Micro-managing the Way(s) Forward


From the second floor of Lauriol Plaza, to the Waterfront Café in Boston, to the cablers' assignment desks, to the mind of Brit Hume, to even (read: "especially") the palatial, high-tech offices of The Note: everything is in suspended animation until midweek, when President Bush delivers his long-awaited, sort-of-delayed speech on a new plan for Iraq.

Expected Wednesday (or Thursday), the nationally televised talk will determine the future of everything.

We could make informed guesses about what the President will say; about the likelihood that the broadcast networks will give the Democrats live time to respond; about what Democrats not named "Lieberman" will have to say about the plan; about the obvious body language that Republicans who "support" the surge-with-benchmarks will display; about the Old Media's relative interest in Republicans who "support" the President compared to those heretics who do not; and about what the first wave of public opinion polls will say about adding tens of thousands of troops and hundreds of millions of dollars to Iraq.

In fact, almost anyone reading these words could make the same informed guesses -- whether their name is "Dan Bartlett," "Bill Kristol," "Paul Krugman," "Mark Salter," "Don Imus," or "Blogger R."

But why ruin the political week by giving it all away on a Monday?

In yet another sign that their shared relationship with reality is closer than had previously been thought, Democrats who had hoped to focus on their domestic agenda in the opening weeks of Congress have concluded that Iraq will get top billing (to say the least) for awhile, and they plan on aggressively confronting Bush Administration officials this week on Topic A, while still voting (except during big football days) on their non-Iraq agenda.

Read all about the strategizing in this must-read story by the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman. LINK

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) unveils his plan to end the Iraq war in a 10:00 am ET speech in New York City. When Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) speaks at the National Press Club tomorrow, he's going to call for action on Iraq before the surge can begin. And unlike Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), Kennedy believes Congress does have the power to stop any surge.

In advance of the floor debate tomorrow, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 9/11 commissioners Lee Hamilton and Tim Roemer, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), and Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) hold a 2:15 pm ET press availability on the implementation of the 9/11 commission recommendations today at 2:15 p.m.

Today is the fifth anniversary of the No Child Left Behind Act. President Bush meets with House and Senate leaders from both parties at 1:20 pm ET to discuss his signature education initiative.

Also marking the occasion, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings addresses the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at 10:00 am ET in Washington, DC, while Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) delivers an address on education at the Center for American Progress at 10:00 am ET in Washington, DC.

Prior to his education-related meeting, President Bush meets with the president of the European Commission at 11:10 am ET.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) unveils his health-care plan today at 2:00 pm ET in Sacramento, CA, as USA Today takes a front page look at steps states are taking to expand health-care coverage. LINK

Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) was expected to open his daylong national fundraising event dubbed "National Call Day" with short remarks at 8:45 am ET.

On the congressional ethics front, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) appears in the Senate Press Gallery at 12:30 pm ET with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) spoke to the Rev. Jesse Jackson's 10th Annual Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Economic Summit this morning at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers in New York, NY.

ABC News' Ursula Fahy reports that Sen. Clinton said the now-powerful Democrats "have a lot of work ahead of them and the need for businesses to find ways to create jobs. She talked about universal healthcare, cleaning up the environment, finding partners in the private sector, and micro-lending. She never mentioned the President but said Democrats have been trying to pass minimum wage for years and now they can get to work."

Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack and First Lady Christie Vilsack get their official portraits today. The portraits will be unveiled at the State Historical Building at 11:15 am ET in Des Monies, IA.

The Republican Party of Iowa was hosting its Republican Legislative Kick Off Package Plan Breakfast with Iowa Republican leaders at 7:00 am ET.

The Senate reconvenes at 11:30 am ET and begins a period of morning business until noon. The chamber will then proceed to a vote on a resolution honoring former President Gerald Ford.

The Supreme Court meets to release orders and hear arguments at 10:00 am ET.

Politics of Iraq:

Question: is the White House at all in control of any of the leaks that have come out about what might be in the President's plan, or is this all just old-fashioned, pre-43-style leaking?

