The Note: New Verse, Same As the First


Friday is, for all Note readers, time to review our three rings -- week past and week future (and beyond):

Ring 1, Iraq: All the momentum in both parties continues to push towards opposition to the Bush plan, but there is only one commander-in-chief (not 536), and he is still in charge. Where this is headed, no one knows, but for clues for how far (and fast) Congress will go, watch closely the four Johns: Warner, Boehner, Edwards, and Murtha.

Ring 2, other legislative matters: Bush up (going for health, immigration, and environmentally "compromise" -- which will buy him a few moments of good press); Bush down (the Gang of 500 has never cared less about a SOTU, and Tony Snow claims it isn't even written yet!); Pelosi-Reid up (Six in '06 rocks in '07, and the Gang of 500 has never cared more about a SOTU pre-buttal); Reid-Pelosi down (Washington hath no fury like the Dingells scorned, the LAT/Bloomberg poll also says "only 25% of those surveyed believed Democrats have formulated a clear direction for the country; 58% said they had failed to.")

Ring 3, 2008: McCain up (keeps banking key endorsements); McCain down (no longer looks invincible for the general election); Clinton up (gets in the Iraq game); Clinton down (no one cheers for the frontrunner, and every loss stings); Romney up (Olive's party shows he remains the not-McCain leader); Romney down (Scot Lehigh's seminal, must-read, devastating Boston Globe column is like a bad penny LINK); Edwards up (jobless, anti-war candidate can continue to make Iowa inroads and drive Senate-bound rivals batty, while getting EJ Dionne wet kiss LINK and Los Angeles Times love on African-American Palmetto State support LINK); Edwards down (carelessness on the home buying front -- again!!! LINK); Giuliani up (more staff and money on board); Giuliani down (still too many non-believers); all other 2008 hopefuls down (the Big Six CW begins to occify); all other 2008 hopefuls up (hope springs eternal -- if you have $18 million by September).

While President Bush continues to practice his SOTU speech out of public view and heads to Camp David for the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) helpfully provide some sound on tape for those weekend curtain-raising stories as they offer that pre-buttal to the State of the Union at the National Press Club at 10:30 am ET in Washington, DC.

According to excerpts of his prepared remarks, Sen. Reid plans to address the President's decision to send additional troops to Iraq by saying, "The President's plan will receive an up-or-down vote in both chambers of Congress. It is the only way the American people can have their voice heard. Our hope. . . is that the President will hear the bipartisan chorus opposing escalation, and work with Democrats to find a new course."

"For over a year, Democrats have been proposing a better plan for Iraq - a plan based on what is in the best interest of our country both now and the future. A plan largely endorsed by the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group. The Democratic plan can be boiled down to three parts: change the military mission, redeploy the troops, and make Iraq's neighbors part of the solution.

And be sure you don't miss Sen. Reid's warning on Iran. "This morning, I'd like to be clear: The President does not have the authority to launch military action in Iran without first seeking Congressional authorization," Reid plans to say. You can read more on ABC News' Political Radar. LINK

The Republican National Committee continues its annual winter meeting today and tomorrow, with outgoing RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman presiding over the election of new RNC officers at 10:15 am ET, followed by a 12:30 pm ET media availability with those newly elected officers (likely to be Mike Duncan and Sen. Martinez), before Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivers luncheon remarks at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, DC. The meeting concludes with White House Press Secretary Tony Snow's breakfast remarks on Saturday, January 20 at 8:30 am ET. (Don't miss Ralph Z. Hallow's Washington Times story about a push for a secret ballot. LINK

) Sen. McConnell is expected to say that the Senate "got off on the right foot with the lobby reform bill. . . The bill isn't perfect, but it goes a long way toward showing that the Republican Party will hold itself to the highest standards."

"Immigration, Social Security, healthcare, education, energy independence -- we can pass meaningful reforms in all these areas, and we can do it with divided government. Cooperation, as I've said, does not mean capitulation. But failing to find solutions on pressing issues like these does contradict the spirit of our party, and it further jeopardizes our being the party of reform," McConnell is expected to add, according to his prepared remarks.

As Republicans continue to recommit themselves to reform, former Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) is scheduled to be sentenced at 9:30 am ET in Washington, DC for his role in the Jack Abramoff scandal. Last October, Ney pleaded guilty to conspiracy and making false statements for trading official actions for trips, sports tickets, meals and campaign donations from Abramoff.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is expected to preside over the Senate at 9:15 am ET and then attend a joint HELP/Appropriations Committee hearing on stem cell research at 11:10 am ET.

