The Note: As Annoying As the Kennedy Center Honors


Undereducated Note readers can get bogged down on Iraq this week (or this month), or they can move to where the political action is: 2008.

The must-reads:

1. Adam Nagourney of the New York Times takes a look at the altered dynamics of the 2008 presidential contest on the Democratic side due to Sen. Obama's potential candidacy. Nagourney smartly Notes that the impact is not so much on Sen. Clinton -- and more is complicating matters for the rest of the Democratic field originally planning strategies to emerge as the Clinton alternative. LINK

"Mark McKinnon, who was a top adviser to President Bush in his two White House runs and who is a senior adviser to Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and a likely presidential candidate in 2008, said, 'I think Barack Obama is the most interesting persona to appear on the political radar screen in decades.' He added, 'He's a walking, talking hope machine, and he may reshape American politics.'"

Note, too, the details of a Spitzer/Clinton brunch in Manhattan yesterday where Nagourney reports that the two pols sifted through the pros and cons of a possible Clinton presidential run.

2. The New York Times' Pat Healy offered a Sunday must-read that moved the Hillary Clinton ball down the field a bit with his reporting that the Senator has started meeting with New York Democratic elected officials to talk them through her thinking and ask them to continue to keep their powder dry as she continues exploring a candidacy. LINK

3. And according to Liz Smith's Sunday column in the New York Post, it appears that not all of that shoring up home-state support has been happening behind closed doors. LINK

(Note to the Post political desk: you might want to read this column.)

4. Glenn Thrush reports that Clinton is expected to name a longtime congressional fundraiser, Jonathan Mantz, to the critical job of national finance director, "according to a knowledgeable source outside Clinton's camp." LINK

5. New York Magazine's John Heilemann writes a must-read cover story on Bloomberg 2008. Mayor Bloomberg acknowledges that he thinks he would be a good president, but that he still does not intend to run. Heilemann (through the likes of Doug Schoen and Mark McKinnon) also gives Kevin Sheekey his due props. Don't miss Heilemann's reporting on how Bloomberg and Unity '08 could potentially find common purpose -- not a small thing in terms of ballot access for the billionaire. LINK

6. In a story that makes clear he hasn't ruled out a vice presidential bid, the Wall Street Journal's Chris Cooper reports that while Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) "has been vague about his own plans, there are few secrets about where his sympathies lie for 2008. Two of his chief political operatives have allied themselves with Republican Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, who is considering a presidential bid."

7. Cindy Adams is into the Gore thing. LINK

As for today's events, President Bush meets with the lead of the Supreme Council for the Islamci Revolution in Iraq at 1:15 pm ET at the White House. The Fox News Channel broadcasts a Brit Hume interview with President Bush at 6:00 pm ET. At 10:30 am ET, the President and First Lady participate in children's holiday reception and performance. First Lady Laura Bush speaks at the launch of the Partnership of the U.S. Afghan Women's Council and Georgetown University at 11:45 am ET.

Fresh from announcing on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" that he is forming a presidential exploratory committee, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) is scheduled to make his twelfth in-cycle visit to Iowa today. He speaks at the Greater Des Moines Partnership's Luncheon at 11:30 am ET then attends the All America PAC Meet and Greet at 6:00 pm ET in Des Moines, IA.

Former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) signs copies of his new book, "HOME: The Blueprints of Our Lives," at Vroman's Bookstore, All Saints Church, Pasadena, CA at 7:00 pm ET.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) speaks at a "Kids In Distressed Situation" benefit at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel at 7:40 pm ET in New York, NY.

Continuing his announcement tour, Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) visits Washington, DC.

Former President Bill Clinton attends a CHAI/UNITAID Memorandum of Understanding Signing and then a Tour of Maryknoll Orphanage, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Timed with today's 10:00 am ET oral argument in Parents Involved v. Seattle School District No. 1, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) participated in a rally organized by NOW, the NAACP, and the Rainbow Push Coalition outside the Supreme Court at 8:30 am ET in Washington, DC.