The New York Times' Gordon and Zeleny on the benchmarks the President is expected to put into place for Iraqis to meet as a part of his "new way forward." LINK

"The new American operational commander in Iraq said Sunday that even with the additional American troops likely to be deployed in Baghdad under President Bush's new war strategy it might take another 'two or three years' for American and Iraqi forces to gain the upper hand in the war," writes the New York Times John Burns in a lede graph that will likely give Democrats an additional talking point this week. LINK

According to Iraqi Health Ministry statistics, more than 17,000 Iraqi civilians and police officers died violently in the latter half of 2006, putting the total number of civilian deaths at 22, 950 for 2006, reports the Washington Post's Sudarsan Raghavan. LINK

Brian Knowlton of the New York Times wraps the Sunday talk show chatter on Iraq leading with Speaker Pelosi's promise to apply "the harshest scrutiny" to additional presidential spending requests for Iraq. LINK

The New York Post writes up Speaker Pelosi's "harshest scrutiny" line under a headline that reads, "Nancy Warbucks." LINK

The Boston Globe's Rick Klein LINK

The Los Angeles Times' on Speaker Pelosi's call for more congressional control over the war. LINK

New York Daily News on same: LINK

The New York Post's Friedman Notes Rep. Charlie Rangel's line about the jobs component of President Bush's "new way forward" in Iraq. LINK

At Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH gathering in New York City, Rangel described how "President Bush has finally realized that the best way to promote stability in the country is by increasing the number of jobs."

"'Not in Buffalo or Biloxi, but in Baghdad,' Rangel quipped."

Democratic agenda:

Weisman's look at Democratic plans to alter their "first 100 hours" agenda by dealing with the war in Iraq includes a dissenting voice from Democratic pollster Celnida Lake who says, "People are not looking to their individual members of Congress to solve the Iraq war. For the House to be focused on it now would look like partisan bickering rather than getting on with the people's business." LINK

Note the Emanuel transformation right within the confines of the piece!!

"Even as House lawmakers adopted the first-ever term limits for Democratic committee chairmen on Friday, several senior Democrats questioned the new constraints and suggested the matter will be reconsidered," reports Roll Call's Jennifer Yachnin.

Speaker Pelosi says repealing tax cuts for people making more than $500,000 is not off the taple, Notes the New York Post's Geoff Earle. LINK

The New York Daily News on same: LINK

Bush Administration agenda:

"Families earning more than $1 million a year saw their federal tax rates drop more sharply than any group in the country as a result of President Bush's tax cuts, according to a new Congressional study," writes the New York Times' Edmund Andrews, who Notes the report provides a little something for everyone. LINK

"The study, by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, also shows that tax rates for middle-income earners edged up in 2004, the most recent year for which data was available, while rates for people at the very top continued to decline."

Bob Novak reports that when Karl Rove recently appeared at Grover Norquist's weekly meeting of conservative activists on Wednesday he offered to bet anyone $5 that there would be no increase in the payroll tax base. But Bush, Novak writes, "has not unequivocally ruled out such a move, as he has any increase in the personal income tax." Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is described as "the source of most Republican apprehension." LINK

President Bush is under criticism from both the right and the left over what some are calling his Administration's broad use of anti-terrorism laws which wrongly label many asylum seekers as security threats. Darryl Fears of the Washington Post has the story. LINK

Leading Christian conservatives groups have joined forces to push President Bush and Democrats to agree on an immigration deal that would include strong border security, amnesty-like treatment for illegal immigrants already living in the U.S who are relatives of citizens, and an end to birthright citizenship, writes Charles Hunt of the Washington Times. LINK

2008: Republican:

In a story looking at Gingrich biding his time and conservative disappointment with McCain, Romney, and Giuliani, Time magazine's Karen Tumulty has Richard Land, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's policy arm, saying: "At this point, if there is a candidate out there that has a chance to come out of the weeds as the dark horse, it wouldn't surprise me at all if it was Governor Huckabee." Huckabee says "he senses that conservatives feel 'a need to coalesce around a person whose record matches his rhetoric.'" LINK

In their New York Post column, Dick Morris and Eileen McGann write of the search for a true social conservative in the 2008 GOP field -- something missing from the top-tier McCain, Giuliani, Romney, Gingrich candidacies, they write. In Sunday's Washington Post, Chris Cillizza and Shailagh Murray reported that John Weaver and Beth Myers, the lead political strategists for 2008 Republican aspirants John McCain and Mitt Romney, "met more than two decades ago in Texas while working on the gubernatorial campaign of Bill Clements. Both Weaver and Myers were deputy campaign managers in Clements's victory over Democratic Gov. Mark Wells White. Their boss? Karl Rove." LINK

