The Note: Taking Stock, Part VI

ByABC News
June 21, 2005, 5:13 PM

— -- WASHINGTON, June 21

With so many fun/interesting/important events in The Note's Political Daybook®, we don't want too much to come before that and distract you.

Still, we do have one quiz/questionnaire to get out of our system.

For each of the following political players, name the thing they would say if giving an honest answer to the question "At which part of your job should you be doing better?," and name the thing they SHOULD say:

1. President Bush?

2. Vice President Cheney?

3. Dr./Chair Dean?

4. Sen./Leader/Dr. Frist?

5. Leader/Sen./Searchlighter Reid?

6. Gov. Romney?

7. Senator Durbin?

8. Secretary Snow?

9. Senator Biden?

10. Ron Bonjean?

Please send your answers to:

As for the prizes (all entries judged on creativity, humor, and accuracy*):

FIRST PRIZE: Four tickets to the studio audience of "Crossfire," plus dinner for four with Paul Begala.

SECOND PRIZE: A copy of Ed Klein's book "lovingly" inscribed by Philippe Reines and Ann Gerhart (in red pencil).

THIRD PRIZE: Dinner at the Wilmington, DE Italian restaurant of your choice with Sen. Biden.

FOURTH PRIZE: A presidentially-issued nickname.**

"For Bush, the showdown now poses a quandary because it comes at a time when Democrats are trying to portray him as a lame duck," writes Deb Orin of the New York Post . LINK

"The risk of a recess appointment is that it could make Bolton look like damaged goods and undermine his effectiveness at the United Nations."

The Washington Post Notes: "Unlike judges, who receive lifetime appointments if confirmed by the Senate, Bolton presumably would leave the United Nations when Bush's term ends in January 2009 if the Senate were to confirm him. A recess appointment would permit him to hold the Post through 2006, when the 109th Congress adjourns." LINK

Social Security:
Bloomberg's Jeff Bliss writes, "U.S. Senate Republicans, faced with solid Democratic opposition to private Social Security accounts, plan to test their adversaries' unity by offering legislation that omits or delays President George W. Bush's plan to fund the accounts from payroll taxes."

More: "The proposals, which will be introduced as early as this week, are designed to entice Democrats to begin negotiating a Social Security overhaul or force them to explain why they won't back measures aimed at strengthening the popular retirement program."

Jonathan Weisman of the Washington Post writes that liberal and labor groups have found a new battlefield on which to go after President Bush's proposals to overhaul Social Security: the House Ways and Means Committee, and efforts to press eight of the Republicans on it to come out against his plan. LINK

Bush agenda:
Jim VandeHei of the Washington Post looks at President Bush's defense of U.S. military strategy and action in Iraq after his summit with European Union leaders at the White House, Noting that Bush "did not answer when asked whether he agreed with Vice President Cheney's assessment that the Iraq insurgency, which has killed more than 100 U.S. soldiers since the beginning of last month, is in its 'last throes.'" LINK

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan argues on the Washington Post op-ed page that progress is being made in Iraq. LINK

"Those who still see the invasion of Iraq as a noble mission don't need to protect the policy from the war's critics. They need to rescue it from its architects," argues the Washington Post 's E.J. Dionne, who writes that Vice President Cheney's optimistic assessment of U.S. efforts against Iraqi insurgents betrays a buying into the administration's portrayal of the war while ignoring the growing public discontent over it and the split indicates a failure to prepare Americans for the tough going, in the view of the Brookings scholar. LINK

The Washington Post 's Glenn Kessler details Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's sharp criticism of Egypt and Saudi Arabia for their lack of democratic practices in a speech the Middle East, Noting that while she went after those two allies of the U.S., which have "virtually no history of representative government," she took special issue with Iran and Syria. LINK

The Chicago Tribune's ultra-talented Mark Silva examines the differences between President Bush's stance on aid to Africa and that of the rest of the G-8 leaders. LINK

The politics of national security:
In what is largely a rehashing of what John Kerry presented on Iraq during the presidential campaign last year, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) (one of Kerry's foreign policy advisers last time around and perhaps an opponent for the nomination the next time around) will go before cameras at the Brookings Institution today at 2:00 pm ET to deliver his assessment of where things stand in Iraq and what he sees as the way forward.

