The Only Poll That Matters

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12

The safest bet you can make over a little mooshu at the Peking Gourmet in Falls Church tonight is that Sunday show anchors galore will be, uhm, skeptical about the efficacy of the Bush Iraq plan -- a posture that will be shared by many of their guests.

And/but, as we do every Friday, here's your clip-and-use for Saturday's Georgetown cocktail parties about the week-that-was-and-the-week-that-will-be in the Three Rings that will continue to run our lives for quite awhile:

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Ring 1, Iraq: The President, without majority public, commentator, or congressional support, plans to put more troops into Iraq. Democrats are moving inexorably towards precipitating a constitutional clash by trying to stop him. The ball is moving inexorably back to the President's court, at which point those betting on Mr. Bush to back down should check the clip file.

Ring 2, other legislative business: : Democrats in the House have started to move legislation that will, if successfully conferenced with the Senate, produce substantive AND political victories (if the President signs them into law); political victories (if the President successfully vetoes them); or mega substantive AND political victories (if presidential vetoes are overridden). On three of the biggest questions about the new majority, we have partial answers: a new reality of bipartisan comity with the White House? (nah); surprising PR, tactical, and strategic competance by the Democrats? (so far); plans to channel Dave Bossie and investigate the bejesus out of the Bush Administration? (tbd).

Ring 3, 2008: : McCain -- your surge and welcome to it; Romney -- you'll impress us with the next 6 million, but you already impressed us with the timely delivery of the best-available-answer on your past liberal views; Obama -- please don't ruin our Martin Luther King holiday (week) by making us rush into the office.

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At this morning's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace, Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) announced that Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Evan Bayh (D-IN) would not be attending, because they are headed to Iraq and Afghanistan this weekend.

President Bush spends his morning in Washington and then departs via Marine One to Camp David with the First Lady at 2:00 pm ET. He is taping the third and final part of his "60 Minutes" interview that airs this Sunday, in which POTUS and Texan interview Pelley will do everything but snap the towels.

One day after meeting intense skepticism on Capitol Hill, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice departs Andrews Air Force Base for the Middle East and Europe at 7:00 pm ET.

As part of the new majority's 100 Hours Agenda, the House meets to consider legislation which would amend the Medicare drug benefit to allow the government to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices. Meanwhile, the Senate reconvenes at 9:30 am ET and resumes consideration of an ethics and lobbying overhaul bill. The chamber will proceed to a vote on an amendment offered by Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass, at 9:50 a.m.

Former Sen. George McGovern (D-SD) discusses his plan for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq at a National Press Club luncheon at 1:00 pm ET. Earlier in the day, he meets with the Progressive Caucus.

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