The Note: Best in Note, II

Membership Still Has Its Rewards

By MARK HALPERIN, DAVID CHALIAN, TEDDY DAVIS, IMTIYAZ DELAWALA, EMILY O'DONNELL, and SARAH BAKER

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30

NEWS SUMMARY
Back by popular demand and because the President's Iraq speech at 9:45 am ET will likely blow all this away -- The Note's "Best of . . ." Awards.

But first, here's what we know about what the President is expected to say at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD:

ABC's Martha Raddatz reports that the President's speech will essentially be "the story behind the numbers." He is expected to get into the weeds of what it means for the Iraqi Security Forces to be "Level 1" versus "Level 2" ready.

The President is expected to explain that the real problem facing the ISF is logistics support -- food, fuel, maintenance, payroll systems.

Mr. Bush is also expected to address the most recent action in the Euphrates valley which US commanders believe has been successful in keeping insurgents/terrorists out of the area.

The White House released a 35-page "National Strategy for Iraq" at 6:35 am ET this morning.

The document characterizes "the enemy" as a diffused and sophisticated combination of "rejectionists, Saddamists, and terrorists affiliated with or inspired by Al Qaida."

(Despite Secretary Rumsfeld's best efforts to banish the term "insurgent" from the American lexicon yesterday, the document refers to "insurgent" or "insurgents" 14 times).

ABC's Ann Compton reports that the document declares "no war has ever been won on a timetable and neither will this one."

The document declares "we expect, but cannot guarantee" a drawdown over the next year adding that "while our military presence may become less visible, it will remain lethal and decisive, able to confront the enemy wherever it may organize."

Following his speech at the Naval Academy, President Bush heads to Baltimore, MD for a Michael Steele fundraiser before returning to the White House for an Oval Office meeting with the Commander-in-Chief of the VFW.

If you're interested in reaction to President Bush's speech in Congressman Fitzpatrick's (R-PA) district, be sure to tune into World News Tonight at 6:30 pm ET.

As for our awards:

Best Two Must-read Newspaper Stories on Iraq Demonstrating Why the United States Still Has a Lot of Problems There: The Los Angeles report that the U.S. military is "secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq (complete with dishing Pentagon officials who are outraged and documents galore) LINK; and Finer, and Fekeiki in the Washington Post on the problems with getting accurate translations at town meetings. LINK

Best Economic Memo: Vikas Bajaj in the New York Times on why the economy is good and Goldilocks -- or not. LINK

Best 2006 Story: The New York Times on the New York State Legislature's most powerful Republican calling for Jeanine Pirro to drop her bid to run against Sen. Clinton in favor of a run for Attorney General. LINK

Best 2006 Stories Not About Jeanine Pirro (tie): Jessica Bruder's New York Observer look at just how damaging the Decker College story may or may not be for William Weld's candidacy. LINK

The Columbus Dispatch's Hallett, Niquette, and Andes on Mayor Coleman's decision to bow out of the Ohio gubernatorial race. LINK

Best Indication that the Media is Addicted to Ascribing 2008 Political Motivations to all Governmental Decisions: The Mark Warner clemency decision.LINK and LINK

Best Pushback to Such Addiction: The Washington Post editorial on same. LINK

Best Guns and Butter Critique from the Bush Camp: R. Glenn Hubbard in a Wall Street Journal on-line exchange saying the President's crown jewel prescription drug plan cost too much and does too little. LINK

Best Coverage of GOPers Distancing Themselves from Cunningham's Guilty Plea: John Broder and Carl Hulse in the New York Times. LINK

Best Sign that The Dukester Has More Retirement Security Than Many Americans: Jackie Kucinich in The Hill. LINK

Best Local Angle Follow-Up on The Dukester: Tony Perry in the Los Angeles Times. LINK

Best Story on Corzine's Struggle to Replace Corzine: LINK

Best Sign that New Hampshire's Election Honcho Won't Acquiesce to EITHER Caucuses or Primaries Moving Ahead of the Granite State: John DiStaso in the Union Leader on Secretary of State Gardner's line in the sand. LINK

Best Story for New Hampshire Junkies in the national press: Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza's comparison of the New Hampshire primary to the Kentucky Derby and the Statue of Liberty in the Washington Post. LINK

Best Story for Iowa Junkies: The Sioux City Journal has an Iowa Democrat accusing Gov. Tom Vilsack of not stepping up to the plate to defend the state's caucuses. LINK

Best Sign (This Week) that the AP Under-Appreciates Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D-NY) Iraq Recalibration from Lieberman's Hard-Line Camp to the Middle-of-the-Road Camp: LINK

"I do not believe that we should allow this to be an open-ended commitment without limits or end. Nor do I believe that we can or should pull out of Iraq immediately," Clinton wrote in a letter to supporters yesterday. (Note to the AP: Her eagerness to signal that the commitment is not open-ended is new and Noteworthy even though she continues to reject an immediate pullout.)

Best Sign that Dick Morris Won't Quit His Love Affair with Secretary Rice Anytime Soon: LINK

Best Sign that Rudy Giuliani Hasn't Gone Away: LINK

Best On The Record Republican Response to Susan Kennedy, a former aide to ex-Gov. Gray Davis (D-CA), Being Tapped by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R-CA): Mike Spence, president of the California Republican Assembly, in the Los Angeles Times: "There is a list of things now where it appears we would have been better off if Gray Davis were governor." LINK