The House meets to consider legislation to deny pensions for former members of Congress convicted of felonies, as well as legislation to overhaul the Congressional Page Board, at 10:00 am ET.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee hears from former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-IN), co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group, and former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger on recommendations for Iraq policy at 10:00 am ET.

Members of the Democratic Party's conservative Blue Dog Coalition hold a press conference on the Iraq war at 11:30 am ET at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, featuring Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA), Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), Rep. John Tanner (D-TN), Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), Rep. Jim Marshall (D-GA), Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR), Rep. Allen Boyd (D-FL), Rep. Dennis Moore (D-KS), and Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D-SD).

The Blue Dogs plan to unveil a resolution tomorrow to deal with "fiscal responsibility and accountability" for the Iraq war.

Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) delivers the first ever Spanish language Democratic preview address on the "State of Our Union" at 1:00 pm ET in the Capitol. The Senator will be available for questions after the speech.

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) holds a rally with Connecticut supporters before his weekend visit to New Hampshire starting at 5:30 pm ET at the Old State House in Hartford, CT.

Following his swing through Washington, DC on the outskirts of the RNC winter meeting, Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) meets with New Jersey supporters in East Brunswick, NJ.

Tomorrow, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) officially announces his presidential candidacy in Topeka, KS and then makes that first crucial campaign stop on Sunday by sitting down with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on "This Week." LINK

Gov. Tommy Thompson (R-WI) spends the day in Omaha, NE where he gives remarks on a healthcare cost estimation tool, conducts private meetings, and attends fundraising dinners and receptions.

Tomorrow, Gov. Thompson is back in Iowa here he delivers a speech to Republican women in Des Moines and keynotes a fundraiser in Cedar Rapids.

Former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) holds a town hall meeting to discuss the "troop escalation" in Iraq at 2:00 pm ET at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA.

On Saturday, Sen. Chris Dodd has a very busy day campaigning in New Hampshire. He has breakfast at 9:00 am ET with Democratic Activists at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nashua. Then, he hosts a "Coffee with Chris" at the home of Skip and Susan Hebert in Hooksett, NH. Later, he attends a town hall meeting at the Bell Center for Music and the Arts in Dover, NH. Then, he attends a meet and greet at Lazy Lion Café in Deerfield, NH. Finally, he attends the Senate District 7 celebration at Daniel's Restaurant & Pub in Henniker, NH.

On Sunday, Sen. Chris Dodd continues his Granite State weekend, attending a meeting with Charlestown activists at the home of Cynthia Sweeney in Charlestown, NH. Then, he delivers a speech at Dartmouth College's Rockefeller Center at 1:00 pm ET in Hanover, NH. Finally, he attends a house party at the home of State Sen. Peter Burling in Cornish, NH at 3:00 pm ET.

C-SPAN's new "Campaign Bus" heads to Des Moines, IA for a live "Road to the White House" Sunday at 6:30 pm ET with the incomparable David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register.

Politics of Iraq:

Time's Karen Tumulty reports many Republicans and Democrats in Congress are uniting in their opposition to President Bush's handling of Iraq -- and next week's non-binding bipartisan vote could lead to Congress restricting war supplemental money. LINK

Per the Associated Press, Pentagon officials said Thursday that the Bush Administration "will abandon the practice of financing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through emergency spending requests that have relatively little supporting detail." LINK

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said yesterday that House Democrats will support a Senate resolution denouncing President Bush's proposal to increase the number of troops in Iraq, reports the Washington Times' Charles Hurt. LINK

"Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam of Florida wrote in a letter yesterday to colleagues. 'As Democrats continue to debate over which course of cut-and-run they should support, House Republicans are categorically united behind four guiding principles.' Included in their list of principles is that 'there is only one commander in chief,' 'failure in Iraq is not an option,' and 'we are opposed to cutting off funding for our troops.'"

Pelosi politics:

In an exclusive interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated that the Congress would not be cutting any funding for the US troops in Iraq, saying, "The president knows that because the troops are in harm's way, that we won't cut off the resources. That's why he's moving so quickly to put them in harm's way."

