The Note

With John Kerry expected to win at least some of the states voting tomorrow, the macro question is, how many of the day's contests does the Bay Stater have to take in order to winnow the field and become, in the eyes of the CW, the de facto nominee?

In the Boston Globe, Tom Oliphant sets the Feb. 3 bar in an awfully Kerry-friendly place today: "Carrying the day for Kerry probably means winning four states; a viable opponent will probably have to win two." LINK

The 19 (and the wider Gang of 500) are truly torn: are we in extreme "winnowing" mode or are we in "let's keep this going" mode?

And how do we balance caring about delegate accumulation versus our obsession with wins, wins, wins?

To answer, the group turned to that kitschy and tried-and-true method of divining the political truth: the Magic Eight Ball. LINK

By the sheerest of coincidences, there are 20 plausible checkerboarded outcomes on Tuesday and precisely 20 Magic Eight Ball answers.

So, here are the possible outcomes -- roughly from biggest Kerry day to worst Kerry day -- and the pre-determined verdict the Ball came up with, regarding the frontrunner's hold on the nomination:

Other Deep Thoughts (with apologies to Jack Handy):

1. We agree with Dr. Dean -- Roy Neel is a great guy.

But to simultaneously make your last-stand attack against John Kerry that he is too beholden to special interests and your defense of Roy Neel's recent lobbying that he is a good guy and he has held other jobs -- well, let's just say that it is causing some cognitive dissonance for your traveling press corps and others.

2. Now that the www.Trippi spell is broken, we can say it loudly and clearly: Dr. Dean's performance on "Meet" yesterday was, by Gang of 500 standards, even WORSE than the historically bad one he had on the show right before he formally announced his candidacy last year: contradictory, petulant, non-responsive, small, and unpresidential (or so thought the Gang….).

3. We understand why BC04RNC is trying to strangle the Kerry baby in the crib and define him as an out-of-touch liberal before the country gets to know him as anything else -- but don't they run the risk of using up all the good stuff too early? And do the President's pollsters really say that attacking past support for the nuclear freeze (!) tests well?

4. The stories in the Washington Post and New York Times over the weekend about the candidates (particularly Kerry) taking "special interest" money had nothing new in them.

Once again, if people (the media, the other candidates, voters) want to change the standards of acceptable behavior regarding fundraising, more power to 'em.

But there is nothing unusual or hypocritical about politicians raising money to pay for campaigns from people who have money -- rich people (the whole Willie Sutton/banks thing....).

Now, the recycled story from The Hill about Kerry allegedly taking an unusual public policy action on behalf of a contributor right around the time he received some contributions is potentially an important storyline -- the alleged/apparent quid pro quo aspect. The careers of many politicians are filled with examples such as this -- including the career of our current president.

The standard for this type of thing is of course the explicitness of the quid pro quo, the appropriateness of the action, the unusual quality of the action, and, for some, the timing.

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