2008: Republicans: McCain:

In an interview on "Political Capital with Al Hunt," Sen. McCain said he would judge any surge proposal based on the assessments of people such as retired Army General Jack Keane, who has called for at least 30,000 additional troops. "'If it's not sufficient in the view of experts such as Keane, 'then I cannot support it,' he said. Bloomberg's Ken Fireman has the story: LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Peter Wallsten writes about the 2008-Iraq nexis, with the focus on Sen. McCain. LINK

The AP's Liz Sidoti revisits Sen. McCain telling AEI, "I have presidential ambitions, but they pale in comparison to what I think is most important to our nation's security. If it destroys any ambitions I may have, I'm willing to pay that price gladly." LINK

2008: Republicans: Romney:

The Boston Globe's Scott Helman has former Gov. Romney addressing the shift in his political views by telling a gathering of influential Christian conservatives and GOP donors in Sea Island, GA: "Now, I wasn't always a Ronald Reagan conservative. Neither was Ronald Reagan, by the way." LINK

The Hartford Courant examines the Mormon factor. LINK

2008: Republicans: Brownback:

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) will declare his presidential candidacy on Saturday, Jan. 20 in Topeka, KS. Brownback, who is hoping to surprise his better-funded GOP rivals in the Iowa caucuses on the strength of his support among pro-life conservatives, has timed his announcement with the annual March for Life, which takes place in Washington, DC on Monday, Jan. 22. LINK

2008: Republicans: Hagel:

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter makes the case for Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) as a Republican critical of the Bush Administration's handling of Iraq. LINK

2008: Democrats:

In this week's New Yorker, Jeffrey Goldberg dissects the foreign-policy views of Clinton, Obama, and Edwards and concludes thusly: "Obama and Clinton appear thus far to the the Party's strongest potential candidates, and each brings strengths to the debate. Obama's foresight on Iraq may be one of his most potent weapons, just as Clinton's expertise, and essential centrism, will be an asset to her candidacy. For now, though, Edwards has something that the others lack: a position on Iraq that resonates best with the party." LINK

Ben Smith of the New York Daily News offers up classic Schumer in his final column for the tabloid before heading over to "Politico." LINK

"'If you're going to quote me on this, make sure you use the whole quote,' he began. 'I won't say a bad thing about Obama. I think he's intelligent and understands people.'"

"'Having said that, Hillary has lots of experience. She's seen how government works from both an executive and legislative perspective, and I think she'll be our strongest candidate as well as a really good President,' he said."

2008: Democrats: Clinton:

At Friday's Iraq war protest organized by MoveOn.org, ABC News' Teddy Davis spoke with four West Virginia women and learned that although they would "love" to see a female president, they were unanimous that the Democratic Party should not nominate Sen. Clinton in 2008. LINK

"Their principal reasons for opposing the former first lady are threefold: They resent her slow retreat from her 2002 vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq, they think she is 'too polarizing,' and they think that the centrist playbook that she and former President Clinton subscribe to undermines progressive causes."

2008: Democrats: Edwards:

In a story looking at "how much script in Edwards' 'clip'," the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz has former Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi warning against candidates secretly scripting YouTube moments: "If you get caught, you're dead." LINK

2008: Democrats: Obama:

Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak wrote a blog posting over the weekend on draftobama.org expressing his support for the movement.

"Count me in. . . I'm really excited about being part of the grassroots effort in Minnesota. . . a great example of citizens leading politicians. . . I'm in the middle of reading Barack Obama's book 'Audacity of Hope' right now and am struck by the stark difference with Obama's philosophy, which is to find every way possible to bring as many people together as possible." LINK

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) thinks Obama isn't ready, the Star-Bulletin reports. LINK

The National Review's Myrna Blyth sees "the Bill Factor" (Clinton that is) in Sen. Obama. LINK

2008: Democrats: Gore:

In Sunday's Washington Post, Chris Cillizza and Shailagh Murray had Chris Lehane calling Gore "the Rocky Balboa of 2008" while Carter Eskew said, "There are no secret meetings going on to plan the Gore campaign." LINK

