The Note: Still Believe in a Place Called Kennebunkport/Chappaqua

"History, however, is only a good predictor until it isn't. Before Election Day this year, we were incessantly told that Mr. Bush was going to be turned out of office because -- among other things -- no president had ever won re-election after having a net jobs loss on his watch. Two years ago we heard the point echoed today about a president's party losing seats in off-year elections. Yet somehow Mr. Bush managed to win re-election for himself and to add to the Republican majorities in the House and Senate in both the 2002 and the 2004 elections."

"If anything, the history of the Bush presidency so far is that it isn't following historical trends. One reason Mr. Bush has 'beat' history is that the nation is in the midst of a realignment that has been a long time in the making. The war on terror and the end of the Cold War has already transformed foreign policy. Building liberal democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq is also giving the nation a fresh look at its own moral underpinnings. Meanwhile, voters are being confronted with changing the definition of marriage and saving Social Security -- the bedrock of the New Deal -- from bankruptcy."

That might not be exactly correct, but it is providing a winning mindset and formula for the party in power.

As for the Democrats, they have a national chair to find; a set of congressional leaders still looking for a modus operandi; a bunch of liberal interest groups in a mood more grumpy than feisty; and John Kerry.

You don't have to be a fan of John Giesser's (we are) or a student of irony and understatement (not us . . . ) to get EVERY one of the (mostly unintentional) 13 pieces of humor embedded in this must-read paragraph from Evan Thomas' Bizarro World Newsweek interview with Sen. Kerry, but those traits will help:

"Kerry has become deeply fascinated by the task of rebuilding the Democratic Party from the grass roots up, say his advisers. He has hired a streetwise political organizer from Boston named John Giesser, the deputy to 2004 grass-roots organizer Michael Whouley, to run his political action committee. There is talk that Kerry is trying to make Giesser his Karl Rove, though Giesser is said to be too quiet and unassuming to play the role of master manipulator." LINK

Kerry is off on a foreign trip to "the region" with a couple of aides in tow. Let's hope he read Adam Nagourney's New York Times Week in Review piece on "whither the Democratic Party?" story before he left. LINK

We also hope he had a chance to read Tommy Edsall and James Grimaldi on Dec. 30 on how the Republicans spent smarter than the Democrats (yes, yes, Sen. Kerry, with more time to prepare . . . ). LINK

Oh, and also on Sunday, the Washington Post's Richmond alums (Mike Allen and John F. Harris) "broke" the story that Dan Bartlett is becoming Karen Hughes; Nicolle Devenish is becoming Dan Bartlett; and Steve Schmidt is becoming Mary Matalin. LINK

Everyone but James Carville seems fine with this.

We have more to discuss in the coming days to tee up the month and the year, but we want to ease you back in slowly.

So -- on to today's news.

Neither President Bush nor Vice President Cheney has any public events today, but on Capitol Hill, House leaders, both Republican and Democrat, gathered at 9:00 am ET at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill for a bipartisan prayer service with singing, praying and Old and New Testament readings.

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