Political News Summary: Feb. 11

Our twin leads from Thursday — campaign finance reform and the budget — carry on into today, but absent President Bush, who will be occupied with other matters, and possibly distracted by humming TVs all over Beltwayville showing the Enron hearings.

Click here, and we'll let you know when The Note is ready each day.

News Summary

Don't be fooled by what for now seems like a typical slow-starting Monday in Washington.

By the end of the week, we expect to have run the gamut from: a) a flirtation with Armageddon, with the House vote on campaign finance reform currently expected for Wednesday; b) the human face of the new impetus for the CFR vote, Ken Lay, taking the 5th; c) President Bush's decision on whether or not to dump nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain; d) Bush's meeting with the president of Pakistan; e) former Vice President Gore's first major policy speech since the 2000 election, focusing on foreign stuff, in New York City; f) the current Vice President's major foreign policy address to the same audience three days after Gore's; and g) the knighting of Rudy Giuliani; to z) the first quasi cattle call of the 2004 presidential election, with a handful of Democratic Senators pondering their national futures expected to address the California state party convention in Los Angeles over the weekend.

And if that isn't enough for you, there are the undercurrents: the Democratic party's frustrated-to-panicked struggle to gain traction against the president's wartime popularity, which is now officially and undeniably rubbing off on the president's party; and Democrats' related efforts to strike the right tone and message on the budget.

While Bush is running deficits, the Washington Post notes that "Democrats have thus far avoided the issue of how they would pay for their domestic initiatives while funding both the war on terrorism and Bush's tax cuts, the largest of which will not take effect for years. Republican claims to the contrary, neither Daschle nor Gephardt have called for repealing the cuts," but neither have they proposed a way to deal with the budget in a global way. ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A55320-2002Feb10.html )

Roll Call looks at White House and GOP efforts to capitalize on the president's approval ratings to pressure moderate Democratic Senators up for re-election in 2002. ( http://www.rollcall.com/pages/news/00/2002/02/news0211g.html )

Meanwhile, in the most blatant example yet of the president and his party trying to leverage his wartime popularity for political gain, Bush has allowed his image to be used in GOP TV and radio ads against a handful of Democratic Senators up for re-election in 2002, accusing them (in varying language) of "not doing their jobs" because they didn't support the president's version of the economic stimulus package.

The TV spots are running in Montana, Missouri and South Dakota; radio ads are running in Iowa, Missouri and Minnesota.

These ads got little notice because they were launched late last week amidst the Enron/Shays-Meehan frenzy. Democrats don't plan to let the spots go uncountered; expect response ads to go on the air in many of these states this week. And stay tuned for a year of accusations flying back and forth about politicizing the war.

Today, the Campaigner-in-Chief heads to the battleground state of Wisconsin to raise money for Gov. Scott McCallum, while First Lady Laura Bush appears on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes that the president's popularity makes his visit doubly sweet for Governor McCallum, who inherited the job from HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and is now running in his own right. ( http://www.jsonline.com/news/metro/feb02/19233.asp )

While the president jets off to Milwaukee, the White House will have to spend more time contending with this new Enron bump, courtesy of the Los Angeles Times: "While the Bush administration was drafting its national energy policy, a leading lobbyist for Enron Corp." and Bush 2000 campaign communications strategist "was plotting strategy to turn the plan into a political weapon against Democrats, according to" a memo "newly obtained" by the Times . ( http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-000010595feb11.story )?coll=la%2Dheadlines )%2Dpolitics )

"Edward Gillespie, who parlayed his close ties to the Bush White House into a lucrative contract representing the energy giant, warned that the administration faced 'a classic liberal-conservative … dynamic,' which cast Republicans as the party of big business and enemies of the environment."

"'Instead of picking the fight that has been picked for us, we should pick a new fight,' said the confidential April 2001 memo, presented to energy companies and industry groups. The memo suggested the industry 'change the dynamic by "Carterizing" the Democrats'--an allusion to the dour ex-president."

"Gillespie said he never shared his memo with the White House, and his thoughts on political strategy, offered in informal conversations with administration officials, were never taken. But within weeks, Gillespie's recommendations surfaced in advertising promoting Bush's energy plan. One newspaper ad read, 'Remember the 70s? Gas lines were long, rationing was in, Jimmy Carter was president and he told us to wear a sweater.'"

