The Note: Gone Fishin' (2006)

WASHINGTON, August 11

After an eventful political week (something happened with Joe Lieberman, if we recall) and in the midst of the elevated terror threat blotting out everything for the foreseeable future, The Note is going dark after today, until right after Labor Day.

While we're gone: read a novel, hug a loved one, practice flying without lotion, and watch the first season of "Gilmore Girls" on DVD.

Or:

1. Make flash cards in order to memorize all 32-58 competitive House races. LINK

2. Read back issues of The Note and see if we have EVER published a real leaked memo. LINK

3. Pre-buy a copy (or two) of "The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008," the upcoming Random House book by John F. Harris of the Washington Post and Mark Halperin of ABC News. LINK (Read time.com's Mike Allen here for his take on the book -- and on The Note -- in his latest blog post: LINK)

4. Send Sen. Elizabeth Dole an "atta-girl!!" e-mail. LINK

5. Get in on the ground floor of HOTSOUP. LINK

6. Tell anyone at a Hampton's cocktail party who wants you to speculate about what happens if Senator McCain or Senator Clinton doesn't run for president, "Why don't we just wait and see?"

As for the latest in the Old New Normal (or, perhaps, the New New Normal, or, as the New York Times calls it, an "August surprise"), there may be very little or no impact on voters come November, but the all out effort from Bush, Cheney, Rove, Mehlman, to seize this moment speaks volumes about the Republican game plan - one that looks quite similar to the party's successful efforts in 2002 and 2004.

But as our ABC News/Washington Post polling indicates and as Democratic pollster Mark Mellman tells the Washington Post this morning, 2006 is a significantly different political climate than '02 and '04. (He also indicates terror-related breaking news causes him some political agita, but, then again, he is prone to that.)

Democrats continue to pound the idea that the unpopular war in Iraq (and America's 130,000 troops there) is a distraction from the most important task of being able to nimbly deal with every potential danger that threatens America's security.

Republicans are eager to debate the war on terrorism (even if their advantage on that issue has been diminished) and Iraq as a piece of that war rather than simply debating the continued troubling news out of Iraq.

Democrats chided the RNC yesterday for exploiting the terror news by blast emailing a fundraising appeal by Rudy Giuliani during yesterday's unfolding events. The RNC blamed the poor timing on a low-level staffer and acknowledged that the appeal (which had been in the pipeline for days) should not have been sent.

And hawkish Joe Lieberman quickly put the news of day to use yesterday to explain why his security policies are precisely what the country needs right now and why he continues to pursue his independent candidacy in Connecticut after losing Tuesday's Democratic primary.

One Democratic operative working on 2006 midterm election strategy offers this Frank-Rich-column-in-the-making timeline to The Note this morning.

A profile in politicizing terror:

Wednesday: Weeks after the White House learns that the London terror plot will be uncovered, Cheney says Lamont victory will encourage "al Qaeda types."

7:42 a.m., Thursday: The White House announces that the threat level has been raised to 'Red.'

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