The Note: "Grave and Deteriorating"

After meeting with the Iraq Study Group this morning at the White House, President Bush said its report gives "a very tough assessment of the situation in Iraq" and pledged to act in a timely fashion on its proposals. The President said his Administration will take every proposal seriously and urged Congress to do the same. He took no questions and none of the ISG members spoke.

ABC News' Jessica Yellin reports, "The President passed a copy of the report around the room and asked everyone to sign and date it. That copy will go to the National Archives."

Calling the Iraq war "the worst strategic mistake in the entire history of the United States" and "worse than a civil war," former Vice President Gore urged President Bush to find a way to get U.S. troops out of Iraq "as quickly as possible without making the situation worse" while appearing on network morning television.

"I would urge the President to try to separate out the personal issues of being blamed in history for his mistake and instead recognizing that it is not about him. It's about our country," Gore said.

Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball report that Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), Incoming Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has joined Sen. McCain in calling for an increase in U.S. troops in Iraq. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Alexandra Zavis and Solomon Moore report that few Iraqi politicians have put much investment in the Iraq Study Group or other reviews taking place in Washington, pressing on with their own strategy. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Paul Richter weighs in on the consequences of American troop withdrawal, citing various experts who believe that the biggest risk is not Al Qaeda but rather a broader regional conflict. LINK

David Broder concludes that the Baker/Hamilton Commission was a model for how Congress is supposed to work. LINK

Robert Gates for SECDEF:

The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously approved Robert Gates' nomination to become President Bush's new defense secretary, after a day-long confirmation hearing in which he said that a new approach is needed to avoid a "regional conflagration."

Kate Zernike of the New York Times writes up some of the more colorful moments from the hearing including a look at the three presidential hopefuls on the committee (and the one time presidential candidate who introduced the nominee). LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper writes that Robert Gate's nomination should soar through the Senate like a rocket. LINK

He made no promise to end the war in Iraq or bring the troops home, but he's not Donald Rumsfeld and that made the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee love him writes Dana Milbank of Washington Post. LINK

The Washington Post on Gates' likely confirmation: LINK

Democratic agenda:

A large group of liberal organizations is mounting an lobbying and public relations effort to sway lawmakers who may be on the fence about the Democrats "Hundred Hours" agenda to vote for it reports Jeffrey H. Birnbaum of the Washington Post. LINK

Rather than the usually Tuesday to Thursday operation of the 109th Congress, Democratic leaders announced, that the 110th Congress will have to work five days a week. LINK


Keying off the perceived success of the Baker/Hamilton Iraq Study Group, the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus urges Sen. Clinton and Sen. McCain to forge a partnership on Social Security. LINK

2008: Republicans:

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