Monkey Butts: In one of the more vivid illustrations of the political landscape in some time David Axelrod had this to say about Newt Gingrich today, Devin Dwyer reports: "Just remember, the higher a monkey climbs on a pole, the more you can see his butt," Axelrod said, citing a piece of political wisdom he said he learned from a Chicago alderman. "So, the speaker is very high on the pole right now and we'll see how people like the view."
No Slam Dunk: Meanwhile, the President, in a series of interviews with affiliates, reiterated his argument that the 2012 race is going to be a tough one for him. As Mary Bruce reports: "'Back in 2008, we used to talk about this being a historic moment for America, that we were at a crossroads in our history. Well, we haven't fully crossed the road, and in some ways, 2012 is even more important than it was four years ago,' he said. 'The choices could not be starker. The vision about where we want to take the country could not be more different.'"
There are 12 shopping days left until Christmas…and 21 shopping days left for Iowans headed to the Caucus. As Shushannah Walshe reports in her daily "Good Morning Iowa" note, all the candidates except Rick Santorum were absent from the first-in-the-nation state today.
Cheney Fires Another Blast: Cheney blasted President Obama on CNN last night for his handling of the downed U.S. drone in Iran, saying he should have destroyed the drone immediately to protect U.S. intelligence. "The right response to that would have been to go in immediately after it had gone down and destroy it," Cheney said told Erin Burnett.
More Chaos on the Hill…as clock ticks down to holiday deadline: With the government set to expire its funding by Friday, Sunlen Miller reports that Reid is "threatening to hold up the bill to fund the government until a deal is struck on the payroll tax cut extension and unemployment benefits." But as John Parkinson adds over on the House side, John Boehner is not caving to the pressure - "'I'm hopeful that the Senate leaders will come to their senses, allow members to sign this report, and move forward. There is no reason to hold this bill up.'"
Country First: Jon Huntsman told Barbara Walters and the View ladies today that his decision to "put country first" and serve as the U.S. Ambassador to China in the Obama Administration is hurting his campaign - even though Walters said "on paper" he is the ideal candidate.
The Value of a Dollar - As Jon Karl first reported last summer, making those $1 coins has been costing the U.S. quite a pretty penny. And today, the Treasury Department said 'basta. .'
Perry Ad, This Time No Christmas Reference - As Arlette Saenz reported, the latest Perry web video landed with less of a thud than last week's - which is still getting plenty of play from the comedy sites, like this new one from Funny or Die.