The Note

TODAY SCHEDULE AS OF 9:00 am (all times ET):

— 7:40 am: President Bush speaks at the National Prayer Breakfast, Washington, D.C. — 8:00 am: Gov. Dean attends a town hall meeting at the Lunch Studio, Flint, Mich. — 8:30 am: Gen. Clark greets supporters at the Castle Heights Military Academy, Lebanon, Tenn. — 11:00 am: President Bush speaks about homeland security, Charleston, S.C. — 11:00 am: Rep. Dennis Kucinich attends a state Democrats pre-caucus breakfast at Howard Johnson's, Seattle, Wash. — 11:30 am: Gov. Dean attends a town hall meeting at Jack and Patti Salter Community Center, Royal Oak, Mich. — 11:30 am: Gen. Clark meets with local Democrats at Coffee County Administration Building, Manchester, Tenn. — 12:00 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a rally with local at the Boys & Girls Club Gymnasium, Portland, Maine — 12:30 pm: Gov. Dean tours the Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, Mich. — 1:30 pm: President Bush returns to the White House — 2:00 pm: Gen. Clark meets with local Democrats at the Holiday Inn, Chattanooga, Tenn. — 3:00 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a State Democratic Party pre-caucus lunch at the Westin, Seattle, Wash. — 3:30 pm: Sen. Edwards speaks with students and faculty at Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tenn. — 5:30 pm: Gen. Clark visits Calhoun's on the River before the University of Tennessee basketball game, Knoxville, Tenn. — 6:00 pm: Gov. Dean attends a town hall meeting at the Northwest Activity Center, Detroit, Mich. — 7:00 pm: Sen. Edwards speaks about jobs at Patrick Henry High School, Roanoke, Va. — 7:00 pm: Gen. Clark attends the Tennessee-University of Connecticut women's basketball game, Knoxville, Tenn. — 7:30 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a rally at Gonzaga University, Seattle, Wash. — 8:30 pm: Gov. Dean attends a rally at Renaissance High School, Detroit, Mich. — 8:45 pm: Rep. Kucinich speaks at the Spokane County Democratic Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner, Spokane, Wash.

NEWS SUMMARY

The Note likes to project an image of being disciplined, principled, tough on crime and communists, and deeply supportive of family values.

But The Note also knows that if we don't spend EVERY day (re-)defining ourselves that way, one of our opponents will define us as weak, possessed of a cable-news-like sensibility, and permissive.

For those readers who don't work in politics or political journalism directly, allow us to let you in on the biggest dirty little secret in our world right now: There is extraordinary pressure to begin covering the Bush v. Kerry general election matchup immediately.

This pressure comes from many quarters and on many fronts.

But before anyone gets all hot and bothered about what the Massachusetts Supreme Court is doing to John Kerry's life, read the end of Tom DeFrank's New York Daily News story:

"Bush political aides say the President is walking a political tightrope. Espousing traditional values is an electoral winner, Bush believes. But a constitutional amendment or legislative remedies could backfire." LINK

"'There's a live-and-let-live attitude out there,' a Bush political source noted. 'Strengthening marriage is great for us. But when you start talking about what you're going to do about it, your opponents will make it look like you're punishing gays, which isn't great.'"

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