The Note: February Sanity

WASHINGTON, Mar. 16

Newbies: see previous Notes for explanation of the Rings.

Vets: Clip and save.

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Ring 1 (Iraq):
Congressional Democrats have rolled the boulder 1/9th the way up the short-term mountain, and in so doing, have unified 8/9th of congressional Republicans in support of the White House, and, in so doing, have not impacted the President's intentions one whit.

Ring 2 (the prospects for bipartisan legislative legacy compromises):
If you consider the shared Bolten-Schumer desire for a proper Gonzales outcome to be a legacy compromise, sure. Otherwise, the rest of it is deader and deader as the weeks go by, with Ring 1 still the biggest obstacle.

Ring 3 (2008):
In past presidential cycles of the modern era: (1) the de facto nominees have been determined in February, or, otherwise in March (which is just one month after February); (2) candidates always have tried to raise as much money as they can, starting early in the year before the election; (3) after Iowa and New Hampshire yield their results, candidates who don't finish in one of the top three slots are asked different versions of the same question ("When are you dropping out of the race?") 1,000 times a day, and they are asked NOTHING else; (4) campaigning in states other than Iowa and New Hampshire (and perhaps one or two others) has been through television advertising, free media, and tarmac-to-tarmac sprints; (5) wealthy and well-known candidates have had a big advantage; and, (6) candidates with real ideas for the nation have done well. All these things are likely to be true in 2008, but not MORE true than in the past -- and some of them might be LESS true.

On 2008 money, it is nearly time for campaigns (a) to start playing the expectations game -- in earnest -- regarding where they will finish in the first-quarter derby; and, (b) to decide when and how they will put out -- by leak or press release -- their actual numbers (with none of the Big 6, we would guess, leading their announcements with cash on hand).

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It is unclear at this writing whether or not Attorney General Gonzales will head to Capitol Hill to do some political outreach today.

Valerie Plame Wilson plans to testify before a 10:00 am ET hearing of the House Oversight Committee on whether White House officials followed appropriate procedures for safeguarding her CIA identity.

President Bush was scheduled to meet with his Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors at 9:00 am ET. At 9:55 am ET, President Bush participates in a Shamrock Ceremony in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, followed by a 10:10 am ET Oval Office meeting with Bertie Ahern, the Prime Minister of Ireland.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) continues his bus tour through Iowa with a 1:00 pm ET town hall meeting at the Pipac Center in Cedar Falls, IA. He then moves the operation to New Hampshire for a 7:00 pm ET roundtable on law enforcement and first response at the Nashua Fire House in Nashua, NH. He will remain in the Granite State throughout the weekend.

Also in New Hampshire today, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) pays a 2:30 pm ET visit to residents of the Earl M Bourdon Centre in Claremont, NH, followed by a 6:30 pm ET town hall forum at Keene High School in Keene, NH.

Sen. Clinton heads to Texas for some Lone Star State fundraising.

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