The Note: What if Hillary Clinton Said "Jose"

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5

If you can't close your eyes and imagine exactly what Tony Snow and Joe Biden are going to say about both the Gates confirmation hearings and the Iraq Study Group report, you obviously haven't been paying attention.

(Not to mention what we will hear from victory lappers Congressman Murtha, Paul Krugman, and Frank Rich.)

And if you live in Iowa or New Hampshire and haven't got a call yet from Hillary Clinton to muse with her about what issues are important to children and families and about her decision making process, you might be paying attention, but you should reconsider your conception of yourself as a playa.

And/but no 2008 top-tier playa is going to be caught dead making anything even semi-official in the month of December. If you want to feel bad for someone, it shouldn't be the political reporters who have to babysit these serial strip teases, but the spouses and children in the McCain, Romney, Edwards, Obama, and Clinton households -- all of whom, it appears, are going to have to mix talk of family, presents, and turducken with Excel documents showing caucus votes needed, the cost of 30 seconds on Boston TV, and how one raises $1 million (plus) a week for six straight months starting by late January.

As Karen Hughes always says, The Note shouldn't be giving advice -- and we aren't. But consider this analysis (a/k/a: "Notebook unloading"):

1. The Arizona Republic will not do as much investigative work on "its" candidate as the Boston Globe will do on Mitt Romney.

2. Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama, as the latter said last night, really, truly, fully do like each other, as do their campaign-staffs-in-waiting. Contrast that with the pulsating negativity that courses between the McCain and Romney camps, with their prickly principals and aides du campe.

3. Any White House expectation that 43 can hold the spotlight deep into 2007 has gone from fantasy to delusion. (Or is it "delusion to fantasy"?)

4. Forget the phone calls to key early state activists and New York politicos: hiring Jonathan Mantz, Karen Hicks, and Phil Singer is not something someone not running for president does.

5. (With Zeleny gone), the Chicago Tribune will not do as much investigative work on "its" candidate as the Boston Globe will do on Mitt Romney.

6. Two years in the Senate ain't a lot of time.

7. Endangered species: Romney/Mormon stories without the words "Harry Reid."

8. Who was it again who said that senators can't get elected president?

9. One has to wonder how many different versions of response Axelrod and Gibbs have prepared to answer the "Where's the Beef?" line that you know is going to be coming out of Democratic third-tier land pretty soon.

10. With the Madden Primary and the Comstock Primary both going to Governor Romney, look for the largely free pass for Senator McCain to fade with the advent of the new year.

11. You know the varsity is on the field when you get a call warning you that you're going to see stories about Senator Clinton making calls.

12. Watch the crowd size at Obama's Manchester event on Sunday, with good enough SOTs and NATS to sustain until Monday's broadcast network morning shows.

13. The F.E.C. makes no distinction between an "exploratory" committee and a full-blown one, and we should all do the same thing.

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