In the on-line expansion of his Gore story, Cillizza has Lehane explaining that Gore understands that he makes it easier to confront the climate crisis by keeping 2008 talk alive while Eskew makes reference to how "infantilizing" the vice presidency is. An unnamed Democratic strategist tells Cillizza of Gore: "In many ways he is our strongest candidate. I never thought I would have said that a few years ago." LINK

2008: Democrats: Biden:

On his "Political Punch" blog, ABC News' Jake Tapper writes up Joe Biden's entrance (again) into the 2008 presidential race. LINK

"At the end of his appearance on NBC's Meet the Press this morning, incoming Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Sen. Joseph Robinette "Joe" Biden, Jr., Democrat of Delaware, declared he is running for president. . . "

"'. . . I am running for president,' the 64-year old senator said this morning. 'I will file for an exploratory committee before the month is out.'" Big-name rivals do not intimidate Biden, reports the Associated Press. LINK

2008: Democrats: Richardson:

Gov. Bill Richardson continues his work in Sudan, the AP reports. LINK

2008: Democrats: Clark:

In a Washington Post op-ed, Gen. Wesley Clark writes: "The odds are that this week President Bush will announce a "surge" of up to 20,000 additional U.S. troops into Iraq. Will this deliver a "win"? Probably not. But it will distract us from facing the deep-seated regional issues that must be resolved." LINK

2008: Democrats: Kucinich:

The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Sabrina Eaton reports that Kucinich will promote his second presidential run at the 10th annual Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Economic Summit, where he will also unveil his own plan to end the Iraq war. LINK

2008: Bloomberg:

Josh Gerstein of the New York Sun can't resist writing up the latest chapter in the bi-coastal Schwarzenegger-Bloomberg love-fest. Gerstein also follows Newsweek's reporting on the California governor's apparent desire to move the California presidential primary to the potentially relevant February from the irrelevant June. LINK

2008: Senate:

In Ben Smith's New York Daily News column, Sen. Schumer identifies Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) as the only outstanding Democratic incumbent not yet committed to running for reelection next year. The other 11 are on board, says Schumer. The DSCC chairman also identifies Sens. Allard (R-CO), Sununu (R-NH), and Coleman (R-MN) as his top three GOP incumbent targets for the cycle. LINK

New Democratic majority:

Robin Toner of the New York Times spent some time with Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) as he took a victory lap around the Capitol last week and writes up Rangel's apparent attempts to curb his tongue as he takes the gavel of the powerful Ways and Means Committee.LINK


Democrats will be in charge of the House and the Senate, as well as the governor's office, for the first time since 1965 when the Iowa Legislature's new session gets underway today, the Des Moines Register's Jonathan Roos reports. LINK

Literary corner:

The Charlotte News & Observer digs into Terry McAuliffe's new book to describe the "dissonance" between Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), with Edwards telling McAuliffe he wasn't visible enough during the campaign and Kerry admonishing Edwards for not attacking President Bush more forcefully. LINK


The New York Times' Kit Seelye goes inside the newsroom at "Politico" headquarters in Rosslyn, VA in advance of the January 23 launch. Note, too, Michael Kinsley's winning kicker quote of the day. LINK

Week ahead:

On Tuesday, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, holds a closed hearing entitled "Where We Are: The Current Situation in Iraq" at 9:30 am ET in Washington, DC. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee holds hearings on "Balancing Privacy and Security: The privacy Implications of Government Data Mining Programs beginning at 9:30 am ET in Washington, DC. Meanwhile, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee continues its hearings on Iraq.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appears before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the morning and then the House Foreign Relations Committee in the afternoon.

On Friday, the Senate Armed Services Committee will receive testimony on Iraq from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Join Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace in the Hart Senate Office Building at 9:30 am ET. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani attends the Third Annual Pete du Pont Individual Freedom Award Dinner at the Hotel DuPont Gold Ballroom Fundraiser for the Delaware GOP.

The outline for the Democrats' 100 Hours Agenda is as follows: on Tuesday, Democrats get things started on their 100 Hours Agenda by adopting rules changes affecting earmarks, ethics and lobbying. Then the House takes up legislation to implement the unfulfilled recommendations of the 9-11 Commission. Wednesday, the House will deal with an increase in the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour. Thursday, the House considers legislation to expand federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research. Friday, the House considers a bill that would allow the government to negotiate lower prices on prescription drugs for Medicare recipients.