Check out the link for an interview excerpt. LINK

Bloomberg's Heidi Przybyla on Pelosi forming a more positive impression than Gingrich at the start of her tenure as Speaker. LINK

Democratic agenda:

In a piece looking at Pelosi's interest in creating a new Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, the Washington Post's Steve Mufson Notes that Pelosi "needs a majority vote of the House to create the new committee, and congressional sources said there was talk yesterday of unhappy Democrats joining with Republicans to quash her proposal." LINK

Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee who would have oversight of global warming if the new panel is not created, held a two-hour meeting with Democrats on his committee to discuss Pelosi's initiative.

"'It is unclear what this committee will do besides serve as a distraction to the substantive work already being done by the committee of expertise on this issue,' Dingell said later."

Bloomberg's Laura Litvan puts Pelosi's tussle with Dingell in a broader context. LINK

A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll reveals that the Americans do not seem to think that Democrats have formulated a clear direction for the country, even though a large number of respondents approve of their 100 hour legislative items. Janet Hook has the story. LINK

Though somewhat overshadowed by the debate over the president's increase in troop levels, the Democratic House completed its promised "first 100 hours" of legislative work with the passage of their energy bill, ABC News' Jake Tapper reports. The President waits with his veto pen in hand. LINK

Check out Tapper's Webcast feature offering a report card of sorts on the Democrats "Six for '06" agenda. LINK

"Senate Democrats and Republicans broke a difficult stalemate last night and approved 96 to 2 expansive legislation to curtail the influence of lobbyists, tighten congressional ethics rules and prevent the spouses of senators from lobbying senators and their staffs," reports the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman and Jeffrey Birnbaum. LINK

In the New York Times' look at the Senate bill that overhauls ethics rules, David Kirkpatrick writes that the Senate's action "makes the start of the 110th Congress a watershed moment in the history of K Street and Capitol Hill." LINK


Without much substance to work with, David Jackson of USA Today previews the atmospherics surrounding President's State of the Union address. LINK

Bush Administration agenda/personality:

The New York Times' Thom Shanker sees President Bush's move sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the Middle East to restart talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis as a sign Mr. Bush is thinking about his legacy. Read his news analysis here. LINK

Under questioning from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and others, "Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales acknowledged yesterday that some U.S. attorneys have been asked to resign their posts in recent weeks because of performance issues, but he denied any political motives and vowed to quickly submit new nominees for the jobs to the Senate for confirmation." LINK

The Los Angeles Times team of Schmitt, Miller, and Savage write that the Bush Administration's refusal "to provide details to Congress of how a new court-review process for terror-related wiretaps would work, [triggered] a fresh round of complaints and suspicions from Democrats about what the administration was doing." LINK

Believing that President Bush has been kept from "political free fall" by the fact that the United States has suffered no terrorist attacks since 2001, the Wall Street Journal's ed board slams the Bush Administration for what it calls Bush's "wiretap surrender."

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke warned the Senate Budget Committee that rising health-care and Social Security spending could create a "vicious cycle" of rising debt and interest payments and an eventual fiscal crisis, reports the Wall Street Journal's Greg Ip.

Chief White House Usher Gary Walters is retiring at the end of January. In an interview with C-SPAN's Brian Lamb that will air Sunday evening, Walters offered his reflections on the presidents and first ladies he has served. Some excerpts from the Washington Post: LINK

Republican National Committee:

John M. Broder of the New York Times writes that departing chairman Ken Mehlman's words at the RNC's winter meeting were a warning that the GOP would "suffer even more devastating losses in 2008 than it did in 2006 if it did not reach out to minorities and address voter concerns over ethics." LINK

You can read more on ABC News' Political Radar. LINK

As the Republican Party struggles to repair itself, Tamara Lytle of the Orlando Sentinel looks at the unenviable challenges facing incoming Republican National Committee General Chairman Sen. Mel Martinez. Striking a hopeful Note about the state of the party, GOP pollster Ed Goeas said "The Republican Party is like a beaten-down stock that's a good buy." &LINK

2008: Democrats:

Time's Joe Klein -- like music to Gov. Bill Richardson's ears -- writes, "The Democratic Party is being reborn" in the Rocky Mountains, attracting independents and moderate Republicans with straight-shooting, colorful candidates -- and top-line '08 contenders like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama should be taking a page from their playbooks. LINK