Biden makes use of Vice President Cheney's "last throes" assessment as well as the president's pleasure with the progress being made. The Democratic Senator, unsurprisingly, disagrees.

"The disconnect between the administration's rhetoric and the reality on the ground has opened not just a credibility gap, but a credibility chasm. Standing right in the middle of that chasm are 139,000 American troops -- some on their third rotations," Biden will say according to an early draft of his speech obtained by ABC News.

"This disconnect is fueling cynicism that is undermining one of the most important weapons we can give our troops: the support of the American people. That support is waning."

Biden goes on to say that he wants President Bush to succeed in Iraq and then defines what he sees as that success. "Success is leaving Iraq better than we found it. Not a Jeffersonian democracy, but a unified country with a representative government in which all the major communities have a stake; a country that is not a breeding ground or a haven for terrorists; and a country that is not a threat to us or its neighbors. Period."

Richard Benedetto and Judy Keen look at the latest USA Today /CNN/Gallup poll, which shows Americans don't appear particularly worried about a terrorist attack soon 35 percent say they another attack is likely soon, down from 39 percent in January, and 61 percent say they remain confident in the Bush Administration's ability to protect the country against them. But just 52 percent said they're satisfied with how things are going in the war on terror and they're not all that optimistic about how everything else is going either. President Bush's job approval rating in the survey is 47 percent. LINK

Poll results: LINK

Energy bill:
The Wall Street Journal 's John Fialka gets to the nitty-gritty of Domenici/Bingaman and finds that while energy industry lobbyists don't much like it, they're also confused about what it might or might not do.

"The proposal, scheduled to be debated today in the Senate, would require the Department of Energy to issue emission permits to companies starting in 2010 that are intended to slow growth in the use of fuels that contain carbon and other sources of greenhouse gas emissions, measured against the growth of the economy."

"'We're complaining to anyone who will listen,' said Luke Popovich, a vice president of the National Mining Association, which represents the coal-mining industry. He estimated the measure would require coal producers to spend $450 billion between 2010 and 2025 to buy allowances to cover emissions from burning coal."

Two Bloomberg reporters suggest that Domenici is backing away from D/B and wants more time to consider an emissions cap. But not during this round of legislation: "Domenici's decision may persuade enough Republicans to block the amendment to prevent it from being added to the energy bill the Senate is debating this week."

The economy:
In the Wall Street Journal , Gotham City resident Roger Altman tries to explain the interest rate conundrum and offers three theories.

Guantanamo Bay:
Roll Call 's Mark Preston writes that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is standing by Senator Richard Durbin as Republicans continue to demand an apology for his comments regarding the conduct of U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay.

The Washington Post 's Richard Cohen defends/interprets Senator Durbin's assessment of Gitmo conditions. LINK

"A law firm under scrutiny for its role in arranging overseas trips for members of Congress says House ethics lawyers advised the firm several years ago that it could pay for some Congressional travel, an assertion that may bolster the argument of Representative Tom DeLay that he did nothing wrong in accepting lavish trips organized by the firm's star lobbyist," reports the New York Times ' Phil Shenon with sustained exclusivity and leaked documents galore. LINK

"Internal memorandums and e-mail messages from the Seattle firm, Preston Gates & Ellis, say that the firm contacted two lawyers on the House ethics committee in 1996, when it began organizing large numbers of trips, and was told House rules probably allowed lobbyists to pay for a lawmaker's travel, as long as a client reimbursed the firm."

