Subpoenas are flying, and Chris Christie is traveling. Michelle Obama is celebrating, while her husband is threatening – to act. Hillary Clinton is being Hillary Clinton, which is not the same as being a candidate – not that that matters for the purposes of magazine cover. Congress is back to not working – and more members are choosing to work even less, which of course frees them up to make more money…
Here's a glimpse of some of the stories your ABC News political team will be tracking in the week ahead:
|PENS AND PHONES|
Monday marks the start of the sixth year of the Obama presidency – one that, by President Obama's own description, will be a "year of action." (It may also be one of more cocktails, if a meeting with Senate Democrats this past week, and the menu for the first lady's 50th birthday party, are any indication.) The president said he's readying both his pen and his phone to try to turn the page from a stagnant 2013 to a vibrant 2014. He'll have no better chance than his State of the Union speech, on Jan. 28, to reset the stage for his agenda. His Friday speech announcing reforms to NSA surveillance programs marks a start in efforts to usher out the old and welcome some new energy.
|BRIDGE TO SOMEWHERE|
Now comes the hard part for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. State and federal investigations are just getting launched into the lane-closing scandal that threatens to end his political ambitions – at the very time that Christie ushers himself onto the national stage. He's got a weekend of fundraising events in Florida, under the auspices of the Republican Governors Association that he now chairs. Christie will be back in the Garden State in time for his second inauguration as governor on Tuesday. His challenge will be to convey a sense of normalcy, and a return to his leadership potential, against the very abnormal backdrop of months-long probes and a national Democratic campaign to discredit him.
|MIND THE EXITS|
Don't look now, but congressmen are dropping all over the place – and across the political spectrum. A rash of surprise retirements, some by members of Congress in seats presumed to be safe from serious challenge, is changing the 2014 electoral landscape. There have been a few more Republicans hanging it up than Democrats, and the number of competitive districts with vacancies results in a wash, for the most part. But that's beginning to change, and with it seems to be going the slim likelihood that Democrats had to pick up the 17 seats they'll need to recapture control of the House this year. Perhaps more troublesome for Democrats is that veteran members of Congress from safe seats are bowing out, apparently realizing that they won't become committee chairs any time soon.
There's one place where it actually is 2016 now: the calendar. Establishing a primary schedule that guarantees a timely end to the nomination process is a big priority for Republicans, after a 2012 calendar (and endless debates) produced a politically damaged nominee. A key item on the Republican National Committee agenda for its winter meeting in Washington next week will be to approve a collapsed voting schedule, with an earlier convention date and real penalties for states that try to circumvent the rules. With the battle between the party's tea party and establishment wings still raging, any changes to nominating procedures have the potential to boil over. And setting the schedule will be easy compared to the RNC's other big task for 2016: sharply limiting the number of debates.
|'MITT,' THE MOVIE|
Behind the scenes of Mitt Romney's two campaigns for president … OK, so it hardly sounds like cinematic magic. But here's the thing: The documentary "MITT," set for public release next week, has the goods. Ultimate insider access to the Romney family by filmmaker Greg Whiteley, dating back to 2007, produces scenes that just aren't ever captured on tape, including the moment where Romney realizes he won't become president. The trailer alone, with a glassy-eyed Romney family processing an Election Night defeat, generated buzz around how that Mitt Romney never came through in 2008 or 2012. The film debuts at the Sundance Film Festival and then hits Netflix next Friday. It figures to change perceptions of Romney – and perhaps shape the way future presidential candidates are seen, too.