The Note: Peggy Noonan Has Never Met Belinda Carlisle

The Senate is gaveled into session at 2:00 pm ET for legislative business, followed by a vote on the nomination of Carlos Gutierrez to be Secretary of Commerce. At 2:30 pm ET, the Department of Justice bids farewell to Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Tomorrow, watch for the new CBO report on the state of the budget and new state unemployment numbers. Condoleezza Rice is expected to be confirmed as Secretary of State. And Tuesday is also the deadline for Iraqis living abroad to register to vote.

Also tomorrow, President Bush meets with African American leaders and pastors at the EEOB.

On Wednesday, President Bush discusses health care at a forum in the DC area and the Vice President arrives in Poland. On Thursday, President Bush discusses health care technology in Ohio. On Friday, he speaks at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia on the "Congress of Tomorrow" as Republican congressional leaders meet to strategize.

Friday, the GDP for the final quarter of 2004 is expected to be released. Economists are gridding for a growth rate of about 3.5 percent.

On Saturday, Democrats hold their final pre-election regional forum in New York, and the Association of State Democratic Party chairs is expected to endorse a candidate.

Bush agenda: angst and agitas:

We think Adam Nagourney and Richard Stevenson's no-blind-quote article (Take that, Dan Okrent) in the New York Times can be summed up by the following four paragraphs:

"As Mr. Bush embarks on an explicit effort to put an imprint on politics and policy that will long outlast his presidency, his advisers are heady over what several described as an opportunity to make a long-lasting realignment in the nation's political balance of power." LINK

"But even those advisers said Mr. Bush had at most two years before he faced the ebb that historically saps the authority of a second-term incumbent, a relatively short time to sell his far-reaching agenda. And Republicans say his situation could be complicated by the absence of an obvious heir, opening the way for competing wings of the party to battle over details and tactics on the very issues Mr. Bush is embracing."

"Democrats, even while struggling with their own party divisions and confusion, are showing signs of coalescing into an aggressive opposition party, especially on issues like judicial appointments and Social Security."

"Mr. Bush has repeatedly overcome doubts about his ability to win approval of controversial proposals."

Bob Novak-style conservatives aren't happy, as Bob, er, found out, as he hung with his pals last week. " . . . (C)oncern about Bush's second-term course is derived from a variety of signals, small and large, coming from the White House. None of them separately signifies a president abandoning the principles upon which he was elected. But taken together, they generate doubt and more than a little unease on the right." LINK

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