AP reports that Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) has been served with four subpoenas as the Congressman had a clerk announce on the House floor. Cunningham plans to comply, reports the AP. LINK

The Washington Post 's Mike Allen writes that the comments yesterday on the House floor by Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN) accusing Democrats of "denigrating and demonizing Christians" didn't go over very well with some. LINK

On the House Progressive Caucus agenda, to be announced next week: economic justice and security, civil rights and civil liberties, and global peace and security, reports Roll Call 's Erin Billings.

Drug companies are taking up arms against proposals that would scale back Medicaid spending on prescription drugs, pitting themselves against their usual allies congressional Republicans and governors, writes The Hill's Jeffrey Young in his preview of the hearing tomorrow. LINK

Democrats and Republicans are trying for new legislation to lift the cap on individual campaign donations during an election year. Both parties want to change the fund-raising limits set by the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002. "The [new] bill is a dagger in the heart of campaign finance reform," said Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT). LINK

Judicial confirmation battles:
While Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Mike DeWine (R-OH) have said at home they were acting on behalf of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist during the negotiations over judicial filibusters, Frist's office says not so much, reports The Hill's Alexander Bolton. A perception that Frist blessed their actions would salve some of the anger toward Graham and DeWine from conservatives, Bolton Notes, but the Majority Leader's aides it seems appear to be having none of it. LINK

Bush Administration strategy/personality:
The Washington Post 's Michael Fletcher profiles White House counsel Harriet Miers. LINK

The Clintons of Chappaqua:
Dick Morris appears something approaching concerned in his New York Post column in which he explores Hillary Clinton's recent above-50 percent favorability rating in a Fox poll. LINK

"Hillary's and Bill's surges are largely due to the complicity of leading Republicans in implicitly endorsing her move to the center by appearing with her. President Bush needs to get his father to pull back on his public bobsey-twins identification with Bill and Republicans need to let Gingrich et al know of their displeasure with his newfound best-buddy relationship with Hillary."

"Those who feel that America is not ready to vote for Hillary need to think again. As the prospect of her candidacy nears, her ratings are going up, not down."

Not much new here, despite the hype, writes the Washington Post 's Ann Gerhart of Ed Klein's Hillary Clinton book. LINK

" experts predict it will be a political dud," write the New York Daily News' Bazinet and McAuliff on the Klein book. LINK

Pollster Lee Miringoff tells the Daily News duo that voters think differently of Sen.Clinton than they did of First Lady Clinton.

"A GOP political strategist with close ties to the White House agreed, but said her famously philandering husband could still drag her down if charges in the book that he still strays prove true and if more claims keep coming particularly if she runs for President."

"'People always take a first spouse into account if he or she is at all controversial,' he said. 'I guarantee you, at some point voters will ask themselves, 'Do we want this whole Clinton family circus back in the White House?' That will definitely be a factor.'"

The Hill's Geoff Earle takes a closer look at the mutually beneficial relationship on legislation, even if largely for attention, that some Republicans are finding with Senator Hillary Clinton, Noting that she "has systematically formed partnerships with many of the Senate's most powerful and conservative members on a host of legislation, even as she has helped to craft the Democratic leadership's overall legislative agenda." Among those Republican members: several potential candidates for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, including Sens. Frist, Hagel, Santorum, and Brownback. LINK

But in terms of sponsoring bipartisan legislation, Clinton lags behind Senator John Kerry, writes The Hill's Josh Patashnik. LINK

The politics of health care:
The Washington Post 's Ceci Connolly looks at a new analysis of health care costs that show that rising prices particularly the fact that they're rising faster than wages could force more people to become uninsured. LINK

House of Labor:
Josh Gerstein sums up the kick-off of Sweeney '05, and gets a short interview. LINK

Dean's Democrats:
The Boston Globe reports, DNC chair Howard Dean was in Boston last night for a fundraiser and fired back at Vice President Cheney saying, "I don't care if Dick Cheney likes my mother or not; we are going to fight back I think it's great that Dick Cheney went after me." Dean spoke to 300 Democrats at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and raised $250,000 at the event. Republicans protested outside with signs that read ''Dean Is Mean" ''Dean is Nuts," and ''Say No to Mr. Scream. LINK

