A roundup of news, schedules, and key stories from CBS News Political Director Steve Chaggaris:
On the eve of their inauguration, President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden will honor Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday by participating in community service events in the Washington, D.C. area today. Later, Mr. Obama will host three separate "bipartisan dinners" in honor of Biden, his 2008 rival Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and former Secretary of State retired Gen. Colin Powell.
Michelle Obama and Jill Biden will attend the "Kids' Inaugural", a concert featuring Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers.
Speaking of McCain, the New York Times' David D. Kirkpatrick reports that McCain and Mr. Obama have been in touch – a lot – since the election. "Over the last three months, Mr. Obama has quietly consulted Mr. McCain about many of the new administration's potential nominees to top national security jobs and about other issues — in one case relaying back a contender's answers to questions Mr. McCain had suggested.
Mr. McCain, meanwhile, has told colleagues 'that many of these appointments he would have made himself,' said Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and a close McCain friend. Fred I. Greenstein, emeritus professor of politics at Princeton, said: 'I don't think there is a precedent for this. Sometimes there is bad blood, sometimes there is so-so blood, but rarely is there good blood.'"
Anticipation is building for Mr. Obama's inaugural address, which he'll deliver after he's sworn in just before noon tomorrow. "Obama's advisers also began to give a taste of the inaugural address that he will deliver at the other end of the Mall tomorrow -- saying it will emphasize the themes of responsibility and restoring public confidence," writes the Washington Post's Anne E. Kornblut.
"Obama touched on that subject yesterday, saying that what gave him great optimism was the 'Americans of every race and region and station who came here because you believe in what this country can be and because you want to help us get there.' ... Aides who have seen parts of Obama's speech said they expect it to meet or surpass expectations of a president-elect known for his soaring oratory."
The New York Times' Katherine Q. Seelye adds, "'That Inaugural Address is going to define his presidency in the eyes of the rest of the world,' [JFK speechwriter and adviser Theodore] Sorensen said. It should be 'bipartisan in tone and global in reach,' he added, while leaving prescriptions for most domestic matters, like health care, for an address to Congress next month.
"'If I were to fault him,' Mr. Sorensen volunteered, 'I would say that occasionally his sentences and words are not always short.' Analysts said Mr. Obama needed to create a sense of urgency, especially about the economy, to bring the public along with him and make Congress feel compelled to work with him. Some of his tasks are inherently contradictory: give a realistic assessment about the perils facing the country without portraying them as overwhelming; raise hopes and instill confidence without overpromising what he might be able to accomplish; and represent the change he has promised without insulting his predecessor."
Meantime, on "Day 1", Wednesday, "Mr. Obama will order American military leaders to plan the speedy withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq and will direct his economic advisers to do everything possible to avert a prolonged downturn and double-digit unemployment, his top aides said Sunday," reports the New York Times' Brian Knowlton.
"Within the first week, he might also issue executive orders calling for the closure of the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba even though the process might take time, Robert Gibbs, the incoming press secretary, told 'Fox News Sunday.' 'We've talked about banning torture and closing Guantanamo, the process by which that will happen,' Mr. Gibbs said. In addition, Mr. Obama would issue executive orders tightening ethics and transparency rules affecting current and outgoing government workers."
Politico's Mike Allen, who first reported the look-ahead to Mr. Obama's "Day 1", writes, "About 20 senior officials have had their paperwork cleared to enter the White House complex on Tuesday. Some will attend a traditional lunch with the new president in the Capitol, then get to work while the inaugural parade is under way. ...
"Officials say on Wednesday ... he is scheduled to meet with his economic team to discuss the latest calibration of his stimulus package, which is likely to be about $900 billion by the time it reaches his desk, probably in mid-February.
"Obama will also meet Wednesday with his national security team to discuss 'next steps in Iraq and Afghanistan,' an aide said. ...
"Obama also plans a flurry of executive orders, including some on Wednesday. These orders are a way presidents can force change in government without having to go through Congress. The early Obama orders are likely to range from the mundane to the profound – from routine bureaucratic proclamations about continuity of government, to a declaration calling to begin the closing of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. ...
"Over his first several days in office, he plans a series of orders that will kick off his era of change."
Politico's Josh Gerstein runs down a list of "10 Bush pardons to watch for": "Bush is also facing pressure from conservative allies, who see pardons of former Bush administration officials and some others as a more realistic possibility. At the top of their lists: Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, still under investigation for his role in a series of U.S. attorney firings."
The Associated Press' uber-helpful schedule of inaugural events.
Washington Post's Martin Weil, "Snowy Forecast Not Enough to Wreck the Party": "The first measurable snow of the winter in the Washington area could fall today, the National Weather Service said. A small amount -- less than an inch -- is possible during the day, and more could fall tonight, forecasters said."
Wall Street Journal's Brody Mullins and Elizabeth Williamson, "Lobbyists Find Detour Around Latest Ethics Rules": "President-elect Barack Obama was a vocal champion of rules enacted last year that prohibit companies and lobbyists from buying anything worth more than $10 for lawmakers. But well-heeled interests have found a way to circumvent the ban by partnering with 'state societies' that are throwing parties to celebrate Mr. Obama's inauguration. ...
