The Note: Up Pup, Pup Is Up

9 days to the Inauguration

DHS NOMINEE is (announced today at 10:00 am ET)

SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM is on (the griddle? tap? life support? fire?).

PRESIDENT BUSH is in (vogue? the Wall Street Journal? command? to too much?).

HAMISH BOWLES is of (the phrase of the day: "calculated not to frighten the horses.").

BILL KRISTOL is from (the inside? an outside-the-Beltway mindset? and inside-the-Beltway mindset?).

HOWARD DEAN is upon (the crossroads of his career? the decision of a lifetime? his second loss?).

"THIS IS NOT VERBATIM," MR. RATHER RECALLED. "BUT I SAID: 'ANDREW, IF TRUE, IT'S BREATHTHROUGH STUFF. BUT I NEED TO DO SOMETHING UNUSUAL. IT MAY EVEN BE UNIQUE. I HAVE TO ASK YOU TO OVERSEE, IN A HANDS-ON WAY, THE HANDLING OF THIS STORY, BECAUSE THIS IS POTENTIALLY THE KIND OF THING THAT WILL CAUSE GREAT CONTROVERSY.' HE GOT IT. HE IMMEDIATELY AGREED" is out (of the papers almost entirely? of the minds at those at CBS?)

Today, the President kicks off his agenda-framing on Social Security with a 10:45 am ET conversation in Washington, D.C. See below for more.

The Supreme Court meets at 10:00 am ET for arguments and orders.

The Washington State legislature meets today at 3:00 pm ET/noon PT in a joint session where they're expected to certify the election of Democrat Christine Gregoire as governor. Secretary of State Sam Reed certified Gregoire the winner over Republican Dino Rossi on Dec. 30, 2004 by a 129-vote margin.

Big Apple Mayor Michael "Mike" Bloomberg gives his State of the City address at midday.

Social Security:

The Wall Street Journal's John McKinnon and Chris Cooper nabbed the first newspaper interview with President Bush after his re-election victory and have the President's vow to "lead" on the issue of Social Security. The President did not offer specifics and he did not tell the Journal reporters whether he'd let Congress propose specifics first, although he seemed to suggest that the Administration has first dibbs on a precise proposal.

"Mr. Bush declined to specifically embrace recent assertions by aides that the Social Security benefit formula has contributed to the system's insolvency by making benefits rise too rapidly, but he pledged to propose more than a 'Band-Aid' solution to address the 'structural problem' in the system."

"While vigorous in describing his domestic agenda, Mr. Bush was at his most animated when discussing prospects for bringing democracy to the Middle East, an idea he said is being propelled forward by the weekend balloting among Palestinians and the Iraqi elections scheduled for Jan. 30. After the formal 30-minute interview ended, Mr. Bush paused while escorting reporters out of the Oval Office to explain at length his relish at joining what he sees as a historic effort at transformation, amid widespread skepticism about prospects for success among Western governments and even some of his fellow Republicans."

Of course, this Friday night, in his first post-election TV interview, the President is interviewed on ABC News' 20/20 by Barbara Walters -- in a program that will also include the First Lady.

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