Bill Richardson did well on "This Week" today on illegal immigration, basically arguing for federal action along the lines of something involving elements of the proposed McCain-Kennedy bill (which would allow illegal immigrants to begin an onerous process of moving toward citizenship) and parts of an alternative backed by Senators Kyl and Cornyn, which involves increasing border security. While I confess I don't know as much about the immigration issue as I ought to, I think that we should be paying attention to governors like Richardson and Napolitano - the states they govern are on the front lines of this debate, and their ideas certainly should be given great weight.
The second part of "This Week" seemed a sneak preview of an '08 Republican presidential primary debate. As you all know, I'm a big fan of intra-party dialogue; it's healthy, and I wish there was more of it. I was pretty surprised at the level of disagreement between Senators Hagel and Allen today; I'm not sure there was a single question where one didn't "completely disagree" with the other: Iraq on benchmarks, withdrawals, and its similarities to Vietnam; illegal immigration; even Cindy Sheehan (Allen walked back some comments from a couple weeks ago, as I expected he would, and said that while Bush should have met with Sheehan at the beginning, "things have changed" during her protest).
Hagel continued his "staying the course is not a policy" mantra, saying that the next six months are going to be incredibly important. We need to get out as soon as we can do so without leaving a dangerous power vacuum, Hagel said, because our continued presence there is going to only destabilize the region even more. Allen strenuously disagreed with that characterization, handing out Administration talking points like candy.
On immigration, Hagel said that there were elements of McCain-Kennedy that he agrees with, and that he'll be introducing a similar bill with added security elements in the near future. Allen took the "you can't reward illegal behavior" line.
Like I said, there was a pretty surprising level of tension between the two senators, but it was respectful and decent. We should be seeing more of this, not less.
I'm going to have updates throughout the morning to this as the shows go along.
: Senator Graham on "Fox News Sunday" discussed Iraq ("people are concerned," "our security is tied to the security of Iraq"), gas prices ("Iraq and gas prices are what people talk about," "increase domestic production," etc.) and his Alaska trip. On that point, he said that he's become convinced that man is at least "partially" responsible for global warming, and that changes are
occurring, but that any solution must include China and India so that it doesn't "cripple" our economy. Absolutely right - he should talk to the president about that and urge him to begin negotiations instead of ignoring the developing economies. -- 10:54 a.m.]
: Feingold on "Meet the Press" - a more than decent case for his idea of setting a target date for the withdrawal of American troops. He made the point - one I hadn't heard made before - that we've set "target dates" for practically everything (transfer of sovereignty, elections, constitution, etc. etc.) - so why not have a similar goal for a pullout of American troops? Seems an interesting question at the very least.
Another interesting point - if the terrorists' goal is to drive us out and take control, why don't they stop blowing us up and let us leave, then seize power?
Feingold's clearly made himself a voice in this debate, and I think these are good questions. I'm not entirely convinced by those who oppose a timeline that it would do as much damage as they seem to think it would, and I am becoming increasingly convinced that as far as the American people and military go, laying out a road map for success and target dates (obviously not "deadlines") for troop drawdowns would not be a bad idea. People are concerned, and rightly so - Hagel's right, staying the course is not a policy, and Feingold's got some interesting and important pieces to add to the discussion. -- 11:13 a.m.]
: Lott's interview on "MTP" was fairly benign and the usual talking points, including the discussion his new book - he played down his differences with Bush and even Frist over his ouster as majority leader back in 2002. The only interesting moment came right at the end, when David Gregory asked if Lott thought Frist "has the character to be president." Lott seemed to be gulping for air for a moment, said "I'd have to think about that," stammered something about not knowing who he was going to back in the 2008 race, and ended by saying "I probably would lean toward some of the others, let me just put it that way." Probably not a surprise to Frist, but something that may make some news. -- 11:21 a.m.]
: As Phil notes in comments, Lott did get a little talkative about Iraq war planning. I missed exact quotes from that but once a transcript appears I'll have some up.]
: Now that the "MTP" transcript
is up, you can check out the exchange about Iraq war planning - it's just a bit past halfway down the page. He said "Well, beginning in August that year  and into the fall - in fact, beginning not too long after 9/11 - as we had leadership meetings at breakfast with the president, he would go around the world and talk about what was going on, where the threats were, where the dangers were, and even in private discussions, it was clear to me that he thought Iraq was a destabilizing force, was a danger and a growing danger, and that we were going to have to deal with that problem
He goes on to try and dial that statement back, but really it doesn't strike me as anything all that different than has been said for quite a while by Richard Clarke and others. -- 12:32 p.m.]
I'm not sure whether any news will be made over on "Late Edition," but if there's anything worth noting, I'll do so. So far, haven't seen much.