"Mr. Obama's home state of Illinois, for example, is holding its own inaugural ball on Monday, the night before Mr. Obama is sworn in. It is offering executives of Motorola Inc., Exelon Corp., and the American Road and Transportation Builders Association a chance to pay big money to dine and pose for photos with Illinois lawmakers and incoming Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who recently retired as congressman from the state.
"The price: $5,000 to $55,000, event organizers said. Hawaii, Mr. Obama's birthplace, has invited companies and lobbyists who pay as much as $25,000 into a roped-off VIP lounge at its Tuesday night affair, where they can mingle with influential policy makers.
"Among the drawing cards: Hawaii Sen. Dan Inouye, the new chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Gen. Eric Shinseki, a Hawaiian tapped to lead the Veterans Affairs Department. Takers so far include Lockheed Martin Corp., which gave $25,000 for access to the party. Jeff Adams, a spokesman for Lockheed, said: 'I can confirm that Lockheed Martin is co-sponsoring some of the unofficial inaugural events.'
Gen. Shinseki and Mr. LaHood canceled their appearances at the galas after The Wall Street Journal contacted the transition team about them. Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to comment on the balls."
NY Times' Matt Richtel, "Inauguration Crowd Will Test Cellphone Networks"
Politico's Michael Calderone, "Media execs prep for 'news emergency'"
"The appointment of Mr. Mitchell, a seasoned and well-regarded negotiator, would signal that President-elect Barack Obama was attaching a high priority to the Middle East and the current Gaza crisis from his first days in office."
Washington Post's Walter Pincus, "Clinton's Goals Detailed": "In the battle of ideas, she said, the United States would go on the offensive implementing President-elect Barack Obama's pledges to open 'America Houses' in cities across the Arab world. These facilities, fashioned after a Cold War-era program, would have Internet libraries, English lessons and stories about Muslims in America.
"An initiative labeled 'America's Voice Corps' would recruit young Americans with language and public diplomacy skills to speak with and listen to people in the area. Completing the package would be a Global Education Fund to provide $2 billion for primary education around the world.
"But, she said, there would not be a return of the independent U.S. Information Agency. Clinton said the incoming administration wants to end the Cold War practice of keeping intercontinental ballistic missiles ready for launch 'at a moment's notice,' though she added the proviso that it must be done 'in a mutual and credible manner.'"
NY SENATE SEAT / CAROLINE KENNEDY
"'My BlackBerry is emitting smoke from people e-mailing me the latest rumor. This whole thing has taken on a life of its own. There may be a method to this madness, but it's madness,' one Democratic elected official said. Paterson said last night he's looking at 'who can help New York the most in this critical economic time' - and who's got the best chance of winning the 2010 election for the seat. 'I have to figure out who would win the poll in 2010 when the public will make the final choice,' Paterson told CNN's 'Larry King Live.'"
NY Post's Frederic U. Dicker, "Caroline the 'Certain' Pick for Dave: Rivals": "Despite claims that he's still undecided, Gov. Paterson is 'certain' to pick Caroline Kennedy to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton in the US Senate, several unhappy contenders for the job have told friends and associates in recent days.
"The contenders based their conclusion on the view that Paterson, after nearly two months of indecision, would 'greatly embarrass' and 'entirely humiliate' Kennedy, anger her prominent political family and even offend President-elect Barack Obama by picking someone other than President John F. Kennedy's daughter.
"As for the governor's claim to be weighing a last-minute finalist, the contenders agree with a close Paterson friend who said, 'It's clear David is just trying to play mind games with the press.'"
NY Times' Deborah Sontag, "In a Most Private Kennedy, a Lure of Public Duty"
MINNESOTA SENATE RACE
Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Kevin Diaz, "In D.C., Franken courts big donors": "A smiling Al Franken hosted an 'inaugural brunch' fundraiser at the Willard Hotel on Sunday, a $1,000-a-plate event on his first trip to the capital since he was certified as the leader in the U.S. Senate race with Norm Coleman. ...
"The trip comes as his 225-vote lead over Coleman is being challenged in court. Franken campaign officials gave no estimate of the take from the 350-person fundraiser, where top donors were asked to contribute $12,300 for a joint recount fund with the Minnesota DFL Party. 'It costs a lot of money,' Franken said of the recount battle, which is expected to run into the millions of dollars. 'I'm not sure of the specific amount.'"
Washington Post's Michelle Boorstein, "Big Turnout For Obama's Former Pastor": "A year after then-candidate Barack Obama distanced himself from his controversial longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright thrilled thousands of churchgoers yesterday morning in Washington, giving a sermon holding up Obama as a spiritual symbol of possibility."
Washington Post's Chris Cillizza and Perry Bacon Jr., "The rapid rise of Barack Obama -- from the Illinois state Senate to the White House in four years -- appears to be inspiring 2010 campaigns by politicians who might have been more cautious if the president-elect hadn't set the pace."