The papers over the weekend and today have given full treatment to the White House's relative silence on campaign finance reform, noting how Enron has upped the pressure on Bush not to visibly oppose Shays-Meehan. And one Republican suggests to Roll Call today that Bush's view is that it's congressional GOPers' fight — not his.

But USA Today offers another incentive for Bush to keep quiet. "The biggest beneficiary of a campaign-finance overhaul bill slated for House action this week might be the man who decides whether to sign it into law: President Bush. The legislation would double to $4,000 the maximum an individual can donate to a candidate: $2,000 for a primary and another $2,000 for the general election. The president 'easily will raise a quarter of a billion dollars' for the primary elections in 2004, says Jan Baran, an election lawyer who represents Republicans. The change also might prompt Bush to become the first major-party candidate to opt out of the public-financing system in a general election since it was created in 1976, election experts say." ( http://www.usatoday.com/news/washdc/2002/02/11/usat-bush.htm )

Roll Call looks at the question of who will be hurt worse if Shays-Meehan does pass and get signed into law. "Gephardt set the stakes for Democrats at a Whip meeting Thursday morning, telling Members that the party's future looked grim without steps to limit the GOP's fundraising potential under President Bush." ( http://www.rollcall.com/pages/news/00/2002/02/news0211a.html )

"A senior Republican lawmaker, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Hastert received no assurances from Bush that the White House will try to block passage of the Shays-Meehan bill … 'I don't think the president is going to get involved,' said the lawmaker. 'Bush doesn't want any piece of this. He doesn't see it as his fight, he sees it as our fight.'"

The story notes that McCain, "who planned to return to Washington Sunday night to prepare for the upcoming debate — is also featured prominently in television ads that will begin airing across the country today in the districts of nine Republican lawmakers who reformers believe could be critical to the debate's outcome. The ads, which will air on cable television networks, also feature Feingold, Meehan and Shays talking about the need for reform of the campaign finance system."

"GOP lawmakers targeted by the ads are Reps. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Elton Gallegly (Calif.), Sue Kelly (N.Y.), Frank LoBiondo (N.J.), John McHugh (N.Y.), Doug Ose (Calif.), Jack Quinn (N.Y.), Jim Saxton (N.J.) and James Walsh (N.Y.)."

"Most of the nine voted for earlier versions of the Shays-Meehan bill but were still undecided going into this week's debate … Campaign for America, the pro-reform group founded by former Wall Street financier Jerome Kohlberg, which is financing the television ads, is also bankrolling phone-bank operations in 30 districts across the nation, including the nine targeted by the television ads."

Also today, Sens. Hillary Clinton and Joseph Lieberman will hold field hearing on the air quality at Ground Zero. The AP picks up on a St. Louis Post-Dispatch report that "Workers near ground zero and residents of the area never heard about a government report that said the dust from the fallen World Trade Center was as harmful as liquid drain cleaner. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports today that the US Geological Survey gave its report to the [EPA]. But the paper says the E-P-A never got the news to the people who needed to hear it."

Former Attorney General and Florida gubernatorial candidate Janet Reno is expected to speak at Justice Department memorial service today for Tony Sutin, the former Justice Department official who was killed in the recent shooting at the Appalachian School of Law, where Sutin served as Dean.

On Tuesday, the subpoenaed Ken Lay is planning to take the 5th before the Senate Commerce Committee, while several former SEC chairmen testify before the Senate Banking Committee on Enron and investor issues.

Former Vice President Gore will give a major foreign policy address at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City, which is open to cameras. New York also will hold some special state legislative and local elections that day, including a state Senate seat in Manhattan that has drawn statewide and Rudy and Hillary attention.

And, First Lady Laura Bush will keynote a breakfast meeting of Town Hall Los Angeles, while Second Lady Lynne Cheney visits City Springs Elementary School in Baltimore.

On Wednesday, President Bush will meet with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Over in London, Rudy Giuliani will be knighted by Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace. California's three Republican gubernatorial candidates will debate in San Jose. And John Walker Lindh will have his arraignment hearing in US District Court in Alexandria, VA.

On Thursday, former Fed chief turned leading Andersen overseer Paul Volcker will testify before the Senate Banking Committee.

