The Note: Winter's Tale

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24

NEWS SUMMARY

You don't need to be some sort of mythical half-Alexis-de-Tocqueville-half-Joyce-Brothers beast to read the body language of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi -- and thus to understand what their visceral take on George W. Bush means for the next two years of American politics.

But it will help if you inhale Ruth Marcus' must-read op-ed in the Washington Post if you want to understand that single most important dynamic shaping Iraq policy, the legislative agenda, and the 2008 race.

Writing under a "The Knee-Jerk Opposition" header, Marcus smartly keys off of the dead-on-arrival attitude that Democrats have about Bush's health care plan LINK, but the larger points are these:

1. The Democratic leaders hate the President and don't trust him.

2. Despite their lipservice to working together on other things, as long as Iraq dominates our politics (and fuels more hatred and distrust) NAFTA-like bipartisan deals (on tough stuff like entitlements, health care, and immigration) will be impossible.

3. The Democrats (openly) and the Republicans (increasingly openly) consider the Iraq war to be over politically.

4. As the fair-minded and non-hyperbolic Dan Balz of the Washington Post writes this morning, George W. Bush is tyring "to revive his presidency against what may be the greatest odds any chief executive has faced in a generation."

5. Republicans and Democrats in Congress would vote by secret ballot to end the Bush presidency today if they could by a margin of, oh, 500-35.

6. Under the American system, the President has about two more years to serve.

Add up 1 through 6, and you will pardon us for not being overly excited about President Bush's trip to the battleground state of Delaware today to participate in a tour of DuPont Experimental Station at 10:20 am ET.

He then makes remarks on energy initiatives at 11:00 am ET in Wilmington, DE -- and we predict that the President will not be able to hide the fact that he is no more fired up about this jaunt than we are.

The President then meets in the Oval Office with the incoming commander for NATO International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan at 1:10 pm ET.

Vice President Cheney's interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer airs between 4:00-6:00 pm ET and 7:00-8:00 pm ET, at which time he will tell Blitzer in no uncertain terms (and several times) that he isn't going to discuss an ongoing criminal matter. (Note suggestion to Wolf: try this, "You recently suggested that Scooter Libby is one of the more honest and honorable people you know. Do you feel the same about Karl Rove.")

After a morning show romp, Sen. Obama was scheduled to be on hand for the beginning attends the Senate Foreign Relations Committee business meeting on the Iraq resolution at 9:00 am ET. Sen. Obama presides over the Senate at 5:00 pm ET.

This is day three of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) online chats with voters on her 2008 campaign website. Mrs. Clinton logs on for discussion at 7:00 pm ET, at which point she will express her delight at being there (but not in a Peter Sellers sort of way).

This is probably the biggest Hillary Clinton news of day: The Des Moines Register's Beaumont offers up the still developing details of Sen. Clinton's big Iowa trip this weekend and includes this delicious nugget: "Clinton aides also inquired about attending the Iowa Democratic Party's central committee meeting in Des Moines on Saturday morning, state party officials said." LINK

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