The Note: Behind the Locked Double Doors

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21

NEWS SUMMARY

You should know that every Republican politician with a pollster realizes where public opinion is on the war.

And that every Republican politician with a communications director realizes where the media is on the war.

And that every Republican politician with a TV set realizes that Secretary Rumsfeld didn't fully engage on the facts-on-the-ground questions he got on the Sunday shows.

What will happen in Iraq (and with the Iraq political debate in America) today, this week, this month, next month, and in the next eleven months?

That query is a rhetorical nod both to The Note's powerlessness to actually puzzle out 2006, and to The Note's "facts on the ground are all that matter" mantra.

With members of Congress home with fingers in the wind tracking "stay the course" versus "bring them home," swivel your collective head from the President's fascinatingly conciliatory remarks yesterday on the Iraq political debate to this morning's expected speech by Vice President Cheney.

Mr. Cheney, apparently, will continue to be the Administration's point person on pushing back against critics of the Iraq war.

Cheney is scheduled to deliver an 11:00 am ET speech on "Iraq and the War on Terror" at Mrs. Cheney's home-away-from-home: the American Enterprise Institute.

ABC's Karen Travers reports, "An administration official says to expect to hear more from the Vice President "setting the record straight." Cheney will elaborate on his remarks from Wednesday night at the Frontiers of Freedom Institute and will "take on the Democrats distortions about Iraq and pre-war intelligence."

For one Democratic meta-response, allow us to suggest Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), who delivers 12:45 pm ET remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York regarding the way forward in Iraq.

President Bush departed from Mongolia at 3:30 am ET. He arrives back at the White House at 8:45 pm ET after stopping briefly mid-day in Alaska.

While we all wait for Cheney (The Note confidently predicts roadblocked cable net coverage.), here are your on-topic must-reads. All came courtesy of your Sunday papers, which we have a hunch some of you might have skipped:

Jonathan Weisman and Charles Babington turned in the mustest of must-reads on the Washington Post's Sunday front page looking at the politics of the Iraq debate and its ability to push everything else to the back burner. LINK

This priceless quote from Sen. DeMint encapsulates their story "'I feel like every morning, I wake up, get a concrete block and have to walk around with it all day,' said first-term Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who came to the Senate with an ambitious agenda to overhaul Social Security and the tax code. 'We can't even address the issues.'"

In Sunday's Los Angeles Times, Ron Brownstein got to the crux of the Democratic dilemma on Iraq. LINK

"Last week's emotional congressional debates over Iraq demonstrated the rise of antiwar sentiment among Democrats -- and the challenge the party faces in converting that impulse into a unified alternative to President Bush," wrote Brownstein.

Brownstein went on to report that Rep. Pelosi (D-CA) now only plans for a conference-wide discussion and debate on Rep. Murtha's proposal instead of her original plan to call for an early December vote for the Democratic caucus to adopt Murtha's plan.

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