And on Friday, President Bush will meet with Uruguayan President Jorge Batlle. Vice President Cheney will address the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Friday also kicks off the California Democratic Party convention in Los Angeles; Senators Daschle, Edwards and Kerry are expected to attend.

From the ABCNEWS London Bureau: Tens of thousands of Iranians, carrying anti-US placards and effigies of Uncle Sam, marched to Tehran's Freedom Square to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran. … .During a speech to thousands of people gathered at the square, President Mohammad Khatami appeared to blame US foreign policy for the September 11 attacks … Pakistani police said on Monday that the hunt for the kidnappers of US reporter Daniel Pearl is shifting to the eastern city of Lahore amid indications that their prime suspect, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, fled there from Karachi.

Campaign Finance Law Vote

The Washington Post 's Milbank on Sunday offered the best glimpse at the White House's thinking we've seen to date. "The White House has made no overtures yet to the score of GOP House members, mostly moderates, who will determine the legislation's fate. Top White House lobbyist Nicholas Calio last week signaled for the first time that the administration will get involved in this week's vote. But administration officials indicated that, while their strategy could change, any intervention would be tempered by concerns that overt opposition to campaign finance reform would focus more attention on its ties to the disgraced Enron Corp." ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A51822-2002Feb9.html )

"President Bush and his aides 'have absolutely stayed completely clear of the subject,' said Rep. Mark Foley (Fla.), one of several GOP moderates whose votes are being courted by both sides in the campaign finance debate. The absence of a veto threat by Bush or intense lobbying, Foley said, means 'it's a pass for me. If the White House isn't bellyaching, and I strongly supported it in the past, it's a much easier vote than if the president was arm-twisting.'"

"Though the administration clearly does not like the Shays-Meehan bill … .Bush aides calculate that a visible lobbying campaign against it would further bind the White House to the hundreds of thousands of dollars Enron and its executives gave to Bush's campaigns."

Alison Mitchell in the New York Times today leads off what is sure to be a week of mega-coverage in the Paper of Record for Campaign Finance Reform with the fact that the party campaign committees have been raising a lot of money this cycle, at least in part as a hedge against something passing. ( http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/11/politics/11DONA.html )

Also, she previews the GOP strategy to stop Shays-Meehan: "[L]oad the Shays-Meehan bill with amendments until it becomes so different from the Senate- passed bill that the measures will have to go to a House-Senate conference committee. Representative Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, even hinted today on NBC's 'Meet the Press' that the Republicans might try to amend the bill so that it has even more stringent limits on money in politics than the current bill has."

"[L]obbying for their allegiance stepped up this weekend. The National Right to Life Committee, which opposes the Shays-Meehan bill, sent a letter to members of Congress detailing its objections."

Here's the Ambinder news analysis: ( http://www.abcnews.go.com/sections/politics/DailyNews/cfr_020208.html )

Common Cause is the latest DC-based interest group to join the legion of outsiders trying to influence the South Dakota Senate race. Interestingly enough, the group is criticizing Republican challenger John Thune for his alleged lackluster commitment to campaign finance reform — campaign finance reform that would, among other things, restrict the ability of groups like, say, Common Cause to, well, criticize Thune for his alleged lackluster commitment to campaign finance reform.

Which is a point not lost on the Thune campaign. Common Cause notes that Thune didn't sign the discharge petition that forced campaign finance reform to a vote in the House, but Thune spokespeople have noted to us that he voted for the bill previously, and are telling the local press that he simply preferred not to use a "trick" to bring a bill to the floor. ( http://www.argusleader.com/news/Mondayarticle1.shtml )

That full-page USA Today ad mentioned in the Roll Call story above — which urges those House members wavering on CFR to stiffen their spines, under the guise of thanking them for voting for it in the past — is being paid for by a group called Americans for Reform, an umbrella organization for all the groups lobbying in favor of Shays-Meehan. Common Cause's chief flack and a former top McCain flack are the spokespeople for the group.

The Economy

Those Blue Chip folks now predict a growth rate of 1.5 percent in 2002.


