The Note: Now Control This



Only fools will be distracted by Vice President Cheney's health, the House Republican Leadership election(s), and/or the Alito confirmation hearings.

All of these are vitally important. They will all get a lot of coverage. And they should. But do yourself a favor: keep your eye on the prize/news by carefully going through the Boston Globe's Nina Easton must-read on President Bush's 2006 and State of the Union planning, with his eyes on history, conservatives, the suburbs, women, the House, and compassion. LINK

Then you can go back to a metabolic life not wholly unlike that of a cable television news control room producer:

After a visit to The George Washington University Hospital early this morning, Vice President and Mrs. Cheney have returned home. His schedule for the rest of the day is TBD at this writing. ABC News' Jessica Yellin reports that the POTUS and VPOTUS have indeed spoken today.

From Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride: "His doctors found that his EKG was unchanged and determined that he was retaining fluid as a result of anti-inflammatory medication he has been taking for a foot problem. They have placed him on a diuretic."

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) will be in Washington, DC today continuing to make phone calls to his colleagues seeking their support for Majority Leader. He has no public schedule and no planned media interviews as of this writing.

Rep. Boehner (R-OH) is also in Washington, DC with no public schedule as he continues to focus on talking to members.

President Bush and Judge Alito appeared together in the Rose Garden just before 8:00 am ET. The President described Alito as a dignified man who will interpret the law instead of making the law from the bench. Mr. Bush called for a dignified Senate process. The President also, without apparent irony, lauded the Judge's ABA rating.

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman is hosting a conference call with reporters at 10:00 a.m. ET to discuss the Alito hearings.

The Alito hearings begin at 12:15 pm ET. Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) will be the first to deliver his opening statement. He will be followed by each of the 18 members who will have 10-minutes for an opening statement. Alito will be introduced at 3:45 pm ET by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Christine Todd Whitman, the former Republican governor and EPA administrator. Alito will take his oath at 4:00 pm ET and deliver a 5-8 minute opening statement.

ABC News Now will break into news coverage at 12:00 pm ET to go live with a 15 minute pre-show with Sam Donaldson and Rob Simmelkjaer. ABC News Now will then go straight into the hearings when Specter gavels them open at 12:15 pm ET. ABC News Now will stay with the hearings straight through.

Learn more about ABC News Now here: LINK

On Tuesday, the first round of 30-minute questioning begins at 9:30 am ET. It will continue into the night, with a dinner break from 6:00-7:00 pm ET.

On Wednesday, Specter begins the second round of 20-minute questioning at 9:30 am ET. Questioning resumes after a dinner break at 7:00 pm ET. If the questioning is completed, the committee goes into a closed session to review Alito's FBI background check.

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