Leonhardt notes that "ADP is forecasting a gain of 297,000 private-sector jobs in December, which would be the biggest monthly gain since early 2006." Macroeconomic Advisers says there are reasons to be skeptical of this number but also reasons for hope:

[T]he weakness in November retail payrolls (and services more generally) did seem out of place, in light of robust holiday sales and other indications that labor markets are improving (e.g., declining initial claims). If the December figure for growth of private service-sector employment is as far above the recent, improving trend (call it 150 thousand) as it was below it in November, we could get growth of private service-sector employment in the range of 200 thousand to 250 thousand. Add some growth in the goods-producing sector and we’re there.

I've been trying to gauge the new year mood and have to say I'm a little at a loss. But I do feel that anger is no longer the mood; it's almost as if the third of the country that simply couldn't cope with an Obamanation have insisted on their relevance and have had their say. The face of Boehner is now their lodestar, as Palin seems a more exhausted and over-exposed media fad. What's left is a piecemeal recovery under a president whose favorable and approval ratings have so far held up rather well - and could deter serious GOP rivals in 2012.

Yeah, that's what I got. Until the SOTU, it might be all we've got.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.