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The Republican convention starts today. 64 days until election day


In his recent interviews with Brit Hume and Adam Nagourney, Karl Rove went out of his way to downplay his influence over the Life and Times of George W. Bush.

The reasons for this — beyond Mr. Rove's ingrained modesty — are pretty clear.

First of all, as Wayne Slater and other Gotham-ensconced members of the Texas press corps can tell you, Mr. Bush himself isn't all that crazy about the "Rove as Svengali" story line.

Second, Rove is smart enough to know that with credit comes scrutiny, and smart enough to know that the press has decided that anything Rove touches — anything he does, anything he says — is just pure evil.

We share Karl's fascination with — if not his pity for — John Kerry, that a man who would be President of the United States actually attacks a staffer on the stump (although, Note to Karl, it sure does draw a lot of emotion from the crowds!!).

If there was ever any doubt that the press will never cut Rove a break, it came in January of 2002, when at the Austin hotel that serves the best fajitas, Rove said the following to a meeting of the Republican National Committee regarding the midterm election:

"We can go to the country on this issue because they trust the Republican Party to do a better job of protecting and strengthening America's military might and thereby protecting America."

That line has been much quoted and much abused by Ted Kennedy, etc., over the last two and a half years, but we have spent that time asking: what's wrong with one party claiming it can do a better job — and has a better record — on one of the pre-eminent issues of our time?

Now, as with any issue, there are ways to overstep and abuse, but the simple notion of saying — in public — that the country trusts the GOP more on these issues and that the party can play that up — well, we still don't see what all the fuss is/was about.

So, this is the day when all this comes together — the convention that Karl Rove has been designing in his head for literally years; in the city that has come to symbolize the President's national security and emotional bond with much of the nation; at a four-day meeting that will emphasize above all else the "I will keep you safer" credentials of the commander in chief; and at a time when Democrats are still striving to neutralize all this.

As with all conventions, the press will make much of each day's activities, but what really matters (80%+) is the presidential acceptance speech on Thursday.

And/but we want to telescope you all the way to the end of the week.

So …

What we will all know by Friday morning (or, at least, should) —

If Mike Gerson can definitively lay claim to being one of the three greatest presidential speechwriters of all time -- or, maybe, the best.

Who the bigger Nielsen draw is — "George Walker Bush in 'I Will Keep You Safer,'" or "John Forbes Kerry in 'Full Metal Jacket II'."

Whether the images of 9/11 are considered offensive or politically effective, to a city, to a nation, and to Chris Matthews.

If the already wobbling Kerry campaign can take the pressure of being behind — both in the CW and actually. (Note Note — we are being kind with "wobbling" — we could have gone with "disension-wracked" or something comparable.)

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