The Note: The New New Normal

"Now come two decisive questions," write the Wall Street Journal's King, Dreazen, and Jaffe: "Can Democrats agree on a unified approach for pulling U.S. troops out? And will Mr. Bush show willingness to weigh those ideas, which he has dismissed for months on the grounds that they would essentially hand victory to the terrorists? Mr. Bush's appointment of Robert Gates . . . signaled to some that the president might be open to changes."

Any news organization worth its salt knows: it is ALL about the Baker report, and the series of kabuki dances that come after its release.

2006: analysis:

The New York Times' Nagourney/Rutenberg/Zeleny opus is a must-read full of smart What It All Means analysis (read: an unpopular war) and Republican and Democratic campaign strategy unfolded. It also includes great nuggets about when Rove knew the House was likely to flip Democratic, Rahm Emanuel's initial response to Jack Murtha's November 2005 call for withdrawal of troops, President Bush's last-minute addition to his Wednesday call sheet, and lots and lots of credit for the Schumer/Emanuel dynamic duo. LINK

The Washington Post's Michael Grunwald reports: "By day's end, Republican fingers had pointed at every conceivable Republican scapegoat: ex-representative Mark Foley of Florida and his scandal-plagued colleagues, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, presidential adviser Karl Rove, even Sen. John McCain of Arizona." LINK

The Washington Post's Jim VandeHei and Chris Cillizza Note that Democrats won big Tuesday by "undoing GOP gains among Catholics, married mothers, and Latinos." LINK

The Washington Post's George Will sees three reasons for conservatives to "temper their despondency": "First, they were punished not for pursuing but for forgetting conservatism. Second, they admire market rationality, and they political market has worked. Third, on various important fronts, conservatism continued its advance Tuesday." LINK

The Wall Street Journal's ed board writes: "All told, the Republicans deserved the electoral drubbing they received. Democrats will now have to prove they deserved the majority that GOP failure has handed them."

Roll Call's Morton Kondracke writes that the Democratic takeover was a "rebuke not just to President Bush and Congressional Republicans but to radio talk-show hosts and other right-wing polarizers."

Some facts and figures courtesy of the DSCC.

- Tuesday's victories brought Democratic congressional gains to the highest level since the post-Watergate election in 1974.

- 2006 represents the largest number of GOP Senate incumbents ousted in any election since 1986.

The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne writes that Democrats "hold power on the basis of a loan of votes from middle-of-the-road Americans who simply could not stomach Bush Republicanism anymore." LINK

The Washington Post's David Broder writes that the Republican Party "paid a heavy price" for Bush and Rove's obduracy. LINK

Bush-Pelosi:

The Washington Post's Dan Balz describes President Bush as "politically humbled" while adding that it was not clear yesterday whether President Bush and the Democrats are "genuinely prepared to work together" to produce a change of course in Iraq. LINK

Mike Glover announces Tom Vilsack's intentions:

The AP reports Gov. Vilsack will announce his interest in running for President today. LINK

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