Although we'll wait for someone to vet this poll, the headline cannot be welcome news at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, from the Orlando Sentinel: "Floridians Uneasy About President Bush's Ties to Enron." ( http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/orl-asecpoll11021102feb11.story )?coll=orl%2Dhome%2Dheadlines )

Time does a page on 43's relationship with Ken Lay, complete with the closest thing yet to a picture of the two of them together (separated by 41, and along with Jeb from 1997). The main new ground broken by the story is the clarification of the The Wall Street Journal 's and other reports saying that George W. Bush used an Enron jet for some of his campaign flights. The story says that campaign staff and Bush family members rented from the Enron fleet, but the candidate himself never flew on one of them planes.

The New York Times checks in on those funds for ex-Enron employees to which politicians are re-gifting their contributions from former Enron executives. ( http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/11/business/11CHAR.html )

The New York Times takes a long look at Bob Rubin's duel life as private-sector businessman and public-sector dabbler, with a hard enough edge that Republicans might not even see a Bernie Goldberg double standard (but, to be frank, not quite the way the paper would probably treat a similarly situated Republican who was, say, advising Trent Lott as opposed to Tom Daschle). ( http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/11/business/11RUBI.html )

History likely will record that it is the most negative story ever written about Rubin in a major paper — and on the front page of his hometown daily, no less.

Rubin doesn't seem to regret at all his call to a senior Treasury official about Enron, but he will likely be pained by this (because that is, apparently, the kind of reputation-concerned guy he is): "Even some of Mr. Rubin's friends say privately that it was a rare misstep for a man known for caution and foresight." (Read to the last paragraph for a clue about who provided that insight on background.)

Given his failure to join the piling on against Treasury Secretary O'Neill, we are pretty sure Rubin will notice this: "Bush administration officials, by contrast, view him as a nagging antagonist, preaching the 90's virtues of budget discipline and low interest rates when they are fighting war and recession."

He takes a hit for his dealings with California Gov. Gray Davis, and for his "rude" multi-tasking in meetings.

For pure color, these are the best parts: "Mr. Rubin calmly ate a bowl of plain blueberries during a long breakfast interview in his red-and- beige office … Wearing his customary charcoal suit and white shirt, he is youthfully trim but gives little evidence of overt vanity."

The The Wall Street Journal snagged the first "extensive" interview with new Enron acting chief executive Stephen Cooper, who is delightfully optimistic that he can salvage a smaller version of the company.

The Los Angeles Times Brownstein urges Congress — quickly, so as to take advantage of the momentum from Enron — to "think boldly about reforming not only the accounting process, but the safeguards built into the basic governing structure of public corporations." ( http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-000010725feb11.column?coll=la%2Dnews%2Da%5Fsection )

The Washington Post looks at how the Enron mess is mucking up legislative activity on electricity deregulation. ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A55148-2002Feb10.html )

ABC 2004: The Invisible Primary

If you smelled smoke over the weekend, that was Jack Germond excoriating Al Gore in the Los Angeles Times: "Former Vice President Al Gore's lurch into what he called 'the national debate' is based on two flimsy premises. The first is that there is such a debate, and the second is that he has the political standing to take part." ( http://www.latimes.com/la-000010252feb10.story )

Gore's "position as a potential presidential candidate in 2004 rests almost entirely on the reluctance — perhaps inability — of both Democratic Party leaders and the press to speak frankly about his standing. The broad and pervasive consensus in the political community today is that Gore is finished as a national candidate. While Republicans lick their chops at the thought of a Gore candidacy, there is not a single Democrat of any national prominence publicly supporting him for the 2004 presidential nomination. Privately he is faring even worse."

Meanwhile, George Will sounded bullish on Senator Lieberman, Democratic nominee. ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A48625-2002Feb8.html )

We'll just go ahead and put this one here: Roll Call reports that both Daschle and Gephardt have begun "monthly issues tutorials" from members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. ( http://www.rollcall.com/pages/news/00/2002/02/news0211f.html )

We cringe a bit at repeating Elisabeth Bumiller's oddly gratuitous Sunday lead, but we found it noteworthy, particularly for the fact that Edwards isn't quoted anywhere in the story: "In less time than it takes to say, 'Senator John Edwards,' the North Carolina Democrat whose presidential ambitions have not gone unnoticed at the White House, President Bush has decided that it is time for full-scale Republican politics." ( http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/10/politics/10BUSH.html )

Senator Edwards' week-old trip to New Hampshire got yet another Sunday-night showing on C-SPAN last night, and our two favorite moments were: a) Edwards apparently failing to recognize Dayton Duncan (YOU don't have to know who he is, but trust us, Edwards does, and as a former Granite State primary combatant might say, it will be Gaffe City if he does something like that in 18 months); and b) a nice old lady being blown away by how young and handsome the Senator is.