Jake Tapper and Avery Miller of ABC News report on the flurry of resolutions, statements, and press releases coming from the Senate's rivals for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. ABC News' Cokie Roberts said of all the activity, "These candidates are so aware of what each other is doing that it's almost eerie, and they are constantly watching, constantly trying to get the edge." LINK

Using a South Carolina black minister's description of Sen. Obama as a "stranger" and Sen. Edwards as his "homeboy" to make his point, Peter Wallsten of the Los Angeles Times writes that despite his strong ties (and his obvious connection) to the black community, Sen. Obama will still have to fight for black votes because Sens. Clinton and Edwards are quite popular among African Americans. LINK

2008: Democrats: Edwards:

The Washington Post's John Solomon and Lois Romano report that John Edwards recently sold his $5.2 million Georgetown home to Paul and Terry Klaassen, the wealthy founders of the nation's largest assisted-living housing chain for seniors. The Klaassens are "currently cooperating with a government inquiry in connection with accounting practices and stock options exercised by them and other company insiders. They are also the focus of legal complaints by some of the same labor unions whose support Edwards has been assiduously courting for his presidential bid." LINK

When Edwards sold his home, "the names of the buyers were not publicly disclosed. "At the time, Edwards's spokeswoman told reporters that the house had been sold to an unidentified corporation. In reality, the buyers were Paul and Terry Klaassen, according to several sources and confirmed by Edwards's spokeswoman yesterday."

Edwards aide Jennifer Palmieri told the Post that the former Senator "had not delved into the Klaassens' background: 'They left it to be done at arm's length, real estate agent to real estate agent.'"

The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne salutes John Edwards for saying that he is "prepared to disappoint voters who make a balanced budget their top priority" since "health coverage and 'transforming the energy economy of this country' are first on his to-do list." LINK

2008: Democrats: Clinton:

William Kristol writes in Time magazine that Sen. Clinton will spend the most of the next year navigating between being too moderate on the Iraq war for an antiwar nomination electorate, and going so far to the left as to mollify the electorate -- predicting her campaign will fail like Ed Muskie in '72 and John Kerry in '04 -- Democratic candidates with somewhat murky war positions. LINK

Josh Gerstein of the New York Sun takes a look at Democrats who served in the Clinton Administration who are choosing candidates other than Sen. Clinton to support in the presidential race. No big surprises here and no trend of mass anti-Clinton defections -- Gerstein basically has the story backward. LINK

The New York Post's Maggie Haberman writes about that phone call from Sen. Obama to top Empire State Clinton supporter Carl McCall. LINK

2008: Democrats: Obama:

"Obama Plays 'Me, Too' Politics on Troop Cap," reports ABC News' Teddy Davis. LINK

The AP has Sen. Obama answering constituents' questions and eclipsing his top cheerleader, Sen. Durbin. LINK

On reconnaissance in Des Moines, IA, ABC News' John Cochran collects the thoughts of Hawkeye State residents on Sen. Obama's candidacy. Though they seem to feel they have a lot more to learn about Sen. Obama, his image is a positive one, though one resident did warn that his popularity with young people could be harmful "if he comes off as Mr. Cool." LINK

Cathleen Falsani of the Chicago Sun Times focuses on Sen. Obama's apparent difficulty defining his religion. LINK

Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun Times explores Obama's Hollywood connections and his shoring up home state congressional support. LINK

Mary Anne Ostrom of the San Jose Mercury News reports on the enthusiasm for Sen. Obama in Silicon Valley, including the forming of a Valley-based PAC, "Obama For America". LINK

The New York Daily News' Michael McAuliff and Ken Bazinet pay way too much attention to the fact that Sen. Obama is leading the Democratic field in a new Zogby poll in New Hampshire. LINK

Susan Ager of the Detroit Free Press examines the advantages of Sen. Obama's "global heritage," saying "In contrast, John Edwards looks like a parochial WASP. Hillary Clinton looks like a has-been. Everyone else looks like dry white bread." LINK

2008: Democrats: Obama vs. Clinton:

Howard Fineman takes a different kind of look at the battle for the Democratic nomination mostly through the Clinton v. Obama prism and compares this race to high school. One candidate would be the preppy, straight-A student and the other would be the student who everyone wanted to be around. (We'll let you figure out which is which.) LINK

