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50 days until Election Day 17 days until the first proposed presidential debate

NEWS SUMMARY

With John Kerry trying a bit of offense on assault weapons and North Korea; major Iraq chaos; some book background noise; and a pair National Guard showdowns, we bring you …

… .A simple Monday Note quiz (intended for ages 16 to 76) to re-set the presidential race for one and all:

1. History will record August through early September was the period in which:

A. Senator Kerry effectively lost the White House.

or

B. Senator Kerry effectively reorganized his campaign and found his message, learning many lessons from the nature and ferocity of the attacks on him in July/August.

2. The documents on which CBS based its report last week raising new questions about the special treatment President Bush received as a member of the Texas National Guard are:

A. forgeries, the exposure of which will create a great media whodunit that will distract the press away from the real issues in the election, get the right riled up against the dominant media, and give additional firepower to the Bartlett-led allegations of "desperate attacks" on the president.

or

B. the real deal that will put unprecedented pressure on the president to explain his time in the National Guard and his "young and irresponsible" years, providing a wedge into the "trust," "privilege," and "character" issues Democratic strategists dream about, and forcing the White House to engage the facts on a level beyond (the comic mantra) "the president served honorably and was honorably discharged."

3. The newspaper stories in which various Kerry advisers trash each other on background and talk about what the candidate's message "should" be — exposing the rifts between the Boston-consultants-staffer-family camps and leaving Karl Rove scratching his chin wondering why less than 2 months before election day his opponent doesn't know what his message is:

A. will continue all fall, giving the press its much desired "if he can't run a presidential campaign, how can he run the country?" storyline.

or

B. saw their last gasp in Saturday's New York Times , Sunday's Los Angeles Times, and the Bob Shrum profile by Ken Auletta in the New Yorker (LINK) — after which the Senator demanded that such nonsense stop forever.

4. As he struggles to find a message, Senator Kerry will

A. enter the debates with the Bob Dole '96 problem of how to go negative and catch up without looking, well, negative.

or

B. soon figure out how George W. Bush can simultaneously (in the same speech!! even in the same paragraph!!) go positive and negative and not face a series of stories about the inevitable "choice" between the two.

5. No matter what the allegation or negative development, until and unless George Bush loses his lead in the polls, his campaign will:

A. answer every attack or fact from any source with a version of "Senator Kerry is making another desperate charge at the end of the campaign because he is behind in the polls. Once again, Americans are tired of the same old political flip flopping from a desperate man who doesn't know what he believes," and never themselves answer the substance of the charges.

or

B. face increased scrutiny of Bush's record on Iraq and the economy in ways that (even) Senator Kerry will be able to take advantage of.

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