The Note




When in this world the headlines read Of those who's hearts are filled with greed And rob and steal from those in need To right this wrong with blinding speed goes

-- famous Thai poem, or, perhaps, lyrics from the theme song to "Underdog"

Republicans who claim Proximity to Bush continue to offer up blind quotes fretting over the ability of the BC04/White House message machine to frame the debate in a disciplined and agenda-setting manner.

It's not only the real and perceived Democratic Party unity contrasted against these GOP public concerns that have Democrats a bit more giddy than they should be.

And it isn't just the new specter of the Spanish election returns (Check with Matt Dowd on any depressing news in the cross tabs.)

Instead, turn from current events to high school physics to get some insight into the state of play.

vec-tor (n.): "A quantity, such as velocity, completely specified by a magnitude and a direction." LINK

The relative directions the political vectors of President Bush and John Kerry have been heading (both in the polls and in the minds of the Gang of 500) and the speed with which they have been heading that way (read: fast) for all of 2004 are causing much of the aforementioned rumblings — despite Dowd's warnings for the past year about the president falling behind in the horserace polling.

But, perhaps it is in Newton's First Law of Motion where we can find the best explanation for the elephantine hand wringing:

"Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it." LINK

Of course an external force can be something unscheduled like the capture of Osama bin Laden, or a major upswing in the Dow that sets the economy on a course to create 2.6 million new jobs this year. (For now, set aside those Spanish elections and the latest gasoline price reports … .)

But looking at the calendar, it is perfectly likely that the President will not be able to change the direction of his political vector until he gives his acceptance speech in the World's Most Famous Arena at the Republican National Convention in September.

It is this current trajectory of motion that gives Democrats a sense of hope and opportunity and Republicans a bit of heartburn.

Because of the direction and speed of the vectors, Kerry now has the best of both worlds: the aura of the meta-frontrunner, plus the favorable press coverage of the underdog. (Remember: The Note chronicles what IS, not necessarily what ought to be . . . )

President Bush is NOT the underdog in this race, and it is next to impossible to imagine him ever declaring himself to be. But that means that John Kerry is not every day in every way being held to the same level of accountability as the incumbent.

However, it would do us all a bit of good to fully shake off the lingering effects of the Democratic nomination season and remind ourselves that it is still more likely than not that George W. Bush will emerge victorious in November. (NOTE TO THE DENSE AND SKIMMING: THIS IS OUR MONEY GRAPH!!)

First and foremost the Republican electoral college advantage places the president in a better pole position than Sen. Kerry.

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