Jim Henley makes the case. It involves reading a lot into a single bit of polling data, but I think it’s fairly compelling. As with much in politics, though, a lot comes down to how the candidates respond under pressure as the lights start shining on them brighter.
Bill Richardson does us all a favor and offers up a fun, original campaign ad (via Mike Crowley) that also happens to bring home the small point that he’s wildly more experienced than the competition in this race. I should also note that his healthcare plan reflects my sense of the correct strategy on the issue.
I guess I understand why it’s relatively rare for politicians to cut outside the box ads, but you’d see longshots like Richardson try it more often.
“U.S. intelligence recently undertook a ‘significant’ covert action without notifying Congress, as required by law, the House Intelligence Committee disclosed in a new report on the 2008 intelligence authorization bill,” Steve Aftergood reports.
“The Committee was dismayed at a recent incident wherein the Intelligence Community failed to inform the Congress of a significant covert action activity. This failure to notify Congress constitutes a violation of the National Security Act of 1947.”
“Despite agency explanations that the failure was inadvertent, the Committee is deeply troubled over the fact that such an oversight could occur, whether intentionally or inadvertently.” [...]
In response to this lapse, the Committee adopted a provision in its authorization bill that would require the CIA Inspector General to audit each covert action program at least once every three years.
“The Pentagon, bearing the brunt of criticism for shortfalls in National Guard supplies in the wake of last week’s devastating tornado in Kansas, acknowledged Wednesday that Army National Guard units currently had only 56 percent of their required equipment,” down from 75 percent prior to Sept. 11.
Radar Online recounts a conversation between presidential candidate Mike Gravel and Tom Edsall, the former senior political writer for the Washington Post who is now with the New Republic:
Gravel smiles broadly and says, “Hey, can you straighten out David Broder?” Broder, an influential columnist at the Post and the unofficial godfather of the D.C. press corps, has been a target of much criticism from liberal blogs for seeming to provide political cover for Bush on Iraq, even with a majority of Americans now opposing the war. “He doesn’t believe in the power of the people!” Gravel says. Edsall blinks and looks perplexed. “David Broder is the voice of the people,” he replies matter-of-factly. Gravel starts to smile, assuming Edsall is making an absurdist joke. But Edsall is not joking. The two men look at each other in awkward silence over a great gulf of unshared beliefs, then Gravel chuckles and walks ahead into the restaurant.
Glenn Greenwald has much more.
House Armed Services Committee Ike Skelton (D-MO) “dealt a blow to the human-rights community by failing to include provisions to overhaul GOP legislation governing military tribunals in the 2008 defense authorization bill. The chairman’s move is attracting criticism from some who say Democrats’ dedication to the issue is wavering.” Skelton (D-MO), with the support of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), says he plans to bring a stand-alone habeas bill to the floor.
In a sign of the growing fissure between the White House and its congressional allies over the war, NBC News reports tonight that 11 Republican members of Congress pleaded yesterday with President Bush and his senior aides to change course in Iraq.
The group of Republicans was led by Reps. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Charlie Dent (R-PA), and the meeting included Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Karl Rove, and Tony Snow. One member of Congress called the discussion the “most unvarnished conversation they’ve ever had with the president,” and NBC’s Tim Russert said it “may have been a defining pivotal moment” in the Iraq debate.
Russert described the conversation:
[O]ne said “My district is prepared for defeat. We need candor, we need honesty, Mr. President.” The president responded, “I don’t want to pass this off to another president. I don’t want to pass this off, particularly, to a Democratic president,” underscoring he understood how serious the situation was.
Brian, the Republican congressman then went on to say, “The word about the war and its progress cannot come from the White House or even you, Mr. President. There is no longer any credibility. It has to come from Gen. Petraeus.” The meeting lasted an hour and 15 minutes and was, in the words of one, “remarkable for the bluntness and no-holds-barred honesty in the message delivered by all these Republican congressmen.”
Watch the report:
UPDATE: House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) also attended the meeting.
Transcript: Read more
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sens. Schumer, Durbin, and Murray write President Bush: “[T]he troubles relating to Mr. Wolfowitz have thrust the Bank into an historic crisis, which is jeopardizing the Bank’s ability to garner support from member countries and, by extension, the Bank’s ability to perform its fundamental purpose of alleviating poverty.”
Mr. President, we are very concerned that the window of opportunity is closing fast for the United States to show leadership to resolve this crisis without undermining the Bank or the U.S. leadership role in it. The Bank’s Board may feel compelled to vote on the future of Mr. Wolfowitz’s tenure as President, an unprecedented step. We do not believe the Bank’s mission or U.S. interests would be advanced by such a vote. We urge you to take decisive action quickly to bring this crisis to a close.
More good stuff from Mark Schmitt on the Mark Penn issue. Schmitt makes the point that Penn combines his multitudinous conflicts of interest with a methodology that leaves him very free to come up with whatever result he wants to find: “Penn’s choice of categories has little to do with the actual data and everything to do with his presumptions going in — populism doesn’t work, don’t criticize corporations — which in turn have a delightfully precise correspondence with the interests of the clients of the firm of which Penn is Worldwide President and CEO.”
To bring this back to the point I made yesterday, I think the thing to remember here is that Hillary Clinton isn’t a political naif and Penn’s basic notion of the shape of American politics doesn’t change year-to-year. One would only give him such a large role in one’s campaign if one already wanted to run and govern in the sort of way that Penn would predictably suggest.
In a January address announcing his escalation plan, President Bush unveiled a broad new plan to recruit U.S. government officials to move to Iraq to aid in reconstruction efforts:
We will double the number of provincial reconstruction teams. These teams bring together military and civilian experts to help local Iraqi communities pursue reconciliation, strengthen the moderates, and speed the transition to Iraqi self-reliance.
In an effort to carry out Bush’s call, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez sent an email to employees last week:
I am asking all Commerce employees to consider supporting this important effort. The Department of State is seeking highly motivated, action-oriented, resilient people with a strong desire to assist in the Iraqi rebuilding effort. Volunteers must demonstrate willingness and ability to work in a difficult foreign environment under challenging circumstances with access to few amenities.
Gutierrez received a dismal response. Of the 39,000 Commerce employees who received the email five days ago, just 40 people responded, and the department refused to note how many of those were “yes” answers.
The Washington Post noted in February that the administration’s recruitment efforts have been met with “outright refusal to fill certain vital posts” by several other departments. For example, so many State Department employees refused Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s call to serve in Iraq that she was forced to request an already overstretched U.S. military to fill their positions.
As the New York Times notes, “The reluctance highlights a problem with the administration’s new strategy for Iraq…when the lack of security on the ground [in Iraq] makes it one of the last places people, particularly those with families, want to go.”
Read Gutierrez’s full email below: Read more