff tells Tom Beaumont at the Des Moines Register that his boss will be in the Hawkeye State for 15 of August's 31 days!!! LINK

The Union Leader's Sarah Shemkus Notes Biden's appearance yesterday in Amherst, New Hampshire's July 4th parade. LINK

In a story that Notes Sen. Kerry's recent declaration of energy independence as well as President Bush's call to promote energy independence, the Wall Street Journal's John Fialka has a series of experts saying that energy independence "may be among the least realistic political slogans in American history." The article closes with Sen. Biden defending the long-term goal of energy independence, adding that regulations to increase the fuel efficiency of the US vehicle fleet would generate the quickest economic payoff.

Big Casino budget politics:
Per The Hill, a recent Senate provision that would force the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to be paid for out of the regular Pentagon budget rather than the budget for unforeseen emergencies has garnered much support among House defense authorizers and appropriators and will likely become a critical debate issue in 2007. LINK

GOP agenda:
The Boston Globe's Susan Milligan Notes that House Republicans, unable to advance the issue of taxes, plan to take up their "American Values Agenda" package on July 10. Milligan attributes GOP's disagreement over tax cuts, which was once a "signature campaign issue," to the country's deficit and the increasing split between conservative and moderate Republicans. LINK

Democratic agenda:
The "New Direction for America" plan recently proposed by Democrats does not appear to have been well-circulated among the rank and file, reports Josephine Hearn of The Hill. LINK

2006: landscape:
Your must-read 2006 story of the day comes courtesy of the Chicago Tribune's TV-friendly and aforementioned Jeff Zeleny.

"Four months before the midterm congressional elections, Democrats are mired in a ferocious battle for control of the House and Senate . . . Among themselves," reads the Zeleny lede. He also Notes that Washington, DC "fingers of blame are wagging largely" at DNC Chair Howard Dean. LINK

Zeleny recaps the Dean/Emanuel/Schumer feud over the 50-state strategy vs. the 2006 opportunities and has Dean declaring the DNC will invest in 10 Senate races and 38 to 40 House races.

The Los Angeles Times' Janet Hook pays homage to the chutzpah of the DSCC's Chuck Schumer and the DCCC's Rahm Emanuel. LINK

In order to pick up seats in both the House and the Senate, Democrats will have to appeal to their usual allies in the labor and environmental communities who have already endorsed seven House GOP incumbents as well as three Senate Republicans. The Hill's Alexander Bolton has the story. LINK

The Hill's Jonathan Kaplan reports that four left-wing bloggers have developed a strategy to garner financial support through the Internet to Democratic challengers in need of aid in their campaigns, endorsing 16 candidates who have little chance of winning their election races in November. LINK

Sen. Lieberman's primary politics:
The Wall Street Journal's ed board writes that "if Democrats drive Mr. Lieberman from their ranks, they will be sending Americans a message that George Soros and dominate their party."

Along the July 4 parade route in the Nutmeg State, the New York Times gathered reaction to Lieberman's announcement about a potential independent candidacy in November. LINK

The Hill's Jonathan Kaplan reports that Sen. Lieberman's potential independent run in November might make the races of three House Democratic challengers against Republican incumbents more difficult. LINK

2006: Senate:
The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Thomas Suddes opines that the strength of Rep. Sherrod Brown's (D-OH) effort to unseat Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) will depend on Brown's ability to turn out the vote in the Cleveland area and to emphasize the state's dismal economic conditions. Still, he faces a decidedly uphill battle, as Sen. DeWine has historically done well even in the most Democratic-leaning areas of Ohio. LINK

2006: ballot measures:
Per the Boston Globe's Jeffrey Krasner, "Healthcare advocates will decide today whether to put a question on November's ballot asking citizens if they support an even broader and more radical healthcare reform effort than the one underway" in Massachusetts. LINK

The Washington Post's ed board writes that evidence that Speaker Hastert was "taking care of himself" with the transportation earmark that included an interchange just 5.5 miles from property he owns is "rather thin" but the newspaper would still like to see Congress crack down on "earmarking gone wild." LINK

Redistricting politics:
Based on the doubts of Rep. David Price (D-NC) (who has "written several books about Congress," you know), the Washington Post's Charles Babington writes that Democrats are not eager to emulate Texas's redistricting, despite the Supreme Court's stamp of approval. LINK

On the Republican side, Babington has Tim Storey, a redistricting expert for the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures, saying that GOPers appear to have "maximized their opportunities in the biggest targets, including Texas, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina."

The Washington Post's ed board writes that last week's Texas redistricting decision makes clear "once and for all that the remedy for this country's redistricting mess is not going to come from the judiciary." LINK