The AP adds from last evening that Dean criticized Gov. Romney's flip flopping on issues such as abortion and gay marriage. LINK

The Boston Herald also covered the event quoting Dean commenting on Republican politics, "they say they want small government, but their government is just big enough to fit inside Terri Schiavo's bed in the nursing home." LINK

2008 Republicans:
Mitt Romney writes and op-ed piece in the Boston Herald about his plan for a health care system in Massachusetts where everyone is covered. Romney outlines a plan for complete coverage saying, "everyone has a responsibility to have health insurance; for those who cannot afford it, government will help, but only to the extent needed not as an entitlement." LINK

Top Boston politicians are feeling pressure from Vietnamese American groups to not meet with the prime minister of Vietnam, Phan Van Khai, when he comes to Boston this week. Gov. Mitt Romney has no plans to meet with the prime minister. This is the first time the country's top politician has visited the United States since the Vietnam War. LINK

2008: Democrats:
With only a slight tinge of jealousy, the New York Sun's Josh Gerstein writes that Sen. John Kerry has granted three reporters, Glen Johnson, Michael Kranish and Stephen Braun, unfettered access to his entire Navy file. LINK

Roll Call 's Chris Cillizza assesses the ripples among political pros that Sen. Biden created with his all-but-in comments Sunday about the 2008 presidential race. The question is whether his original splash can translate into long-term connection with voters and more importantly, fundraising his foreign policy and national security credentials notwithstanding.

"Whether Biden can make the leap from $4 million to $40 million is an open question; his lack of a national fundraising base coupled with his roots in Delaware, not a state that can produce millions in donations for a native son, may not bode well."

Note the Lehane List on national security!!!

The AP reports this morning that Gov. Bill Richardson and his staff were pulled over by New Mexico state police for speeding. An Albuquerque police officer in an unmarked cruiser saw an SUV speeding on a local interstate and tried to pull the vehicle over. The officer not realizing who the SUV belonged to called in back up. After a two-minute chase involving three police cars and the police department's airplane the car finally stopped.

When the officer approached the SUV he realized who it was and let them go. "This was a simple misunderstanding," state Department of Public Safety spokesman Peter Olson said Monday.

The Santa Fe New Mexican has all the details for you. LINK

Have we seen the last of a transactional top-down approach from national Democratic leaders in their efforts to keep minority community voters as a part of their base? Will a ground-up operation take its place? Former Kerry adviser Paul Rivera tells the American Prospect's Garance Franke-Ruta the answer to both of those questions must by "yes" in order to ensure Democratic presidential victories in the future. LINK

". . .if the right people are listened to, and if minority-voter contact and messaging are made priorities in the next election cycle and on an ongoing basis, there's no reason the party can't regain its lost ground and fend off the Republican plans to chip away at the Democratic base. 'It's not rocket science,' Rivera told me. 'It's political science,'" writes Franke-Ruta.

The Schwarzenegger Era:
A peaceful-sounding Gov. Schwarzenegger appeared exclusively on Good Morning America this AM, calling his political troubles "the struggle" and vowing to win. He called the Democrats' attempt to shut down his smoke shack "childish." And he said that he would soon -- before the fall, that is -- announce whether he'll run for re-election.

"The parents of a child with cerebral palsy have made the most riveting ad of the mayoral campaign, lauding Mayor Bloomberg for developing a special program that allows their severely handicapped boy to attend public school," writes the New York Post 's David Seifman on the (one-sided) airwaves aesthetic thus far. LINK

It's not quite "Ashley's Story," but sounds pretty compelling nonetheless.

Former Office of Emergency Management director under Mayor Giuliani, Jerry Hauer, endorsed Gifford Miller yesterday. LINK

"A majority of state Republican county leaders told Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro yesterday they want her to challenge Senator Hillary Clinton next year," reports Joe Mahoney of the New York Daily News. LINK

"A letter signed by 46 of the GOP's 62 county chiefs urged Pirro to draw on 'the passion and energy that has made you one of America's top prosecutors' to run against the former First Lady."

