The Note: Witness for the Witness

The Des Moines Register takes Note of Sen. Chuck Grassley's (D-IA) folksiness while questioning Alito. LINK

The New York Times' Adam Nagourney Notes that liberal interest groups opposed to Alito's confirmation are increasingly distressed by the way the confirmation hearings are playing out and are voicing their concerns to Democratic Senators and their aides. The two Senators they are happy with? Schumer and Durbin. LINK

USA Today's Joan Biskupic analyzes Alito's style, finding that his "plodding" manner managed to soften the edges of most sharp criticism that came his way. LINK

David Brooks writes the Alito hearings show, once again, why Democrats are out of touch with middle-class white voters.

The New York Times on Mrs. Alito's tears: LINK

The Wall Street Journal on the Democrats bringing Mrs. Alito to tears: "party may have lost points when judge's wife left hearing room in tears." LINK

The New York Times' Adam Liptak looks at the long shadow cast by Justice O'Connor over the Alito hearings. LINK

Newt Gingrich told Fox News yesterday the Democrats' questioning of Alito reminded him of Sen. Joseph McCarthy's grilling of suspected communists. LINK

Deb Orin, in her New York Post column, asks if there is "a stupider move in the Democratic playbook" than making Alito's wife cry. LINK

Dana Milbank on the Democrats' last roar. LINK

The Washington Post has Alito disavowing CAP. LINK

The Los Angeles Times explains CAP to the uninitiated: LINK

Janet Hook of the Los Angeles Times points to publicity-hungry Senators as the source of the lack of genuine questioning. The hearings have been so colorless, says one Democratic staffer, "It's like the first half of 'The Wizard of Oz." LINK

Alito: news of day:

New York Times: LINK

The Los Angeles Times: LINK

USA Today: LINK

State of the Union:

Two must-reads on the same topic:

The Wall Street Journal's McKinnon and Lueck report that President Bush is planning to focus on health care in 2006. Among the proposals he is considering are bigger tax breaks for Americans who buy their own health insurance, broader use of HSAs, and helping consumers get more information about providers' price and performance.

Bloomberg's Murray and Donmoyer write up Al Hubbard's pronouncement that the President is not interested in his tax reform panel's recommendation to tax some workers on their employer-provided health benefits. LINK

"Bush will lay out his agenda for the year in his State of the Union address at the end of the month. Dropping the recommendation to tax health-insurance benefits allows the president, fresh from a defeat for his plan to overhaul Social Security, to avoid an election-year confrontation with labor unions such as the AFL-CIO over the potential erosion of worker benefits and with insurers concerned about losing business."

Follow the Leader(ship race):

From Team Blunt's Jessica Boulanger:

Blunt's momentum continues to build---public supporters topping 64. The numbers speak for themselves, as do the scores of House Republicans who tell Blunt he is the right leader at the right time for our party.

From the north, south, east, west. . . Committee Chairmen, elected leaders, freshmen, senior lawmakers.... Prominent moderates, staunch conservatives.... Blunt has the breadth and depth of support to not only win this race but to unify House Republicans (after some of the most difficult months of our majority) and accomplish even more for the American people.

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