Mike Dorning and Christi Parsons of the Chicago Tribune focus in on the 2008 race and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, writing, "Of all the positions he has assumed in political wars, one rarely associated with the combative Emanuel is this: fetal. Yet that is where he finds himself when it comes to his preferred candidate in the 2008 presidential race." LINK

2008: Democrats: Kerry:

The AP has more on Sen. Kerry's call for an inquiry and focus into the Defense Departments surplus sale operations after the Associated Press reported some "military gear" was being sold off to China and Iran. LINK

2008: Democrats: Vilsack:

The Des Moines Register reports on the taxpayers-funded booklets touting Gov. Vilsack's legacy and experience. The Register lays it out in glossy, multi-page detail. LINK

New Hampshire:

Sen. John Sununu already has Democratic company in the November 2008 race for his Senate seat, the Union Leader reports. LINK

The AP on the same: LINK

Over to you, Sen. Schumer: Katrina Swett or Steve Marchand?

2008: Republicans:

In his piece looking at the effort on the part of some RNC members to get a secret ballot on today's election of a new general chairman, the Washington Times' venerable Ralph Z. Hallow reports that "two potential Republican presidential candidates held simultaneous dinners last night for RNC members. Some members said they got invitations to the one held by" Sen. McCain "and to the one held by" former Gov. Romney. "Other said they got invitations to one but not the other. Some members said they were going to try to drop in on both dinners." LINK

"Also, a stream of members visited Mr. McCain in his Senate offices, some ferried there courtesy of RNC member Chuck Yob of Michigan."

2008: Republican National Convention:

Brady Averill of the Star Tribune reports that on Thursday, the Republican National Committee officially inked its deal with Minneapolis-St. Paul to host the 2008 GOP Convention. LINK

2008: Republicans: Giuliani:

What will it take to get the Gang of 500 (especially the journalistic and GOP portions of the Gang) to take Giuliani's White House bid seriously? Will ramping up a national finance operation and announcing some senior level staffers in key early states do it?

The New York Post's Maggie Haberman has some details. LINK

As does Marc Ambinder of the Hotline's "On Call" blog: LINK

2008: Republicans: Romney:

In his Boston Globe op-ed column, Scot Lehigh has some fun pitting Gov. Romney's 1994 and 2002 words against some of his more recent rhetoric and paints it as the first debate of the cycle: Romney v. Romney. LINK

The Dallas Morning News' editorial board sees Romney's evolution of policy positions as a serious hindrance to his candidacy. LINK

2008: Republicans: Tancredo:

The Denver Post's Christa Marshall reports today that Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) has hired a new campaign manager for his '08 bid. Shelly Uscinski also served as Pat Buchanan's New Hampshire campaign manager. LINK


In a montage entitled "Meet Your Top Presidential Candidates," gives you enough attractive photos of the 2008 contenders to make your own candidate-calendar, if that's the kind of thing you're into, and we imagine it is. LINK

Bush library:

Sam Hodges of the Dallas Morning News reports on the efforts of Rev. William McElvaney and his fight against the proposed Bush Presidential Library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. An opponent of the President's approach to international conflict, Rev. McElvaney speaking for the United Methodist Church said, "It certainly would not favor a pre-emptive war on a false premise, and try to bomb another country into democracy." LINK

The Houston Chronicle has more: LINK

Politics of climate change:

"A new coalition of environmental groups and major corporations such as Alcoa Inc., General Electric Co., DuPont Co. and Duke Energy Corp. will boost pressure on Congress and President Bush next week to address climate change more rapidly," reports the Wall Street Journal's John D. McKinnon.

"The informal coalition plans a news conference Monday to publicize its recommendations, ahead of Tuesday's State of the Union address, according to a person familiar with the situation. It will suggest that Congress and the administration move quickly to address global warming through steps such as capping greenhouse-gas emissions and discouraging construction of conventional coal-burning power plants, which are a big source of carbon-dioxide emissions."

Political potpourri:

ABC News' Matt Jaffe gives us the all the dirt on the most heated contest in Washington: the Senate's inside battle for bragging rights over this Sunday's NFC and AFC Championships, where wagers have been placed and the trash talk is flying. On his bet with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) on the Patriots-Colts match up, Sen. Even Bayh (D-IN) said, "I was happy to make this bet with John because the only thing I will enjoy more than watching the Colts beat the Patriots with my family, is watching the Colts win the Super Bowl while we all enjoy a bowl of New England clam chowder courtesy of Senator Kerry." LINK