The Note: Storm Before the Calm

Still -- the big trends don't look great for McCain. "While John McCain works to avoid the campaign undertow of this President Bush, he's risking the political trap that snared the first one," writes the AP's Walter Mears (a byline any student of journalism should treasure). "When the economy is sliding toward recession, it is going to be the win-or-lose election issue, no matter how well versed a nominee is in matters of foreign policy and defense."

Friday figures to be an uncomfortable day for McCain, R-Ariz.. It's the 40th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, and while McCain (and Clinton) head to Memphis for the commemoration, with the visit comes fresh reminders of McCain's 1983 vote against making King's birthday a federal holiday.

"Most Republicans in the House voted for the holiday (89 voted for the holiday, 77 opposed), though all three Arizona House Republicans were opposed. Reps. Dick Cheney, R-Wyoming, and Newt Gingrich, R-Georgia, voted for the holiday," ABC's Jake Tapper reports.

"Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, said his thinking about Dr. King had evolved since 1983," Michael Cooper reports in The New York Times. "The visit [to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference] comes as Mr. McCain plans to begin campaigning in African-American communities that usually get little attention from Republicans."

What did he get for his week? "In the lead-up to McCain's 'Service to America' tour, many expected fawning events where McCain could cast himself as a war-tested veteran, ready on Day One for the duties of commander in chief," Maeve Reston and Robin Abcarian write in the Los Angeles Times.

"Instead, McCain embarked on a meandering journey that began Monday and ends Saturday," Reston and Abcarian continue. "Each speech was a catalog of sin, then secular salvation, mostly given in made-for-TV settings where he spoke of his dawning awareness of a purpose larger than himself -- serving his country. The narrative that he told was a classic tale of redemption through selflessness, as old as Shakespeare (Prince Hal, anyone?)."

McCain did manage to flesh out his bio with some unique details. "There aren't too many politicians in America who would dare admit they once frequented a strip club," Time's Michael Scherer writes.

"Fewer still would cop to dating one of the dancers, especially if she had a nickname like the 'Flame of Florida,' or a habit of packing a switchblade in her purse. And among that select crowd, there are barely any who call themselves conservative Republicans, or would ever dare dream of running for President."

Now that this is known publicly -- how long before it has to change? "Weeks after clinching the Republican presidential nomination, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) still has no Secret Service protection and has not requested it, the head of the agency told Congress yesterday," Michael D. Shear and Christopher Lee write in The Washington Post.

"McCain's choice not to request Secret Service protection has been mentioned on some blogs and was the subject of an article in the Arizona Republic newspaper. But it has not been reported by most news organizations, in part because of requests from his aides not to draw attention to the situation."

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