Roll Call reports that the Utah Legislature is set to meet in a special session today to approve a new congressional map that would divide the state into four districts (as opposed to the current three), setting the stage for potential movement of legislation that would grant the District of Columbia a full-voting seat in the House.

The Center for American Progress hosts a discussion on "State Progress: A Discussion on Progressive State Victories in the Midterm Elections" at 2:00 pm ET at CAP in Washington, DC.

Hawaii inaugurates its newly re-elected governor, Linda Lingle at the State Capitol in Honolulu, HI at 5:00 pm ET.

Clinton's decision making:

On "Good Morning America," ABC News' Kate Snow reported that Sen. Clinton is meeting with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and other New York Democrats discussing her prospects of a 2008 White House run and that "maybe, just maybe we might have a woman trying to run for president."

The New York Daily News' Lucadamo and McAuliff write, "Sources reaffirmed to the Daily News that Clinton will announce in a month or so that she is forming an official presidential exploratory committee - a nearly sure sign she will run in 2008." LINK

(Note that outgoing New York State Democratic Committee Chairman Denny Farrell seems to think Sen. Clinton has already made her decision.)

The Washington Times gets Terry McAuliffe's plans for the next two years: "Diving in with Hillary." LINK

The New York Post includes Sen. Schumer's thoughts that "everyone's sort of jumping the gun." LINK

USA Today's Jill Lawrence on the Clinton camp interviewing staffers for the expected presidential bid. LINK

Sen. Clinton began talking with New York lawmakers last week about her presidential prospects, Notes Beth Fouhy of the Associated Press. LINK

Bayh forms presidential exploratory committee:

While appearing Sunday on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) announced that he is forming a presidential exploratory committee.

Sen. Bayh said the American people "need someone who can deal with the dysunction here in this city so that our government begins to empower our people to fulfill their potential," adding: "If I can be that individual, so be it."

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza reports that Sen. Bayh will host a meeting of his top financial backers in Washington "later this month." Cillizza also reports that he is interviewing media consultants. Anita Dunn, Bayh's longtime media adviser, "will not play that role should he run for president but will remain a senior strategist for the campaign." LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Walter F. Roche Jr. reports that Bayh is "well behind" Clinton and Obama in name recognition. LINK


In Saturday's Los Angeles Times, Michael Finnegan reported that Sen. Obama told more than 2,000 evangelical leaders in Orange County that he "respectfully but unequivocally" disagrees with those who oppose condom distribution to fight the AIDS pandemic while adding that the relationship between sexuality and spirituality "has broken down, and needs to be repaired." LINK

(Note to Sen. Obama, re: your Leno appearance: Is that REALLY your best telling of the Dijon joke?)

In his column, Clay Harris of the Financial Times includes Geraldine Ferraro's musings on the 2008 presidential contest. She predicted Hillary Clinton would be at the top of the Democratic ticket (it's "much too early" for Obama, she says) with Gov. Vilsack, Gov. Rendell, or Sen. Bayh as her running mate. On Rudy Giuliani she is quoted saying, "He's kidding himself if he thinks he's going somewhere." As for Sen. McCain, who she expects to be the GOP nominee, she said she has urged him to pick her friend Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) as his running mate. LINK

2008: Republicans:

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) is expected to file a presidential "exploratory" committee with the FEC as early as today.

Newsweek's Holly Bailey looks at Sen. McCain's call for additional troops in Iraq and wonders if it will be a help or a hindrance to his potential presidential campaign. LINK

The Washington Post's George Will remembers that Sen. McCain recently told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos that "it would be 'immoral' to keep asking the same number of troops 'to risk life and limb so that we might delay our defeat for a few months or a year.'" LINK

Joel Connelly writes in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that Sen. McCain is moving himself farther to the right this year and even taking on some former Bush campaign veterans now that "McCain's guru, John Weaver, has buried the hatchet with Bush's political brain, Karl Rove." LINK

Kimberly Atkins of the Boston Herald reports that Gov. Romney is heading to Asia to "immerse" himself in a "self designed" foreign policy venture. LINK

The Boston Globe over the weekend had the detailed Romney Asia schedule. LINK

The Globe also kept up on the Romney immigration front. LINK

Vilsack tours:

While in New Hampshire on Friday, Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) dismissed Sen. McCain's call for more U.S. troops in Iraq, saying it would be wrong to "make a big mistake bigger." LINK

Over 100 people attended a reception for Vilsack at Stonyfield Yogurt's Gary Hirschberg's house on Friday. Guests included Governor Lynch, Carol Shea-Porter and Paul Hodes, the three Democratic Executive Councilors, Senate President Sylvia Larson, House Speaker Terie Norelli, other state senators and state representatives, and activists including Mary and John Rauh and Arnie Arnesen. Hirschberg introduced Vilsack by saying 'the season is upon us and I'm finished with my shopping' and explained why he was supporting him.

David McGrath Schwartz of the Las Vegas Review Journal reports that Gov. Vilsack focused on his renewable energy policy and the Iraq war during his speech at the University of Nevada. LINK

J. Patrick Coolican of the Las Vegas Sun writes that if Gov. Vilsack's candidacy makes the Iowa caucuses less competitive, "the Silver State becomes that much more important in the presidential race." LINK

The Des Moines Register on Gov. Vilsack's Nevada trip. LINK

The Des Moines Register on Gov. Vilsack's much talked about past and its role in his campaigning. LINK

The paper also reports that the presidential hopeful expects to raise over one million dollars before the end of the year. LINK

Pennsylvania native Vilsack waxed nostalgic in his boyhood hometown near Pittsburgh over the weekend, writes James O'Toole in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette profile. LINK

Daschle bows out:

Tom Daschle, the former Senate Democratic Leader, told KELO (an independent TV affiliate in South Dakota) on Saturday that he will not run for president in 2008. Daschle spent time in the Iowa and New Hampshire over the past year to gauge public support for a possible run. He says several factors played into his decision, including the daunting task of raising the estimated $50 million needed for a presidential race. LINK

2008: Democrats:

The New York Sun's Josh Gerstein reports that John Edwards "warned that civilization itself might unravel if America cannot recover its moral position. 'I don't believe it's too much to say the future of the world is at stake. I do. I believe that,' he said." LINK

Note that Edwards said McCain-Feingold, which he supported while in the Senate, has proved to be a failure. "'If it's had any effect, I can't tell it,' he said. The former Senator said he now supports public financing for all political campaigns."

Politics of Iraq:

On Sunday, Michael Gordon and David Cloud of the New York Times published a must-read story based on a leaked memo by outgoing SECDEF Donald Rumsfeld (written just days before Rumsfeld resigned) to President Bush calling for "a major course correction" in Iraq. LINK

You can read the memo here: LINK

In his Monday news analysis, David Sanger of the New York Times asks the "will Bush listen" question and seems to see some hints that he may not. LINK

Keying off of Stephen Hadley's interview on "This Week," the Washington Post's Chuck Babington reports that President Bush is "sorting through an array of options" on Iraq, "including a partial withdrawal of U.S. troops from violence-plagued cities and a redeployment near Iraq's borders with Iran and Syria." LINK

In his "Political Punch" blog, ABC News' Jake Tapper wonders whether a Democrat would have been criticized as being a "defeatist, an appeaser, a terrorist-coddler" if he or she had said before the election that it is "time for a major adjustment" in Iraq because "clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough." LINK

Bob Novak on President Bush's Iraq dilemma and GOP state officials and party leaders crying that the Republican Party cannot go into the 2008 campaign with troops fighting in Iraq. LINK

The Washington Post's Walter Pincus looks at those House Democrats that initially opposed the war in Iraq and will now take over as chairmen of the Appropriations, Armed Services, Budget, and Judiciary committees. LINK

Newsweek's cover package on the upcoming Iraq Study Group report which may produce something less dramatic than last week's leaks suggested. LINK

Miami plays host to some bummed out Republican governors, including Barbour and Perry, who see the shrinking number of Republican governor's across the country as directly linked to the war in Iraq, the Washington Times reports. LINK

GOP agenda:

Roll Call reports that "incoming Senate Republican leaders will hold an unusual two-day retreat this week to assess the Nov. 7 outcome and to begin crafting a battle plan for the newly minted minority."