The Sunday Boston Globe offered this: "As the clock ticks into the election year, the state Republican Party is desperately dialing for candidates in its search for a name to put on the ballot against US Senator John F. Kerry. But it's not getting any enthusiastic responses. GOP state chairwoman Kerry Murphy Healey even went so far as to call up retired General Electric CEO Jack Welch. She got as far as his secretary who called back and said Welch was not interested … [I]t's a tough sell, particularly after the 1996 election when William F. Weld, then the most popular political figure in the state and with access to big GOP donors, couldn't beat him. It's no wonder the national party has written off the race — which means no financial support from the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "The national party has zero interest," said one Massachusetts GOP leader. 'They won't even return phone calls about it."' ( http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/041/metro/Political_Capital+.shtml )

Now, we suspect that the Washington Times had this op-ed in the can for a little while. Otherwise we'd be scratching our heads over why, on the day before the campaign finance reform debate starts up again in the House, Senator Russ Feingold has an op-ed NOT on CFR, but calling for President Bush to "honor the terms of the War Powers Resolution, which requires the president to do more than outline his global military objectives with tough-talking generalities." ( http://www.washingtontimes.com/commentary/20020211-74331352.htm )

If you were going to compare the New Yorker's Elizabeth Kolbert to something from the world of Chinese food, it would not be sweet and sour. We think "hot and sour" is more apt, and we mean that as high praise. Check out Kolbert's New Yorker-length profile of the Rev. Al Sharpton in this week's issue, for the sweeping vantage.

Iowa's off-year precinct caucuses happen today, and the Des Moines Register 's Root notes that no prospective 2004 candidates are currently trolling in the state. About 25,000 Democrats and a few more Republicans than that will take part. ( http://desmoinesregister.com/news/stories/c4789004/17298670.html )


The Washington Post had a Sunday story on how House Republicans aren't counting on Bush coattails as they prepare for the midterm elections. ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A51578-2002Feb9.html )

Roll Call reports that Rep. Brad Carson, a conservative Democrat from Oklahoma, has returned contributions from Senator Hillary Clinton's PAC. "The Congressman acknowledged that Clinton is still enough of a lightning rod in some parts of Oklahoma that he thought it would be better to not accept her money." ( http://www.rollcall.com/pages/news/00/2002/02/news0211c.html )

New Hampshire's US Senate race is generating almost as much attention as its Democratic primary will in 2004: a Triple S Derby between Shaheen, Smith, and Sununu. The big unknown in this race: each candidate is charismatic and flawed in his or her own way, and there's lots of time between now and November.

The Nashua Telegraph 's Landigran gives his analysis: ( http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/main.asp?FromHome=1&TypeID=1&ArticleID=50214&SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354

The Boston Globe reviews how the Mideast has infiltrated the debate in the GOP primary. ( http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/042/nation/Mideast_tinge_to_N_H_race+.shtml )

A New Hampshire editorialist's cartoon showing a "Bush Budget" airplane slamming into twin towers labeled "Social Security" "raised Bush's ire," according to the Associated Press. ( http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/Main.asp?SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&ArticleID=50232

Bob Novak's sources tell him that the Club for Growth, the free-market interest group that likes to advertise in high-profile races, will run ads AGAINST likely Iowa GOP Senate nominee Greg Ganske. Why? Because a new candidate, a hog farmer named Bill Salier, appears to have better pro-growth creds than Dr. Ganske — who, to Novak's ire, dared to support the Democrats in their desire to regulate HMOs. The GOP nominee will face Senator Tom Harkin in November. ( http://www.townhall.com/columnists/robertnovak/rn20020209.shtml )

Finally, The Des Moines Register 's David Yepsen says that Iowa needs more — not fewer — tax cuts. ( http://desmoinesregister.com/news/stories/c5917686/17265143.html )

This Miami Herald lead speaks for itself: "Florida's election supervisors fear that delays by the Legislature in creating new voting districts could create another national embarrassment for the state in November. Finalization of those district lines — which might not come till summer — will set in motion a daunting and time-consuming series of projects that must go smoothly for the state to begin to clear the stigma of the 2000 presidential vote."

