Focused and Pensive, Not Peevish or Irritated

NOTED NOW

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET)

FUTURES CALENDAR

Morning Show Wrap

Evening Newscasts Wrap

29 days until election day

1 days until the vice presidential debate

4 days until the second presidential debate

9 days until the third presidential debate

NEWS SUMMARY

It's tempting to focus on this week's two debates, and lose sight of everything else.

But — as always, remembering the distinction between "what is" and "what ought to be" — The Note urges you to please drive safely and think like the Gang of 500 does.

Don't ignore these pending questions:

1. How long will the uncharacteristically murderous, hand-wringing, shoe-on-the-other-foot Repubican blind quotes continue to plague the Bush campaign?

2. What will today's ABC News inaugural tracking poll show? (It set to be released this evening on World News Tonight with Peter Jennings and on ABCNEWS.com. The survey, based on 600 general population interviews per night, is a series of consecutive, one-night polls reported in a multi-night rolling average.)

3. Will Friday's pre-debate employment numbers be salvation or horror for the president?

4. Is the press filter starting to screen out negative, misleading Bush campaign attacks on national security and taxes, blunting their impact?

5. When does Bush win a news cycle? (Overcoming the "another poll shows the race tight as Kerry surges" storyline will be tough … )

6. How spooked should conservatives be that even a classic Drudge Sunday float (about John Kerry allegedly cheating during the debate!) didn't seem to work?

7. Jut how much amplification will the now serendipitously-timed Springsteen et al. tour give the Kerry poll movement?

8. What does it mean that the last 72 hours have seen more of Karl Rove on the record than Karen Hughes?

9. How much grief did the staff of The Note save itself (from Lynne Cheney alone!) by dropping at the last minute our original, brilliant moniker for the veep debate: Shrek vs. Breck?

10. What unexpected Nixon-goes-to-China endorsements is each campaign holding in the proverbial back pocket?

11. Whither the Columbus Dispatch and other key paper endorsements?

12. In the wake of the Sunday New York Times stunner on the thickness of aluminum tubes, are there more investigative stories in the hoppers of major news organizations on Bush or Kerry?

13. Does anyone in the dominant media "root" for Cheney over Edwards? (If you can't list the reasons the press will be rooting for the Tar Heel, you have been asleep for at least four years … )

14. What state polls will pop out of the woodwork — and when — to show battlegrounds tightening up like the national numbers?

15. Do those who remain unswayed by Bernie Goldberg need any more evidence than gained by comparing the press' coverage of Zell Miller (almost universally negative, typical of what conservative Democrats get … ) to today's New York Times slobbering over Lincoln Chaffee (who gets the normal glowing coverage afforded moderate, heretic Republicans)? LINK

16. Who will be dumb enough not to read and take to heart and head this passage from John Harris' must-read Washington Post story on the Buckeye State ground game?

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