WASHINGTON, Dec. 7
In the one hand, top Republican Party strategists hold graphs of polling dips, Abramoff/Scanlon/Cunningham media clips, and telephone message slips from jittery candidates/incumbents reflecting the theoretical possibility (a/k/a: "fear") that they could lose control of the House (and, perhaps, the Senate) in 2006.
In the other hand, they hold the gift they believe keeps on giving, just when they need it most: the politico-military public strategizing of Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, and John Kerry.
House Democratic Leader Pelosi says a majority of her colleagues are for a Murtha-style withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, but she doesn't think that that should be the position of her caucus.
Pelosi's lieutenants -- Steny Hoyer and Rahm Emanuel -- don't think that that should be the caucus position either, but they, uhm, go about expressing that view in a different way, and they hold this position for at least a slightly different reason.
What must Leader Pelosi and Chairman Dean have thought as they read the on-the-record and thinly veiled background quotes in this morning's Washington Post???!!?? (Only people with names such as "Finney" and "Crider" can hope to know such mystical things. . . . .)
The politics of Iraq are front and center again today, as President Bush gives another big speech on Iraq and House Democrats meet to figure out what (if anything) they stand for on the major issue facing the nation these days.
While facts on the ground continue to be created each minute.
President Bush will deliver his second speech in his series of speeches on Iraq prior to the December 15 elections to the Council on Foreign Relations at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC at 10:45 am ET.
ABC's Karen Travers has the preview:
"President Bush will deliver the second in a series of speeches on Iraq leading up to the December 15th elections in Iraq. In this speech before about 300 members of the Council on Foreign Relations, President Bush will address the economic strategy for reform and reconstruction in Iraq."
"An official who has seen the speech tells Martha Raddatz that Bush will stress 'clear, hold and build' strategy for Iraqi security, which is outlined in the "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" document the White House released last week."
"The President will address:"
"- how the U.S. military conducts security operations and follows up with reconstruction"
"- focused reconstruction, humanitarian assistance and civil affairs and cite examples of where this has worked in Iraq and where it has not"
"- the Administration's specific concerns that still need to be addressed on the economic front"
"The Council on Foreign Relations offered the President a question and answer session with its members, but the White House declined," adds Travers.
Meanwhile, the House Democratic caucus was gathering at 9:00 am ET for a closed door debate about its position(s) on Iraq. The Democratic leadership (including Rep. Bob Menendez, for you Garden State watchers) will meet the press at 10:00 am ET.
Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA) will be responsible for responding to the President's speech on behalf of House Democrats at 1:30 pm ET in the House Radio/TV gallery.
Senate Democrats will rely upon Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) -- sans John Kerry this time -- for their rebuttal to the President's speech. Sen. Reed takes to the Senate gallery at noon ET.