In a news analysis, David Sanger of the New York Times describes the current moment as possibly President Bush's last to alter his Iraq strategy and redefine the terms of victory as nearly everyone in Washington seems to no longer be debating if troops should start coming out of Iraq, but instead simply debating when and how rapidly. LINK
The San Francisco Chronicle's Marc Sandlow sees President Bush's comments while traveling in the Middle East as yet another example "that the world of public Bush-speak -- from his vigorous support for al-Maliki and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to his rejection of direct diplomacy with Syria and Iran -- bears little relation to what goes on behind the scenes." LINK
Adam Nagourney of the New York Times, who grew up always wanting to be a blogger, blogs the GOP's introspection on their 2006 midterm performance at the RGA gathering in Miami -- and potential course corrections for 2008. LINK
The AP's Liz Sidoti reports on Ken Mehlman telling those gathered at the RGA that "for Republicans, this must be a time for self-examination when it comes to our policy" and urged the party to do some soul-searching before 2008. LINK
The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne reports that the real tension in the new Democratic majority is between older members who came to political maturity in the pre-Clinton, pre-Gingrich era and younger members "have only known life in the opposition during a time when Republicans radically centralized control in their leadership." LINK
Outstanding House races:
Hispanic voting rights groups in Texas are crying foul because of the date set for the runoff between Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-TX) and Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX). The AP's Suzanne Gamboa writes that the Dec. 12th runoff "falls on the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe," a holiday which most Catholic Hispanics celebrate, and that "the district has a 61 percent Hispanic voting age population." LINK
Tom Loftusand and Elisabeth J. Beardsley of the Louisville Courier-Journal believe that Rep. Ben Chandler's (D-KY) announcement that he will not run for governor "has given new hope to Democrats." Rep. Chandler calls the situation "fluid with a capital F." LINK
Casting and counting:
According to draft recommendations issued this week by a federal agency that advises the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, paperless electronic voting machines "cannot be made secure," reports the Washington Post's Cameron Barr. LINK
In a story which chides some liberals for being paranoid even when they win, the Wall Street Journal's ed board Notes that Democrats could attempt to disallow the Florida certification and vote to seat Christine Jennings in January unless a new election is granted as was done in a contested Indiana House race 20 years ago.
Andrea Stone of USA Today reports on Rep. elect Keith Ellison's (D-MN) inaugural controversy surrounding which religious book -- the Bible or the Quran -- upon which he chooses to place his hand when he takes the oath of office in January. LINK
The Wall Street Journal's Schlesinger reports that former Viagra pitchman Bob Dole is teaming up with Pfizer again, this time to "hawk success stories for Medicare's drug benefit."
Jim Abrams of the AP writes about the co-dependent relationship between the Republican Main Street Partnership -- which lost 10 members this year -- and Blue Dog Democrats. Abrams makes Note of how each member was taken down by their Democratic challenger in the last election, and how the moderate candidates prevailed. LINK