Afghanistan, healthcare and the impact on Dems to dominate Sunday shows

Afghanistan and healthcare -- and what both issues mean for Democrats in 2010 -- will once again dominate this week's Sunday morning talk shows.

The continued focus on those two political issues arrives at a time when congressional lawmakers are pining for President Barack Obama to offer at least a deadline for his decision on troop levels in Afghanistan and specify precisely he wants in a healthcare reform bill.

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Standing in for the White House will be Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who will head to both CNN's "State of the Union" and CBS' "Face the Nation" this weekend. Emanuel is sure to field countless questions on both programs about the Obama administration's progress re-tooling its Afghanistan strategy -- a process that many Republicans have criticized as slow and risky.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) will likely echo those charges in his later appearance on "Face the Nation," and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) could inadvertently question the White House's line when he joins Emanuel on both shows via satellite from a military base in Kabul.

Meanwhile, healthcare is sure to dominate "Meet the Press," where Senior White House Adviser Valerie Jarrett will join Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.)  and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

Dodd is a key member of his chamber's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and he now has the task of combining his panel's healthcare bill with the proposal the Senate Finance Committee approved -- but Kyl, one of its key Republican members, voted against -- on Tuesday.

Those lawmakers are also likely to touch upon Obama's push for more financial oversight -- an area in which the White House scored a major political victory this week with the passage of new derivative regulations.

Elsewhere, Democrats will dominate this weekend's "Fox News Sunday." Sens. Kent Conrad (N.D.) and Arlen Specter (Pa.) will join host Chris Wallace to talk healthcare and the economy as well. Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee John Thune (S.D.) will then offer his take on those debates later in the show.

Former adviser to President George W. Bush Karl Rove and defeated Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAulliffe (D) will also talk politics on Fox. Rove has long predicted the Democrats' would lose big in 2010, in part because of how the party has handled the debates over healthcare and Afghanistan.

By contrast, McAullife will likely make the case for why state Sen. Creigh Deeds' (D) can pull off a last-minute win over GOP challenger Bob McDonnell, who is currently up in the polls.

White House Adviser David Axelrod will field similar 2010 election questions on ABC's "This Week." Among them: whether the White House predicts losses in New Jersey, New York and Virginia, and whether the Obama administration will continue to play a substantial role in local political races.