And it will certainly have the most impact on the Democrats and independents of the Granite State, who have the biggest say in determining the party's nominee. More on the December Debate below, in its own new section. (Robert C. Wright; Josh Wachs) [Judy Reardon; all Googling monkeys; James Pindell]
2. If you needed any more evidence of the Gang of 500's unique and overriding obsession with process stories, ask yourself how many real Americans care where Mike Allen was standing when it began to dawn on him that he wouldn't be spending Thanksgiving with his nephews; about the color of the floor of the Air Force One hangar at Andrews; or about the swapping out of the Fox crew for the CNN crew in the pool. (Howard Dean; Tom Daschle; Hillary Clinton) [Dan Bartlett; Trish Enright]
(Look!!! The Note agrees with The Pod!!! LINK)
3. With the State of the Union coming one day after the Iowa caucuses, will that take any anchors away from Des Moines, or simply lead to a mass charter from Fleur Drive to Reagan? And will the Hawkeye winner(s) get all the bounce of a dead cat? (Steve Murphy; Jim Demers; Miles Lackey; Elizabeth Edwards; Monica Fischer) [Phil Alongi; Tony Podesta; Al From; Doug Sosnik]
4. In the State of the Union, what will President Bush say about:
a. Social Security personal retirement accounts? Sunday's Los Angeles Times had Brownstein and Chen IN SEPARATE PIECES (!!!) on how the White House might push off of Medicare for this … . LINK and LINK, and today the Wall Street Journal ed board says proper Social Security reform should be aggressively pursued by the president as penitence for his liberal cave in on Medicare.
b. Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden?
c. The deficit? See Ron Brownstein's column today for a to-the-woodshed-Mr.-President take on the Bush-Cheney-Snow deficits. LINK
(Nancy Pelosi's communication staff; any Democrat asked to sit in the First Lady's box)
[Mike Gerson — still the most underrated member of the Bush White House, particularly now that Joe Hagin had blown his cover with the whole Iraq thing]
5. Speaking of the State of the Union, that will be a good time for the president and the nation to review how he is doing on his core campaign promises. Sure, his critics might quibble about whether the "done" things are actually "done," but, as POTUS talking points, what is done is done.
Done: education reform, tax cuts, Medicare reform, a prescription drug benefit, vast increases in military spending, restoring honor and dignity to the Oval Office
Pending: Social Security reform, tort reform, energy policy
Not so much: a changed tone in Washington, a humble foreign policy, reduction in the size of the federal government
6. Watch the quiet (and not so quiet) battle between those Democratic elected officials/super delegates who move toward public support of Howard Dean and those who implicitly or explicitly join the Stop Dean movement.
John Breaux's shot across the Burlington bow on "This Week" yesterday was not the first time you will hear anti-Dean boogeyman stuff like that, and Gina Glantz isn't the last person getting on the Dean bandwagon. — in fact, some intriguing B-I-G names have already secretly signed up. (Daschle; Teresa Vilmain; Steve Rosenthal) [Karl Rove, Ken Mehlman, Tom Davis, Tom Reynolds]