The Note





While ordinary Americans are putting the finishing touches on their summer vacations and looking under the sofa cushions for extra pennies for gas money, the Gang of 500 — the crème de la crème of the Chattering Class — is busy asking each other questions.

Many of these questions — or, rather, their answers — can only be known after tonight's presidential address on Iraq.

Bush's appropriate theatre is the United States Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. The speech begins at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Still, there is a whole day to kill before POTUS Speaks, so if you don't already know, here's what's being batted around:

1. Will President Bush rise to the occasion with tonight's Big Moment speech (a la the 2000 convention speech and the post-9/11 address to Congress) or fall below "where he needs to be," as in this year's State of the Union and his last press conference?

2. How much of the speech will be taken up by (or overshadowed by) news of violence out of Iraq today?

3. Any live broadcast network coverage?

4. How perfectly timed is the new ABC News/Washington Post poll and just how hard will it impact in the next several news cycles?

5. How much will the Establishment press wring its collective hands over the question of whether John Kerry is being "overshadowed" by Iraq and is having "trouble getting his message out," this week — as if he has one (yet)?

6. When will the Kerry campaign learn that how they handle breaking news stories whose timing they don't control could make the difference between winning and losing? And does the candidate even understand the concept?

7. Did Howard Dean really come up with the delay-the-formal-nomination strategy, as Time reports?

8. Did those Kerry bio spots work or not? (Kerry folks say "yes," Bush folks say "no.")

9. Is the U.N. resolution on Iraq on a fast track or a slow burn?

10. Would you please repeat after us: "Don't alienate the mayor of the city hosting your convention." (Say it, then repeat, oh, 500 times … .)

11. Are both campaigns really changing their ad traffic this week or next? (Bush to bash Kerry on Patriot Act, Kerry to go from bio to issues … )

12. Which interests you more — David Sanger's Nostradamusing on North Korea or Adriana's death? LINK

13. Isn't Elisabeth Bumiller due for a White House Letter in the New York Times that quotes Parsky, Freeman, and Betts explaining how in touch with real people the president is, rather than another one quoting Hagel, Chafee, and Lugar saying how much 43 is in the bubble?

14. Will the President find out that Speaker Hastert told the New York Times that, in dealing with Mr. Bush, "You have to get through a little Texas cocky … ."?

15.Will the President find out that Time magazine reports that during last week's pep talk on the Hill, members "checked e-mail on their BlackBerrys or read newspapers on their laps while Bush rambled"?

16. If we gave the Wall Street Journal editorial board a big sign that says "President Bush signed McCain-Feingold-Shays-Meehan into law," would they post it in their conference room and remember to cite it whenever they write about the measure?

17. Does Newsweek believe in "innocent until proven guilty"?

18. How big and loud will the Zinni echo chamber be?

19. How significant is it that Ralph Nader supported two pro-Iraq war Democrats for Kerry's veep on "This Week"?

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