( http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/2645918.htm )

Janet Reno worked hard this weekend to try and gain the support of two constituencies she needs the most: African American voters and union voters. The former might be easier — her pro affirmative-action speech went well — but the latter is getting difficult, particularly because many of the state's politically savvy unions don't think she can beat Gov. Jeb Bush. ( http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/orl-locreno11021102feb11.story )?coll=orl%2Dhome%2Dheadlines )

It was kind of a rough weekend for the White House's favorite California gubernatorial candidate, Richard Riordan, and a lovely weekend for conservative Republican Bill Simon, who "won the hearts" of the California state GOP convention, which may well give him a boost in the primary race.

Simon won the straw poll, which isn't surprising, given the conservative tilt of the convention, but he is probably going to have to spend a lot more of his personal wealth to overtake the frontrunner's big lead. ( http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002/02/11/MN173617.dtl )

Simon will be campaigning (read: fundraising) in New York today.

Bush Administration Strategy/Personality

We've been pushing this story for awhile now: the president will face a decision whether to prop up the steel industry, knowing at once that if he doesn't, it'll cost him votes, and if he does, it may imperil even more jobs than would be saved, annoy steel-users in the United States, cost the Treasury a pretty penny, and tarnish his free-trade credentials.

Today, the The Wall Street Journal gets it just right: "When the president in June first sought authority to restrict steel imports, it was seen as an easy way to bulk up support ahead of the 2004 election in such steel states as Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, while winning room in Congress to maneuver on other trade issues. The effort was couched as part of a larger strategy to slash subsidies and excess steel capacity around the world while moving aggressively to restructure a battered domestic industry." ( http://wsj.emailthis.clickability.com/et/emailThis?clickMap=viewThis&etMailToID=1917972736 )

"President Bush has been quiet on the subject since August, when he told hundreds of steelworkers outside Pittsburgh that steel is 'an important national security issue." Nor does his call for more jobs in his State of the Union address necessarily put him firmly in the steel camp. Many Bush officials fear that hefty tariffs will cost more jobs than they save and could damp any economic rebound. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that as of 1999, 12 million people worked in steel-consuming jobs; just 160,000 now work in the steel industry."

The Journal also says that the aforementioned Mr. Ed Gillespie is working with former Clinton press guy Joe Lockhart on the US Steel account, and that a "television advertising campaign, set to run in Steel Country starting this week, urges viewers: 'Call the White House. Ask President Bush to keep the steel in America's strength.'" (Who has the tape to send us, gentle readers?)

And here is the photo op for which we wait: "The real political threat is the busloads of irate steelworkers that could descend on Capitol Hill and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. 'If we have to stir up our troops up again, we will,' says United Steelworkers of America spokesman Gary Hubbard. 'For us, this is the end of the road.'"

There are two kinds of people within the subset of students of media coverage of presidential campaigns: those who know about the central role the network off-air reporters play in the group dynamics of "the plane," and those who don't.

And there are two kinds of people who watched from afar the Bush campaign plane: those who knew that NBC News off-air Alexandra Pelosi shot hours and hours of video on the plane with her own hand-held camera., and those who didn't.

Well, now the world knows (or, at least, those who still get their news from Time magazine). This week's issue has a full page on the fact that Pelosi has finally finished editing her tapes into a film ("Journeys with George") that will be shown at an Austin film festival next month.

We hate to identify an artist and professional via whose off-spring she is, but in this case, since Pelosi's mom is one of the president's most partisan critics in Congress, having just been elevated to the number two slot in the Democratic House leadership, we feel the need to point out that if the White House feels the need to lash out at the film, they are likely to go off the record and bring up that angle.

The film apparently shows the then-Governor yukking it up on his campaign plane, with no major embarrassment, but a stark contrast with the serious Commander-in-Chief we see now. We suspect the film's biggest impact will be on Al Gore, who will be amazed to see the warm bonhomie that existed on the OTHER plane between candidate and press jackals.

The New York Times , like lots of news organizations and interest groups, wants to plow through then-Governor Bush's official papers to see what kind of Enron stuff there might be. But (we'll donate $5 to the Enron employee fund if Karl Rove tells us we are wrong.), some smart adviser to 43 realized that putting the official papers at the presidential library of 41 would take them out of the Texas open records system, would makes it very easy to get access to them quickly.

