The Note: Abducted by Aliens

WASHINGTON, Jan. 3

NEWS SUMMARY

If we were the types to look backward, we would make sure that you had seen Christopher Cooper's December 30, 2005, Wall Street Journal piece on lame-duck First Lady Laura Bush, with this best-of-the-year paragraph:

"A hint of the steel behind her smile was evident early this year, when the White House ushered out longtime head chef Walter Scheib. One East Wing official, breaking months of silence on the issue, cited a 'level of arrogance' Mr. Scheib displayed in preparing dishes the Bush family detested -- scallops in particular, which kept appearing on menus despite repeated complaints. Mr. Scheib declined to comment."

But we are always about looking forward.

The Note and the President think the point of the last three years of his presidency (after he just basically wasted last year) is to see which of his public policy promises he can fulfill, to make America and the world better.

The rest of the politico-media class seems to think the next three years are about jockeying for advantage in the midterm elections and the 2008 presidential sweepstakes.

Finding ourselves, as we often do, in the majority (Sorry, Mr. President), here is what you need to know on the major issues that will dominate the rest of our lives (or, at least, dominate them through election night, which is right around the corner).

SOTU:

What the person at the desk next to yours is focused on: How much Iraq versus how much domestic, and whether Tim Kaine is doing the Democratic response.

What you should focus on: How much Big versus how much small-ball, and whether the speech is a version of the compassionate conservative SOTU Mr. Bush planned for 2002 (but then 9/11 happened).

Iraq:

What the person at the desk next to yours is focused on: Boots (not) on the ground.

What you should focus on: What EJ Dionne nails today: "Khalilzad needs to get Iraq's dominant Shiites to make concessions to the Sunnis and create a semblance of political peace." LINK

Alito:

What the person at the desk next to yours is focused on: Puny ad buys, meaningless PR stunts, and Steve Schmidt's blood pressure.

What you should focus on: Senators Collins and Snowe.

Abramoff:

What the person at the desk next to yours is focused on: Will there be a deal?

What you should focus on: On whom does he have the goods?

Specter hearings on NSA:

What the person at the desk next to yours is focused on: When do they start?

What you should focus on: Does Specter do real oversight/investigative hearings or Bush-era kabuki ones (and what does Sen./Leader/Dr. Frist want?)?

DeLay:

What the person at the desk next to yours is focused on: Legal troubles.

What you should focus on: District troubles.

Fitzgerald:

What the person at the desk next to yours is focused on: Is Rove a focus?

What you should focus on: Will Scooter Libby go to trial?

Economy:

What the person at the desk next to yours is focused on: Macro statistics.

What you should focus on: The right polling data that indicates if presidential efforts to get credit are doing the trick.

Budget:

What the person at the desk next to yours is focused on: Nothing yet.

What you should focus on: The oxes to be gored, and the psycho-split House Republican Conference.

Immigration:

What the person at the desk next to yours is focused on: An issue that divides the Republican Party.

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