THE NOTE:For the first time in weeks, the chatter was not about who would replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but was about what Clinton herself would do next. Armed with sky-high approval ratings (see the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll here: http://abcn.ws/WZgc01), and a killer resume, the former first lady is the "one" Democrats want to see in 2016. "Every Democrat I know says, 'God I hope she runs,'" said James Carville yesterday on This Week. Of course, Hillary has been here before. Back in 2006, there was not one political insider who didn't consider her the odds-on favorite for the Democratic nomination.
Today, however, time is on her side. Her success as Secretary of State has opened a slew of options in front of her, although the current thinking is that she starts her post-Foggy-Bottom career at her husband's Clinton Foundation, where she'll focus on the plight of women and girls worldwide. And, given the dearth of any other top Democratic prospects, Clinton's coyness on 2016 "freezes the race for a long time" noted ABC's George Stephanopoulos yesterday. A needed respite for some, a sad reality for others. NOTE IT!
ABC'S RICK KLEIN:What makes the fiscal cliff talks so peculiar is that everyone basically knows what a deal has to look like, while nobody knows whether a deal will actually be reached. It means that negotiations (if that's what they should be called) are less about what's going on between the parties than what's happening inside of them. Those dynamics continue to hold both Democrats and Republicans back. The only way they can come together is if their own bases let them.
'THIS WEEK' REWIND
SEN. TOM COBURN: I'M WILLING TO ACCEPT TAX INCREASES. Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that he is willing to accept tax rate increases as a component of a fiscal cliff deal, as long as Democrats put "significant entitlement reform" on the table. "What we ought to be working on is the other 93 percent, because even if you do what [Obama] wants to do on tax rates, you only affect 7 percent of the deficit," Coburn said in an interview on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos. "What we have done is spend ourselves into a hole, and we're not going to raise taxes and borrow money and get out of it.... And so will I accept a tax increase as a part of a deal to actually solve our problems? Yes," he said. Coburn was joined on the show by three fellow lawmakers: Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, who disagreed with his Republican colleague on the question of accepting tax increases, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz. The two Democrats maintained that entitlement reform should be addressed only after tax cuts are extended for middle class families.
Watch George interview the bipartisan panel here: http://abcn.ws/UNXUBl
GEORGE WILL ON GAY MARRIAGE: 'QUITE LITERALLY, THE OPPOSITION...IS DYING.' While Supreme Court watchers ponder how justices will come down in the debate over gay marriage, ABC's George Will said on "This Week" it's clear where public opinion is headed. "There is something like an emerging consensus," Will said, noting voters in three states recently endorsed same-sex marriage initiatives. "Quite literally, the opposition to gay marriage is dying. It's old people." http://abcn.ws/TV517Y
Read the rest of The Note, ABC's political tipsheet HERE.