K STREET GIVETH... Two amusing K Street-related notes regarding Tom DeLay's imminent retirement: First, see Jesse Lee for the latest on lobbyists getting a wee bit testy about DeLay converting the re-election campaign contributions they raised for him into funds for his legal expenses. �If I wanted to give to a legal fund, I would�ve done it directly,� Roll Call quotes one lobbyist; says another, "That all this money will go to the legal defense fund, it sickens me."
THE BOMBTHROWERS' LEARNING CURVE. One more brief thing on Amy Sullivan's piece. On the question of Gingrich-style bomb-throwing and oppositional PR tactics, Amy emphasizes the degree to which Democrats have improved in the last year without getting much credit for it. While I'm on record calling out the Democrats for some residual lameness on the ethics fight specifically, there's no question that this improvement is real, and is hardly ever remarked upon. Major scandal stories erupt without anyone crediting Democratic bomb-throwers for instigating them.
DEMOCRATIC "DISARRAY" -- COMPARED TO WHAT? I'll join with others in strongly recommending Amy Sullivan's bracingly counter-intuitive argument that the Democrats don't actually suck. Amy is very right here. Much of her focus is on the mainstream media narratives that continue to portray Democrats as invariably weak, divided, and feckless. But MSM cluelessness is an old story -- what's frankly more troubling and frustrating is the unyielding scorn and hostility that Democratic activists and netroots folks heap on the Democratic congressional leadership.
WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE? Iraq, health care -- I'll let Matt and Ezra address the "important" issues. Meanwhile, what's with the smear job The New Republic's latest cover illustration pulls on Anna Nicole Smith? Noam Scheiber�s actual article is about a go-getter lawyer named Tommy Goldstein and the democratization of Supreme Court litigation in the last few years, but the cover's all about Anna.
TO MARS? Another possible casualty of Tom DeLay's fall: The Bush administration's baroque moon-then-Mars space exploration program. The mission to Mars, of course, became a fast joke after George W. Bush first unveiled it weeks prior to the 2004 State of the Union address and then failed to mention it in the actual speech, but contrary to most people's assumptions the program has been proceeding full speed ahead, cannibalizing the rest of NASA's budget in the process.