The Note

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The phrase "Just another manic Monday" was popularized by:

a. Helen Fielding b. Ron Brownstein c. the Bangles d. Bill Rafftery

(The correct answer is "c.")

Things that our politico-media culture accepts more readily than it once would have: deaths in Baghdad and national polls showing weaker Bush numbers.

(Note the lack of transition . . . )

If the struggle for racial equality was the great civil rights issue of the last century, many of those who are celebrating today's gay marriages in the Bay State surely consider the search for equal rights for lesbians and gays to be the 21st century battle.

One of the only known conversations ever between George W. Bush and John F. Kerry was about race -- in a Yale athletic facility when they were undergraduates. (See the Boston Globe bio of Kerry, or call David Thorne, for those details -- disputed though they are.)

Today, Bush and Kerry talk race again, speaking several hours apart in Topeka, Kan., on the anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision.

What we'll be watching for:

1. Which man is better able to give a speech of soaring rhetoric that demonstrates an understanding of the American Experience and the role that race has played in defining it?

2. Which man -- if either -- mentions gay rights?

3. Which man gets live cable coverage?

4. Which man won the battle for the Topeka school children? (See the awesome Los Angeles Times story on the Battle for Topeka, including John Kerry's grasping for the Bob Dole suite. LINK)

5. How Topekans handle the simultaneous presence of David Rogers, Dan Balz, Adam Nagourney, and Ed O'Keefe?

While the two candidates are on the ground in Kansas, the Gang of 500 waits to see if the pictures coming out of Provincetown, Boston, and Needham inspire a grassroots push for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage -- or not.

Both campaigns say that their man is on the side of a majority of the American people on gay marriage, although two Bush officials sounded particularly macho and muscular when they told ABC News over the weekend that John Kerry's stance and record would be used during this campaign to make the claim that he doesn't "share our values," with "our" being those of the American people, not (necessarily) The Note.

Both John Kerry and George Bush oppose legal gay marriage. Bush supports a constitutional amendment; Kerry doesn't.

Pictures, as have seen for the last several weeks out of Baghdad, can explode into the political bloodstream and change the macro dynamic.

Will the pictures coming out of Massachusetts do that?

Every four months (or so) The Note invokes the Rule of the Cliché, which entitles us to reach a conclusion that is the oldest and best in journalism: only time will tell.

With today's planned introduction of gay marriage in Massachusetts, here are some political facts of life (or, at least, some analysis).

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