b. Howard Dean's success on the war is allowing that issue to dominate the debate, crowding out anti-Dean attacks from Gephardt and Kerry on entitlements and taxes that, in a "normal" election year, with a "normal" target candidate, would be doing serious damage to Dean's chances.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal , television pretty boy Alan Murray does some Karl Rove code breaking, pointing out that from Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt on the left, to Joe Lieberman on the right, Democrats have all placed various body parts in the president's trap on tax cuts (although, since it is a family newspaper, Murray restricts himself to "feet").
Murray says that "as long as economic policy remains up front, Mr. Bush will be driving," because the deficit doesn't cut as an issue, and the Democrats "are all stuck peddling responsibility and sacrifice, an unpleasant alternative to Mr. Bush's cash on the barrel."
And we are less than 48 hours away from the Gauzy Growth figures of the 3rd quarter that will change the presidential race as we have known it.
Students of history — including Bill Clinton — will recall that the image of Democrats as weak on defense and in favor of tax increases was a big part of what kept the party out of the White House for many years.
And the "values" piece, believe you us, is on the way too.
Still, there IS that Iraq stuff.
With a presidential news conference laid on this morning, the White House hopes to deal with the Iraqi issue with POTUS force, and, presumably, deal with the unpleasantness in the morning papers.
"The White House strategy, one senior official noted, depends heavily on choking off those funds, guns and explosives so that the Hussein loyalists are gradually starved of resources. 'To look at the plan,' the senior official said, 'the starvation effect should have started a few months ago. It didn't — and that's something to worry about,'" quotes the New York Times ' David Sanger. LINK
"'I am not happy with the kind of information we are getting,'" a "senior intelligence official" tells the Washington Post 's Milbank and Ricks. LINK
As for the inside game, The Note can't resist touting two personnel moves within the Democratic firmament that are H-U-G-E.
(Journalist) Michael Kramer to the Clark campaign.
Academician David Morehouse to the Kerry campaign.
More on both below.
President Bush meets with the president of Romania this morning, and will hold a Rose Garden press conference at 11:15 a.m. He will also attend a bill signing ceremony for the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act. Tonight, he attends a dinner with ambassadors and Muslim leaders.
General Clark gives a speech on health care at the University of New Hampshire this morning. He then heads to New York City for a fundraiser with young professionals.
Senator Kerry attends a pair of house parties in New Hampshire.
Governor Dean campaigns in Boulder, Colorado.
Congressman Gephardt campaigns in Iowa.
Senator Lieberman campaigns in New Hampshire. Hadassah Lieberman campaigns in South Carolina.
Senator Edwards campaigns in Iowa and New Mexico.
Congressman Kucinich campaigns in New Hampshire.
Reverend Sharpton is in New York City with no public events.
Ambassador Moseley Braun is in Chicago with no public events.
ABC News Vote 2004: The Invisible Primary: