The Note: Gotta Have Faith

If you have faith that four flags (plus one flag pin) can solve all of Barack Obama's patriotism problems . . .

You probably also believe that one phone call can solve all of Obama's Clinton problems.

That the Clinton campaign's infighting would have ended with the Clinton campaign.

That Obama's policy migration is set to end any time now.

Surely you're convinced that one denunciation will be enough to end the storm kicked up by one retired general (who isn't backing down, and who, at the very least, shrank Obama's short list by one).

You may even believe that the best way to tag someone a Swift-boater is with a member of the original cast (takes one to know one, perhaps, but why muddle the message?).

And that Obama's latest message -- on faith as policy -- will break through with Clark-like clarity.

An Obama zag -- one that zings: "Reaching out to evangelical voters, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is announcing plans that would expand President Bush's program steering federal social service dollars to religious groups and -- in a move sure to cause controversy -- support their ability to hire and fire based on faith," the AP's Jennifer Loven reports.

With Obama set to talk about faith in Ohio, more to set that agenda: "Between now and November, the Obama forces are planning as many as 1,000 house parties and dozens of Christian rock concerts, gatherings of religious leaders, campus visits and telephone conference calls to bring together voters of all ages motivated by their faith to engage in politics," John M. Broder reports in The New York Times. "It is the most intensive effort yet by a Democratic candidate to reach out to self-identified evangelical or born-again Christians and to try to pry them away from their historical attachment to the Republican Party."

Will his message break through?

Wesley Clark's comments are poor politics, poor timing, and poor luck for Sen. Barack Obama. Obama's latest effort to declare his love of country is snared in a made-for-the-news-environment thicket, when an Obama supporter went where no Democrat really wants to go.

Obama's effort to overcome the "old politics" of charge, counter-charge meaninglessness is now bogged down in one of those very cycles -- of his own side's making.

"Even as Obama repeated his call for a new brand of politics that avoids personal attacks, the day was dominated by an old-style clash over the military credentials of his Republican opponent," Peter Nicholas and Maeve Reston report in the Los Angeles Times.

Why it's toxic: "To this day, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., can't raise his arms above his shoulders because of injuries he suffered serving his country," ABC's David Wright reports."That's why comments made Sunday on CBS's 'Face the Nation' by an Obama supporter have kicked up a hornet's nest."

Tee up McCain, responding to Clark: "It's quite remarkable, but that's what the Obama campaign has been doing for a long period of time," McCain said while campaigning in Pennsylvania. "Fine -- but then don't turn around and say we're going to have a different kind of politics. This is politics as usual."

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