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Thursday, June 2, 2005 | 9:25 a.m. ET
From Mark Murray and Huma Zaidi

First glance
Assuming that another famous mystery isn’t solved, or that Congress doesn’t actually return a few days early to duke it out over judges or stem cells, or that new DeLay/Abramoff reports don’t surface, we’re pretty sure the White House will finally return to center stage today. First, as NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reports, Bush at 10:15 am will name California Rep. Christopher Cox (R) to head the SEC, replacing William Donaldson, who announced that he was resigning yesterday. Next, Bush speaks at 3:25 pm in Hopkinsville, KY on Social Security. Per the Treasury Department, this invitation-only event will be Bush’s 33rd appearance discussing Social Security since his State of the Union address.

  1. Other political news of note
    1. Animated Boehner: 'There's nothing complex about the Keystone Pipeline!'

      House Speaker John Boehner became animated Tuesday over the proposed Keystone Pipeline, castigating the Obama administration for not having approved the project yet.

    2. Budget deficits shrinking but set to grow after 2015
    3. Senate readies another volley on unemployment aid
    4. Obama faces Syria standstill
    5. Fluke files to run in California

After that chat in the Bluegrass State, Bush jets to St. Louis, where he attends a fundraiser for Missouri Sen. Jim Talent, who’s up for re-election in 2006. This event, which promises to rake in more than $1 million for Talent, will be Bush’s first fundraiser this cycle for an individual Senate candidate.

That other events have seemed to overshadow Bush’s agenda shouldn’t come as a surprise. As we’ve said before, despite their command of the bully pulpit, recent second-term presidents have had far more success in foreign policy than in achieving domestic goals, because they get dragged into scandal (Iran-Contra, Monica Lewinsky) or they get eclipsed by upcoming elections. But Bush’s situation is a bit different: Unlike Reagan or Clinton, Bush’s first term was dominated by foreign events, which didn’t leave much room for domestic achievements outside of tax cuts, No Child Left Behind, and Medicare prescription-drug coverage. And in his second term, he’s championing an ambitious domestic issue -- overhauling Social Security -- that (so far) seems stuck in the polls and inside Congress.

In other news today, the press continues to churn out more stories about Deep Throat, including today’s long piece by Bob Woodward on his famous source. And there’s more speculation about what the French and Dutch rejections of the EU constitution mean for the US.

Democrats and progressives, meanwhile, gather in DC for Day Two of the liberal Campaign for America’s Future conference in DC. Howard Dean is addressing the group right now, and John Edwards speaks at 1:00 pm. AFL-CIO chief John Sweeney, who’s facing dissent within the labor federation (and a possible challenge to his presidency), also takes a turn at the podium.

Moreover, in conjunction with the CAF conference, leaders of the Democratic coalition opposing Bush’s Social Security plan hold at briefing at 11:30 am to provide an update on their activities and to release a new analysis of Bush’s plan.

Finally, some Latino politics: LA Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa gets coverage by saying that the Democratic Party still needs more diversity in its ranks (more on that below), whileRNC chair Ken Mehlman has a conversation with Latino business and community leaders at 3:00 pm in Santa Ana, CA. And Texas Gov. Rick Perry has rejected a request by a Latino state lawmaker barring the Arizona Minutemen from coming to Texas.

Deep Throat
In the Washington Post, Bob Woodward writes a long narrative about how he first met Mark Felt, and how Felt became Deep Throat.

Another Washington Post article says the revelation that Felt, a top FBI official, was Deep Throat has focused “new attention on the bureaucratic turmoil that followed the death of J. Edgar Hoover... Some experts say it is impossible to understand the early development of the Watergate scandal without understanding the battle to gain control over a suddenly Hoover-less FBI.”

Past and present FBI officials, the Los Angeles Times adds, are divided whether Felt was right to pass along information to the Washington Post.

The Washington Times, meanwhile, contrasts the lionization of Felt with the treatment Linda Tripp received for sparking the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. ‘I think that what happened to Linda Tripp -- demonization is too kind a word,’ said David Irwin, who represented Mrs. Tripp during President Clinton's impeachment trial. ‘I thought she got the brunt of a lot of people's frustrations.’”

Whither the EU
The EU constitution was rejected by 62% of Dutch voters yesterday, USA Today writes. “‘The Dutch people have spoken tonight. It is a clear result. Naturally I am very disappointed,’ [Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter] Balkenende said.”

The Christian Science Monitor notes that the French and Dutch votes against the EU constitution “are likely to leave Europe in a period of introspection and preoccupation with internal affairs. And that, experts say, will distract European leaders from an emphasis on Israeli-Palestinian peace, Iranian nuclear moves, Iraq reconstruction, and global trade liberalization - all areas where the Bush administration had hoped for Europe's undivided engagement… ‘Some people in the U.S. may be happy because this is a blow to Chirac…’ says Patrick Chamorel, an expert in transatlantic affairs at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, Calif. ‘But while the U.S. may want to avoid a counterweight, it also wants a strong partner in Europe…’”

The New York Times on the "French 'non' on Sunday and the Dutch 'nee' on Wednesday: “There is a disaffection, perhaps even a rebellion, against the political elites in France, Germany and Italy... The governing parties of the left and the right are saying the same things to their people: that painful, free-market economic reforms are the only path toward rejuvenation, more jobs, better futures. And the people … are giving the same answer: We don't believe you."

The Washington Post: “Unless the French and the Dutch decide to vote again and wind up reversing themselves -- events that seem unlikely given wide voting margins against the document -- it will not survive in its present form. Still, European leaders said they would press to continue the ratification process in hopes that the rest of the continent will line up in favor.”

