Daily Briefing: Supremely Self-Assured

And Then I Just Started Sucking-1

Bypassing critics, Bush will travel country selling domestic plans; aggressive pursuit of agenda evident with widening web of loyal officials; Rove, Bolten rule. Ornstein: "There's no question that the president intends to keep the policy-making locus within the White House." [WP, LAT]


Bush vows not to raise payroll taxes to cover Social Security; Bolten predicts shrinking deficits as Bush begins push for partial privatization, estimated to cost $2t over 10 years. [WP, NYT, WSJ, USAT, WT]

Bush, Rumsfeld pivot to support concerns of troops. Bush: "I'd want to ask the secretary of defense the same question, and that is, are we getting the best we can get us? And they deserve the best." Question was prompted by reporter. Publisher: "My biggest disappointment is all this attention focused on the messenger. It is a little disconcerting that we're not as much focused on the message itself." [NYT, NYT, WSJ, USAT, USAT]

Secret, expensive, technical intelligence program provokes ire of Senate Intelligence Committee; possibly a system of new satellites. [NYT, USAT]

Intelligence reform loosens standards for terrorism investigations. Feingold: "I am troubled by some provisions that were added in conference that have nothing to do with reforming our intelligence network." [WP]

Secretaries of Transportation, Labor, Interior and Housing to stay. [WSJ, WT]

Kerik has earned $6m from Taser International, stun gun maker; would cut conflicts of interests if confirmed. [NYT, WSJ]

Pickering to retire. [WSJ, WT]

Powell criticizes uncooperative European nations over Iraq. [WP]

Danforth backs Annan. [NYT, WSJ]

Leibovitz photographs Laura sitting on desk in Oval, George without suit jacket. [WP]

Inaugural, with emphasis on military and veterans, will be most expensive. [NYT]

Hastert balances "supremely self-assured White House" and "insecure, conservative wing" of party. [WSJ]

Think-tanker: "Rumsfeld survives for two reasons. His worldview almost exactly mirrors that of the president and Vice President Cheney. Second, his flinty, take-no-prisoners attitude provides a useful buffer between the administration and many of its critics." [USAT]

Pariser calls Democratic Party "professional election losers. . . led by elite Washington insiders who are closer to corporate lobbyists than they are to the Democratic base." He added, "We're going to take it back." [USAT]

Bush reaches out to willing Congressional Dems. [WT]

Securities Industry Association reports partial privatization of Social Security is "hardly likely to be a bonanza for Wall Street." [WP]

Gay activists unite in opposition to Human Rights Campaign's new moderate positions. [WP]

New chairman of civil rights panel expresses skepticism: "The disparities could be the result of discrimination or it could the result of something else that has no relation to discriminatory conduct." [NYT]

Pelosi expects DNC to back candidates with big money in '06. [WT]

Diversity of cabinet is now expected; no more promises for "administration that looks like America." [USAT]

Nicholson to head Veterans Affairs. [WP]

Johanns brings rural credibility to Agriculture Department. [WP]

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