The Note: Fortnight Follies

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13

NEWS SUMMARY

It is Friday the 13th and a good time to call a clover a clover.

The calendar year has just begun and the pressing question in the Woodruff-Hunt, Matalin-Carville, and Friday-Begala households burns bright for all Note readers: will the Bush-Cheney-Bartlett 2006 be better than their 2005 was?

Beyond the all-important talisman of improving poll numbers, here's what the White House has already accomplished:

1. Proved to themselves, their (real) congressional allies, and (some savvy) Democrats that the fight over NSA surveillance can be the White House's political friend in the midterms (bring. . . It. . . on).

2. Got Sam Alito on the glide path to nomination, without the President or anyone on his behalf having to affirm that George W. Bush wants Roe versus Wade overturned and a constitutional amendment banning abortion. (As for what Alito wants, seems pretty obvious. . . .)

3. Got to decide when (and how) to release those Bush-Abramoff grip-n-grin photos on their own terms (We are thinking a busy, news-filled Friday afternoon TBD to the Forward. [Note: that is perhaps a more complicated joke than we intended it to be.]).

4. Got everyone not to care about Dr. Lawrence K. Altman's latest Cheney health rant.

5. Consulted widely on what should be in the SOTU, with very few leaks.

6. Kept Democrats in a box, making them help constituents sign people up for the prescription drug benefit, whose (potential) success will be used to get Republicans re-elected.

7. Made presidential meta-mea culpas so common that even the Washington Post barely Notices anymore.

8. Laughed and laughed and laughed over Leader Pelosi's endorsement of the Murtha plan symbolizing the state of the Democratic Party's (dis)organization.

9. Made it clear to the Democrats that filibustering the Alito nomination would be politically dumb (or, at least, risky).

10. Soothed press corps outrage over incomplete/misleading/inaccurate statements about White House involvement in the Wilson leak with repetitious platitudes, combined with frequent withdrawals from the McClellan Bank of Goodwill with White House Regulars.

11. Defused calls for a staff shakeup by not changing one blessed thing.

12. Kept all fingerprints off of the House leadership fight (but we know who they want to win). (But wait: Mr. Shadegg of Arizona announced this morning that he is getting into the race. See below for more on that.)

13. Got out of New Orleans without saying "heckuva." (Well, almost.)

What's left to complete before the SOTU?

We'll reveal that list in a subsequent edition of The Note.

President "Victory Lap" Bush holds a joint press availability at 11:25 am ET with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House, followed by a working lunch in the residence. The President meets with business leaders about Central American relief and reconstruction at 1:20 pm ET. He participates in a photo op with the US Solheim Cup team at 1:45 pm ET, and he departs for Camp David at 2:20 pm ET.

Nicely teeing up the President's press conference with the German Chancellor, the AP reports, "Iran threatened on Friday to block inspections of its nuclear sites if U.N. Security Council confronts it over its nuclear activities." The Iranian threat comes one day after the EU3 declared a dead end to the current round of talks with Iran. LINK

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