The (planned) final week of the lame duck 109th Congress will not see the rest of the spending bills passed, but it will attempt to expand offshore oil drilling and the likely confirmation of a new Secretary of Defense. Carl Hulse of the New York Times previews the work week on the Hill. LINK

Democratic agenda:

The Democratic Party faces pressures to live up to the demands of voters in 2006 while also looking towards 2008. DNC chair Howard Dean speaks on those political points to the Associated Press and specifically Notes that the 2006 election results were not a "mandate" of the American people. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

David Lightman of the Hartford Courant writes that due to mainly political problems, more than likely Congress won't pass a budget before Christmas. LINK

Bush Administration agenda:

The White House is ramping up it's efforts on energy policy, even considering cutting tariffs on imported ethanol, amid the shift in power on Capitol Hill, reports John McKinnon and Deborah Solomon of the Wall Street Journal.

The New York Times' Barringer reports that President Bush may clear the path for expanded oil drilling in the waters off Southwestern Alaska. LINK

New Hampshire:

The Union Leader reports on the settlement reached in New Hampshire's phone jamming controversy and the role it played in the mid-term elections. LINK

The AP on the same: LINK

Political potpourri:

Ben Smith of the New York Daily News dedicates his column to championing New York Democrats "secret weapon" -- press secretary Blake Zeff. LINK

The week ahead:

On Tuesday, speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Democrats will hold a forum to discuss the war in Iraq. ABC's George Stephanopoulos is the featured guest lecturer at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, AR. ABC's Jan Greenberg moderates a discussion with Supreme Court Justices Breyer and Scalia. Former President Bill Clinton attends a CHAI Event in Angkor, Cambodia. The Urban Institute hosts a discussion "The New Congress and the Budget: Perspectives from Three Former Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Directors". David Kunset, former Clinton White House speechwriter participates in the Economic Policy Institute's briefing on a new report, "Talking Past Each Other: What Everyday Americans Really Think (and Elites Don't get) About the Economy". The White House Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board holds its first public meeting. The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research holds a discussion with Arthur Brooks, author of "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism" at 5:00 pm ET. ABC News' Mark Halperin speaks at New Hampshire's St. Anselm College's Institute of Politics at 7:00 pm ET LINK

On Wednesday, the Iraq Study Group releases their report. Mark Halperin speaks at the Politics and Eggs: 2006 Issues Forum in Bedford, NH and, later in the day, at the Dole Institute in Lawrence, KS LINK

. The Democratic Governor's Association holds its annual holiday reception at the Capital Hilton at 5:45 pm ET. Former President Bill Clinton attends an afternoon Clinic Tour of National Pediatric Hospital and a CHAI/UNITAID Memorandum of Understanding Signing in Hanoi, Vietnam.

On Thursday, President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush attend the lighting of the National Christmas Tree and the Opening Ceremony of the Christmas Pageant of Peace at 5:00 pm ET at the Ellipse, south of the White House. The National Park Service holds a wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the attack on Perl Harbor at the Navy Memorial at 1:00 pm ET. Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC) participates in a news conference on "Politics and Investing in Russia's Regions: Opportunities Beyond Moscow." At 1:00 pm ET at the National Press Club. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) speaks on "The Role of the Senate in U.S. Foreign Policy" at 5:00 pm ET. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow speaks at the Greater Washington Board of Trade's annual meeting at 12:00 pm ET.

On Friday, President Bush meets with President Thabo Mbeki of the Republic of South Africa, Washington, DC. Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) is scheduled to give the noon ET keynote address for the Center for American Progress's "Economic and Policy Implications of the Housing Bubble," Washington, DC. Real estate mogul R.C. Tolbert hosts an inaugural gala honoring Senator-elect Jim Webb (D-VA), Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and others.

On Saturday, Louisiana's 2nd district holds its runoff election between Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) and state Rep. Karen Carter (D-LA).

On Sunday, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) makes his first trip to New Hampshire for a New Hampshire Democratic Party event.