ABC News' The Note: First Source for Political News

Like McCain, both men invoked the notion that this is too big and too dangerous a time in America's history to trust an unsteady leader.

We never know how "real people" in the country will react, but it is reasonable to guess, at least, that neither speech was likely aimed at persuading the persuadable, but instead were meant to convince those already committed to feel good about their loyalty to the Bush-Cheney ticket and whip them up.

"It's the terrorism, stupid," leads Ron Brownstein's Los Angeles Times news analysis. LINK

Cheney and Miller "reduced President Bush's case for reelection to virtually a single argument: Bush would be tough and resolute in the war on terrorism and Kerry would be neither," writes Brownstein before he goes on to compare the 2004 Republican laser like focus on terror to the Democratic focus on the economy in 1992.

MoDo doesn't buy the "unscripted," look-he's-a-good-guy moments of Dick Cheney on TV. "Republicans are political killers. They are confident that Americans, in a 9/11 world, are going to be more drawn to political killers who have made some 'miscalculations' on Iraq, as W. put it, than with a shaggy-haired Vietnam War protester whom Bush 41 compares to Hanoi Jane." LINK

Washington Post's John Harris writes that Cheney argued "in taunting language that the Democratic presidential nominee has demonstrated through his public statements and votes that he is unfit to be commander in chief in an age of terrorism." LINK

Watch for the close-up shots in newspapers and magazines today and this weekend of an angry Zell Miller in mid-speech if there remains a shadow of a doubt how much of the mainstream press saw Miller's attack Wednesday night. Nobody's gotten out a Sharpie and drawn horns and a little goatee, but it's not far off.

"The Republican crowd lapped up the red meat Miller sliced off and served up, loudly booing after nearly every Kerry reference," Noticed the New York Post's Stefan Friedman. LINK

Todd Purdum looks at the intersection of politics and policy in Cheney's speech:

"To some it may seem an overdistilled message, discarding much of what the Bush administration has learned, often the hard way, over the past year. It largely ignores discussion of the value of alliances, the need to treat the roots of terrorism, or the requirements of slow, patient diplomacy in places where there are no real military options. Mr. Bush's critics will say it sidesteps the problems of murky intelligence and deeply festering resentments of American power around the world." LINK

"But as Mr. Bush's and Mr. Cheney's advisers have repeatedly said in recent weeks, campaigns and the subtleties of national security policy do not easily mix. So they have settled on a strategy designed to sow doubts about their opponent's character, while hoping that some bold declarations about taking the fight to the enemy would overwhelm memories of the missteps of the past year. "

The Chicago Tribune's Tackett skillfully describes the Vice President's role in the convention and in Administration. "Dick Cheney was made for second billing." LINK

"Quiet and dour, he is most effective behind closed doors, which is where he normally resides. He is to George W. Bush a sage, blunt but discreet political counsel, transforming his office from warm-bucket-of-spit ceremonial to in-the-room influential."

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