The Note: Gradual Push-Me-Pullback

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30

We think it was The Note that once wrote "politically, American involvement in the Iraq war is over." That is more true today than it was yesterday, and it will be even more true next week when the Iraq Study Group dog-and-pony-with-a-purpose turns on the TV lights, and even more so when the Democratic majority rules the roost come January.

For those who want to chronicle every jot and tittle of the kabuki, December will be a great month. For those who want to keep your eye on the prize, get ready for an earlier-than-usual State of the Union. And for those who really want to understand the future of American politics, watch the policy proposals and fundraising totals of McCain-Romney-Clinton-Obama-Edwards-(and Gore).

We know most Note readers go step by step, so: After wrapping up his Middle East trip, including his meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, President Bush is scheduled to arrive back at the White House via Marine One at 4:05 pm ET. ABC News' Karen Travers reports that President Bush said at his overnight press conference with Maliki that U.S. troops will remain in Iraq at the request of the sovereign government there and he expressed confidence in the Iraqi leader.

Nearing the end of his term as UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery, President Clinton begins his travels to Asia today. President Clinton, whose foundation has a major AIDS initiative, is scheduled to attend a World AIDS Day event in Delhi, India.

Presidential hopeful Tom Vilsack "speaks the words" at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mt. Pleasant, IA at 10:30 am ET. The Democratic governor of Iowa also travels to Concord, NH, the home of the first-in-the-nation primary, today. In the coming days, he will also travel to his home state of Pennsylvania as well as Nevada and South Carolina.

When outgoing RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman takes the stage to address the Republican Governors Association today, he is expected to not only continue to tout the importance of firm dedication to the mechanics of campaigning (Ken's love for metrics is well documented), but also make an appeal for the Republican Party to recommit itself to developing good policy.

According to a copy of Mehlman's prepared remarks obtained by The Note, the RNC Chairman is expected to say, "If 2006 taught us anything, it is that a good ground game alone cannot be depended upon to push us over the top."

"We need to remember. . . all of us. . . that it is good policy that makes good politics."

"For Republicans, this must be a time for self-examination."

"It must be a time for growing and learning."

"We must do better. . . and we must be better."

"We can start by recommitting ourselves to be the party of reform."

One White House hopeful who would like to be the candidate of reform is Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). He is not expected to formally address the RGA, but he and his wife Cindy are hosting an reception at Don Shula's Hotel in Miami Lakes, FL from 5:00 - 7:00 pm ET. When Sen. McCain sought the GOP nomination in 2000, one of the first roadblocks he hit was the wall of Republican governors surrounding and supporting their colleague then-Gov. George W. Bush (R-TX).

And/but going up against a soon-to-be ex-governor of Massachusetts and outgoing RGA Chairman clearly doesn't appear to give McCain any pause in seeking support from the Republican Party's gubernatorial ranks, writes ABC News' David Chalian. LINK

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