The Times looks at the whole process issue: "On Jan. 16, an interim memorandum of understanding was reached … until May 20. That is when … (there will be) a ruling from the Texas attorney general that … will clarify whether Governor Bush, by transferring the records, effectively moved them from under the aegis of the state, and its public information law." ( http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/11/politics/11LIBR.html )

"Few in Austin care to bet how John Cornyn, the attorney general, will come down. The first Republican to occupy his office since Reconstruction and a member of the Bush- Cheney transition team, he ran on a platform of open government."

"Mr. Cornyn declined to be interviewed, but in his inaugural speech on Jan. 13, 1999, he not only thanked his 'friend' Governor Bush but also promised his supporters to 'vigorously enforce the laws requiring that government records and meetings shall be open to public view.'" (Editor's note: Cornyn is running for the Senate, and has already been embroiled in some Enron-related controversy.)

Along the same lines, the Boston Globe looks at the criticism of the administration's penchant for secrecy, and the badly misunderstood Judicial Watch. ( http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/042/nation/Bush_s_stance_on_secrecy_draws_a_number_of_critics+.shtml )

Former Nixon counsel John Dean writes an op-ed that Henry Waxman would be proud of — criticizing Vice President Cheney for blocking the GAO request for energy task force information, and spinning out the motives and political and legal possibilities in a way that that mostly assumes the worst. ( http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/11/opinion/11DEAN.html )

Elizabeth Bumiller continues on her Monday White House Letter roll in the New York Times , this week going beyond the "presidents get good local coverage when they travel" cliché to explain how it's done for maximum effect, by cleverly getting a bunch of former Clinton staffers to reveal the tricks of the trade. ( http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/11/national/11LETT.html )

Such as "[i]n the days before a trip, for example, Clinton staff members would search the White House computer logs for letters to Mr. Clinton written by local citizens, who would then be invited to greet the president as he arrived. The Clinton staff would at the same time alert the local news media and make sure that reporters had access to the letter writers after Mr. Clinton left the airport."

Senate Majority Leader Daschle moved the Pickering nomination backward this weekend, telling Wolf Blitzer he would probably oppose the conservative jurist's nomination to the appellate court. ( http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2002/02/11/judges.htm )

Roll Call reports, "Presidential adviser Karen Hughes is the latest member of the White House staff slated to travel to Missouri to aid former Rep. Jim Talent (R) in his race against Sen.Jean Carnahan (D). Hughes will appear at the Kansas City kickoff event of the 'Women for Talent' group March 6 and then travel to St. Louis later in the day for a fundraiser for the Talent campaign."

The Sunday New York Daily News had the first of what will be many, many looks at Frank Bruni's book on the Bush campaign. Anthropologist Bruni "gets" Bush pretty much as well as any reporter we know, but, as this write-up suggests, some of the scholarly insight will be overwhelmed by the dishing and the gossip. ( http://www.nydailynews.com/2002-02-10/News_and_Views/Beyond_the_City/a-140875.asp )

The War Out There

The Washington Times reports, "A radical Muslim sect with ties to international terrorism is seeking to create a patchwork of 'hide-outs' in rural southern Virginia for would-be terrorists and other extremists, according to law-enforcement authorities here. These sanctuaries, which are communes located throughout the sparsely populated, hilly countryside, have been established to follow the teachings of Sheik Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani … a Pakistani cleric who founded the tax-exempt Muslims of the Americas sect in 1980, which is linked to Jamaat al-Fuqra, a terrorist group with a stated commitment to bringing jihad, or holy war, against the United States." ( http://www.washtimes.com/national/20020211-30966136.htm )

After a weekend of saber-rattling over Iraq, the The Wall Street Journal turns its front-page interview with President Putin into a yellow light (and not a blinking one) on Russian attitudes towards any US military strike on Baghdad.

The Journal also details Secretary O'Neill's meeting in Ottawa with other financial Bigs to pressure them to help more with the war on terror.

In something of a foreign policy version of the Balz/Woodward behind-the-scenes series, the Washington Post 's Kaiser on Sunday began his first in a series of looks at US-Saudi relations, with lots of Saudi side reporting, but the administration taking a pass.

Sunday's link: ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A51555-2002Feb9.html )

Today's: ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A55265-2002Feb10.html )