TAPPED

MORE SHAKEUP! The...

MORE SHAKEUP! The hapless Scott McClellan resigned this morning as White House press secretary. The conventional rap on McClellan has long been that, in stark contrast to the near-sociopathic unflappability with which his predecessor Ari Fleischer could lie and stonewall on behalf of the president, he always showed the flop sweat and strain when doing the same. If that reflects a bit better on McClellan's personal humanity, I suppose we can all wish him well.

TODAY'S MUST READ...

TODAY'S MUST READ ON IRAN. A great deal of ink has been spilled on Iran of late, but very little of it on proposing any kind of US action other than engagement through the United Nations or (futile and probably self-destructive) air strikes. Slate's Fred Kaplan has started to close that gap, arguing:

THE GREAT MCCAIN...

THE GREAT MCCAIN DIVIDE. Looking at the various defenses of John McCain coming from centrist and liberal writers over the past few weeks and discussed by Matt and Ezra below, I think what we're seeing is the emergence of a new opinion fault line that McCain will have trouble crossing in 2008: the divide between people who discovered him in 2000, and those who did not.

THE POWER OF...

THE POWER OF SOCIAL CAPITAL. I suspect most readers of this site are not regular readers of The Wall Street Journal's Weekend Edition -- I know I'm not -- so I want to highly recommend the paper's Saturday front-pager "Illegal at Princeton" if you can find a copy or subscribe online. The tale of Dan-el Padilla Peralta, a 21-year-old Princeton classics major whose parents illegally immigrated with him from the Dominican Republic in 1989 and who was discovered in a homeless shelter at the age of nine by volunteer Jeff Cowen, a descendent of the founder of the SG Cowen Wall Street brokerage, reading a biography of Napoleon in the corner, would put Horatio Alger himself to shame.

THE ORIGINS OF...

THE ORIGINS OF THE ARTICLE. My first thought upon reading Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer's article about "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" was that if they were going for maximal controversy, they'd missed the moment of greatest potential impact by several years.

NO, MCCAIN REALLY...

NO, MCCAIN REALLY IS THAT CONSERVATIVE. As my colleague Matt noticed, the good folks over at The New Republic are playing some full-court press in defense of John McCain. A couple days ago, editor-at-large Peter Beinart offered his plea to see McCain stick close to his populist, contrarian roots, even offering up a unity scenario in which McCain runs as an independent with a Democrat veep. Today, Jon Chait offers a more full-throated defense of McCain on the merits, arguing that:

HISTORY REPEATS. Can't...

HISTORY REPEATS. Can't have a war in Iran without Joe Lieberman's involvement, so that's taken care of. Which reminds me of something I wanted to say about the whole "how should Democrats handle Iran?" question, namely that the first step is to take this seriously as a party issue. More than one donkey was inclined to favor privatizing Social Security or to make off-message remarks on the subject, but they were largely dissuaded from doing so by a coordinated campaign of fear and intimidation involving party leaders, major interest groups, bloggers and pundits, and everyone else on hand.

CLINTON POLLSTER SAYS...

CLINTON POLLSTER SAYS HILLARY HAS MORE THAN A "50-50 CHANCE" OF BECOMING PRESIDENT. In an appearance that's sure to get the wheels of will-she-or-won't-she-in-2008 speculation spinning, Clinton pollster Doug Schoen told a panel discussion last night that Hillary "undeniably" has "a 50-50 chance, at least" of becoming president, according to an account posted at the Daily Politics.

FAKE DARFUR GRANDSTANDING....

FAKE DARFUR GRANDSTANDING. If you want to understand the how the Bush administration can score political points while taking a minimalist approach to the crisis in Darfur, observe how the press reacts to Ambassador John Bolton�s forthcoming disclosure of the names of four individuals slated for Security Council sanctions. The Security Council will meet in about a half an hour to discuss sanctioning four individuals for their role in the Darfur crisis. By disclosing these names and calling for an open vote on whether they should be sanctioned, Bolton is trying to force Russia and China into going public with their objection to these names.

THE PASSIONS OF...

THE PASSIONS OF THE OVERCLASS. Allow me to agree with Reihan Salam on this:

DEFINING JOHN MCCAIN....

DEFINING JOHN MCCAIN. In yesterday's LA Times, Jonathan Chait offers up a more convincing and sober-minded version of Jacob Weisberg's recent argument that John McCain really isn't a conservative and he's just doing a little necessary pandering.

THE "OVERHAUL" CONTINUES....

THE "OVERHAUL" CONTINUES. The president's effort to shake up the White House staff without actually changing anything took another step forward today. When Andy Card resigned, he was replaced by Office of Management and Budget Director Josh Bolten which, in turn, created an opening. That opening, we learn, will be filled by US Trade Representative Rob Portman. And just to make sure there's absolutely no new blood introduced to the system, Portman will be replaced by his deputy.

PSA. TAPPED will...

PSA. TAPPED will be offline today in celebration of Patriots Day.

--Alec Oveis

DINING WITH DEAN....

DINING WITH DEAN. From Tuesday�s American Prospect breakfast with Howard Dean:

Walter Shapiro: Governor, from where you sit, is the fact that there will be two caucuses between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary a done deal, or is this still open for negotiation, as to whether there will be caucuses and/or whether New Hampshire will have its traditional unmolested Iowa/New Hampshire role in American history?

Howard Dean: We don�t molest anybody. We leave that to the deputy press secretary of the Homeland Security agency.

For this and more, listen to this recording of the event.

--The Editors

JUST POSTED ON...

JUST POSTED ON TAP: THE OUTRAGE GAP. The last thing Democrats need is an electorate on the fence, says Terence Samuel.

--The Editors

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