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley (D) raised $2 million at a Baltimore fundraiser last night, a record for Maryland politics, according to an aide to his gubernatorial campaign.

O'Malley is on track to raise more than $20 million for the cycle. Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan, who is challenging O'Malley for the Democratic nomination, has scored points with fundraisers by pointing out his higher cash-on-hand totals.

O'Malley's haul will therefore help his campaign raise even more money publicity about money begets more of both and is an important test of his strength about a year and a half from the election.

The Washington Post 's John Wagner has more. LINK

Roll Call 's Paul Kane and Chris Cillizza report that now that she's decided not to run for governor, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) will definitely get in the game for a higher Senate Republican leadership post she's just not telling which one yet.

"Sources in both Hutchison's and Perry's camps insisted that the White House played no role in keeping her out of the race."

"Given the number of Bush allies on the Hutchison campaign team (Bracewell and Giuliani managing partner Pat Oxford being perhaps the most prominent), her advisers said the White House could have sent a message to her if they were so inclined, but did not."

The Houston Chronicle reports democratic contender, Houston City Councilman Gordon Quan has dropped out of the running for Tom DeLay's house seat and has endorsed running mate Nick Lampson. Quan said he wanted to avoid a "costly, divisive and lengthy" Democratic primary. LINK

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, those two Economist editors tell conservatives to cheer the h-e-double-hockey-sticks up. "The biggest advantage of all for conservatives is that they have a lock on the American dream. America is famously an idea more than a geographical expression, and that idea seems to be the province of the right. A recent Pew Research Center Survey, 'Beyond Red vs. Blue,' shows that the Republicans are more optimistic, convinced that the future will be better than the past and that they can determine their own futures. Democrats, on the other hand, have a European belief that 'fate,' or, in modern parlance, social circumstances, determines people's lot in life. (And judging by some recent series in newspapers on the subject, the party appears to have staunch allies in American newsrooms at least.)"

"A researcher retained secretly by the chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, to monitor the "Now" program with Bill Moyers for political objectivity last year, worked for 20 years at a journalism center founded by the American Conservative Union and a conservative columnist, an official at the journalism center said on Monday," the New York Times ' Stephen Labaton reports. LINK

President and CEO of PBS Pat Mitchell offers her defense in a Baltimore Sun op-ed. LINK

Paul Farhi of the Washington Post looks at the ads running on PBS and NPR and the rally today featuring Clifford the Big Red Dog lobbying against more than $100 million proposed cuts in federal funding to public broadcasting. LINK

The New York Times writes up a thin-slice study of familiar political faces and concludes that "Even though voters often cite competence as a political candidate's most desirable quality, their decisions about which candidates are competent and which are not can rest on as little as a quick glance at a photograph, researchers are reporting." LINK

Or is it in the genes? LINK

"A team of political scientists is arguing that people's gut-level reaction to issues like the death penalty, taxes and abortion is strongly influenced by genetic inheritance. The new research builds on a series of studies that indicate that people's general approach to social issues more conservative or more progressive is influenced by genes."

"After correcting for the tendency of politically like-minded men and women to marry each other, the researchers also found that the twins' self-identification as Republican or Democrat was far more dependent on environmental factors like upbringing and life experience than was their social orientation, which the researchers call ideology. Inheritance accounted for 14 percent of the difference in party, the researchers found."

"The implications of this difference may be far-reaching, the authors argue. For years, political scientists tried in vain to learn how family dynamics like closeness between parents and children or the importance of politics in a household influenced political ideology. But the study suggests that an inherited social orientation may overwhelm the more subtle effects of family dynamics."

"A mismatch between an inherited social orientation and a given party may also explain why some people defect from a party. Many people who are genetically conservative may be brought up as Democrats, and some who are genetically more progressive may be raised as Republicans, the researchers say."

As we always say: blah, blah, blah, blah.