The Note

Today's Schedule (all times Eastern):

—9:30 am: Senator John Kerry officially announces his presidential candidacy, Charleston, S.C. —9:30 am: Senate convenes for legislative business, D.C. —9:45 am: Off-camera White House press gaggle with Scott McClellan —10:00 am: First Lady Laura Bush meets with the New York City Teaching Fellows, New York City —11:00 am: Senator Joe Lieberman unveils his health care plan, Silver Spring, Md. —12:00 pm: Congressman Dennis Kucinich speaks at the University of Iowa, Iowa City —12:30 pm: On-camera White House press briefing with Scott McClellan —12:30 pm: Secretary Tom Ridge delivers remarks on reorganization at the Department of Homeland Security, D.C. —1:00 pm: Californians Against the Costly Recall holds events to preview its new television ad featuring Senator Dianne Feinstein, West Hollywood and San Francisco —1:35 pm: President Bush participates in the presentation of the first game football of the 2003 National Football League season, D.C. —3:00 pm: Congressman Kucinich speaks at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa —6:15 pm: Senator Kerry officially announces his presidential candidacy, Des Moines


Since there's that whole Labor-Day-kick-off thing, and it's the beginning of a very big month, let's clear the air with a very big a-hem of reality: the three biggest figures in American politics for the next five weeks will be George W. Bush, Howard Dean, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Sure, John Kerry (who meta-announces today) and the other Democratic presidential candidates matter mucho; as do Gray Davis, Senator McClintock, and Dan Schnur; and there are plenty of kings and queens of the Hill who will make a lot of noise. (And Rep. Bill Janklow's court appearance is scheduled for 2:30 pm ET today).

And world and national players who have any piece of the Iraq story, other international hotspots, or the economy are sure to be big players too.

But no matter what happens in war and peace and prosperity (and The Note will do its level best to cover those things as they intersect with politics), our Big Three are going to be the Boys of September and into October, after which, we bet the political world looks so different we will all be recalibrating.

Bush, because he's the commander-in-chief, because he's wrestling with the changing politics of Iraq, and because he has that budget deficit to deal with as he looks to get Congress moving on a legislative agenda headed by energy and Medicare.

Oh, and also he is the best political fundraiser of all time.

Dean because he is likely to raise twice as much (and maybe three times as much!) as any Democrat in the third quarter — which we'll know come mid-October, and that will be a political earthquake.

The Note is a big believer in the nearly iron-clad rule of modern American politics: the person who raises the most money in the year before the voting always wins the nomination (and Howard Dean will be that man).

Not to mention that come January, when everyone else runs out of time to raise money the old fashioned ways, Joe Trippi (after Dean is — inevitably — attacked) will put up the bat, says there are three weeks to go, and the money will pour in — whether Dean has decided to take the match or not.

And Dean matters lots because no one can give a linear explanation of how he's denied the nomination — he might not get the nomination, but can anyone write a simple sentence explaining why?

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