The Note: Sweat the Big Things



Last week and this week are a swirling mélange of IraqAlitobudgetDeLayLibbyDemocratshavenomessage

Keep your eyes on what matters for 2006 and 2008, however:

A. The number of U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq on November 1, 2006.

B. The degree to which Republican candidates in 2006 get credit with seniors for the Medicare prescription benefit.

C. Whether there are mass Republican retirements in the House before 2006.

D. Whether Mainers Snowe and Collins continue to (HEART) Judge Alito.

E. Whether Patrick Fitzgerald indicts anyone else (or not).

F. Whether there is a Scooter Libby trial (or not).

G. Whether the White House and congressional Republicans can thread the political needle on spending cuts/deficit reduction versus tax cuts and sacred cows.

H. The extent to which the State of the Union is boffo.

I. The extent to which Democrats come up with new ideas that voters can understand and care about.

J. Whether there is a Democratic position on Iraq by September 25, 2006 (or not).

K. The extent to which the AFL-CIO is still a viable political entity.

L. The likelihood that NRCC topper Tom Reynolds ever pulls an Ed Rollins LINK

and advises House candidates to run away from George Bush (which, in an under-Noted remark, Ken Mehlman endorsed as a strategy last week).

M. What independents will think about President Bush and Republican control of Washington on Election Day, 2006.

Completely aware of The Note's list (since it was practically dictated to us by his senior aides), President -- along with the First lady -- plans to depart the White House at 11:15 am ET for their trip to Alaska and Asia this week.

Air Force One is scheduled to touch down in Anchorage, AK at 6:20 pm ET. The President will make remarks on the war on terror at Elmendorf Air Force Base before taking off again at 8:20 pm ET en route to Osaka, Japan and then on to Kyoto. President and Mrs. Bush will spend the rest of the week in Japan and Korea.

Vice President Cheney meets with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi at the White House today.

Cheney is also scheduled to be the featured speaker this afternoon at NRCC Chairman Rep. Tom Reynolds "summit" in New York City. At 5:00 pm ET in Washington, the Vice President headlines a fundraiser for State Sen. John Campbell (R-CA), who is running to replace Christopher Cox in CA-48. Speaker Hastert, Majority Whip Blunt, and other members of the House Republican leadership are expected at the Campbell fundraiser as well.

At this writing, it is not clear when/if the Alito document dump reported in today's Washington Times will take place or from where it will come. One source says we can expect a few scores of pages from the Reagan Library.

Sen. Clinton (D-NY) and her husband attended a memorial service for Yitzhak Rabin at 8:00 am ET in Jerusalem. She is scheduled to attend the 12:30 pm ET opening of the Yitzhak Rabin Center in Tel Aviv.

The Senate meets at 2 pm ET to resume consideration of S.1042, the FY2006 Defense Appropriations bill. At 5:30 pm ET, the Senate will proceed to a vote final passage of the FY2006 Energy and Water Appropriations bill.

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