The Note: Serve Somebody

So let's get this straight:

One candidate is swiping a policy page from President Bush . . .

As well as a page from Karl Rove's playbook . . .

And is trying to swipe a Bush Cabinet secretary . . .

While The Wall Street Journal editorial page places him as the president's heir . . .

The president himself swipes one of that candidate's funkier moves . . .

(And the candidate is letting him have it.)

Hint -- it's the candidate who is currently in the United States of America.

And it's the candidate who right now might be sparking an interesting debate -- if only he could break through some surrogate silliness.

The inherent problem with the message-a-day campaign is that today's only registers if yesterday's story is closed. (And why, with Sen. John McCain stumping where the voters ain't, is he talking faith-patriotism-service, not jobs-gas prices-economy?)

In the meantime, Sen. Barack Obama is not quite getting past retired Gen. Wesley Clark's Sunday remarks -- and he can blame an aggressive McCain campaign, a stubborn Clark, another off-message surrogate -- plus his very own political instincts.

All of which combined to let McCain up the ante, just before landing in Colombia (when a political hit, by unwritten rule, would be verboten).

"I think it's up to Sen. Obama now to not only repudiate him, but to cut him loose," McCain told reporters in the airspace between Indianapolis, Ind., and Cartagena, Colombia.

Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., may have made things worse for his advice for McCain to "calm down" about his military record: "Don't be standing up and uttering your political views and implying that all the people in the military support them, because they don't," Webb said on MSNBC.

(And why the hint of a shift on how strongly Obama is denouncing Clark? Doesn't this just keep the story alive a bit longer than he wants? Obama is right that it's not keeping Ohioans up at night -- but it is keeping a small group of Chicagoans awake past their bedtimes.)

Might the Clark story get one more turn? "Republicans sent e-mails to reporters suggesting new avenues of inquiry: Did Obama mislead the public when he said at Tuesday's news conference that the patriotism speech he gave the day before was not a response to the Clark dust-up?" Peter Nicholas writes in the Los Angeles Times. "If you care deeply about these matters, rest assured there's more to come."

This means more questions for Obama as he turns his focus to national service in a speech in Colorado Springs. Per the Obama campaign: "He will lay out his comprehensive national service agenda, which will create new opportunities for Americans to serve and direct that service to our most pressing national challenges."

And new questions for Obama's home loan, in are-you-sure-there's-a-there-a-there-there look at the mortgage deal he scored in 2005 (for the home with the Rezko-expanded yard).

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