It's the economy
The latest Pew Research Center poll finds that only one in three Americans think the nation’s economy is in good shape, and optimism about the future is lower than it has been the last three years. Says the press release: “No single factor explains this cautious outlook. Instead, the public's economic unease appears to reflect a variety of concerns” -- which includes gas prices, the deficit, and worry about job opportunities.

Some more bad news on the economy: The Wall Street Journal writes that US auto sales dropped 8% in May from a year ago.

The Wall Street Journal covers William Donaldson’s resignation as head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and it notes that the Bush Administration intends to replace him with Rep. Cox. Bush chose Donaldson to head the SEC “to restore investor confidence as the country reeled from corporate scandals. Mr. Donaldson helped calm investors, but he ended up roiling big business and unnerving his patrons at the White House by being a far more aggressive regulator than his pedigree would have suggested.”

Another Wall Street Journal article notes the challenges Cox will face at the SEC, which include dealing with the corporate criticism of Sarbanes-Oxley, determining whether stock options are expenses, and regulating hedge funds.

And a Wall Street Journal editorial complains that Donaldson often sided with Democrats on the commission. “One mystery of the Bush Administration is that its national security appointees have been so much stronger than its economic policy team. With William Donaldson's announcement yesterday that he's leaving as Chairman at the end of this month, President Bush will get a third chance to get it right at the Securities and Exchange Commission.”

The Bush agenda
The Louisville Courier-Journal notes that all attendees at Bush's Social Security event today were pre-selected, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also previews his fundraiser tonight for Sen. Talent.

The Washington Post covers Cheney’s remarks yesterday to graduating Air Force Academy cadets that the US is winning the war on terror -- yet he didn’t repeat the comment he made to Larry King that the Iraqi insurgency is in its “last throes.” “The vice president's speech, echoing a similar commencement address by President Bush at the U.S. Naval Academy last week, came at a difficult time for the U.S. military operation in Iraq. While a newly elected government has taken office in Baghdad, the anti-American insurgency has launched a fresh wave of violence that killed more than 750 Iraqis and 78 U.S. troops in May.”

Ethics and institutions
"With Democrats gunning for him and a Democratic ex-congressman already working to take his seat, Majority Leader Tom DeLay is wasting no time getting into campaign mode, rallying campaign volunteers and kicking off a ballot petition drive - seven months before the deadline," the Dallas Morning News writes. "Democrats called the early petition drive a sign of someone scrambling to survive."

The Democrats
In an interview in the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone, Senate Minority Leader Reid says John Kerry lost the 2004 presidential election because he ignored rural voters. “Everybody says it was about values, but I don’t buy that,” Reid observes. “Senator Kerry lost because he ignored rural America. Take Nevada as an example. Ninety-one percent of the registered voters are in Reno and Las Vegas. So you would think that someone who carries those two counties by a nice margin would be the winner. Wrong. Kerry carried those counties - but he got slaughtered in the other nine percent, where the turnout was huge.”

Also in the interview, Reid argues that Republicans won’t pull the so-called nuclear trigger if the Democrats end up filibustering one of Bush’s judicial nominees. “They’re saying [they might] to cover themselves. The nuclear option is history. Listen: The Republicans who signed that agreement, we should put up a statue to them someplace. That was a brave thing they did.”

And he says this about Bill Frist: “I like him, but he hasn’t been in government very long. He’s a doctor, and doctors have a little different outlook on life. Being a senator is about the art of compromise… And if anyone feels that compromising is unethical, or immoral, then they should get in some other business - because that’s what we do.”

The AP covers LA Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa’s comments yesterday that Democrats still need to diversify. “‘Look at this room today,’ he told a largely white crowd at a rally for the liberal group Campaign for America's Future. ‘You don't see the kind of diversity that we need to build a strong movement in America.’”  Villaraigosa also said that Democrats must be more patient with voters, and that they need to define “family values” beyond how conservatives define it.

The Los Angeles Times on Villaraigosa’s trip to DC: “Everywhere he went, supporters fawned, many of them asking him to autograph their copies of this week's Newsweek magazine, which bears his smiling face on the cover.”

The Washington Times notes that some members of the Congressional Black Caucus are teaming up with conservatives to make major changes in the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, such as removing the $101,400 aggregate limit on hard-money contributions an individual can make to federal parties and congressional candidates in a two-year election cycle.

Washington state
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer covers yesterday's testimony in the trial over the disputed gubernatorial election between Democrat Christine Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi. "The testimony of each witness touched on a separate tactic in the Republican's two-pronged strategy to overturn the election... The GOP hopes to win the case in either of two ways: Convincing Judge John Bridges to deduct invalid votes from the candidates' totals in proportion to the percentage of the overall vote each candidate received in the affected precincts and persuading Bridges that the vote-counting was so riddled with errors or tainted by misconduct - especially in King County - that the results should be thrown out."

The Seattle Times notes that "[i]n some of his very few editorial comments" in court, Bridges "indicated yesterday that not only does he believe the problems are substantive, but he's frustrated that more hasn't already been done to fix them. What Bridges has not hinted at is whether those problems, as Republicans argue, warrant overturning the November election." Democrats, the paper adds, are expected to rest wrap up their case today.

The Washington Times says that Texas Gov. Rick Perry rejected a request by a Latino state lawmaker to block the Minutemen from beginning border patrols in Texas this October. Perry: “‘The federal government can and must do more to close the border to illegal immigration,’ the two-term Republican said. ‘Until that happens, these kinds of citizen-initiated efforts likely will be the result. If you want to send the Minutemen home, I urge you to make sure we have enough federal agents on the border to secure it.’”


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