The Note: Bad Humor

Obama takes a swipe at McCain, in advance of Obama's Iraq trip: "I'll recall the visit he made last year in which he was surrounded by helicopters and SWAT teams and came back and reported how safe everything was in Baghdad. You know, I don't think that that was indicative of what was actually happening on the ground at that time," Obama said Sunday, per Miller.

While we're ruminating about the base -- what does it say that McCain knew that he needed to say "yet" in this sentence? "I count myself as a conservative Republican, yet I view it to a large degree in the Theodore Roosevelt mold," he told The New York Times' Adam Nagourney and Michael Cooper.

Write Nagourney and Cooper: "The views expressed by Mr. McCain in the 45-minute interview here Friday illustrated the challenge the probable Republican presidential nominee faces as he tries to navigate the sensibilities of his party's conservative base and those of the moderate and independent voters he needs to defeat Senator Barack Obama, his Democratic rival."

How will Club for Growth read this? Is McCain open to higher taxes as part of a Social Security deal? (Or is Carly Fiorina off the reservation again?) Bloomberg's Al Hunt: "In an interview, Carly Fiorina, a top adviser, explains that any tax increases on 'middle- and working-class' Americans are off limits. She says if a bipartisan coalition is 'creative enough' to fashion tax increases on wealthier Americans, that may prove palatable."

The base likes this one -- maybe too much: "President Bush's failed push to privatize Social Security has not deterred John McCain from putting forward the same idea -- and from risking a similar political disaster," Peter Wallsten writes in the Los Angeles Times. "Democrats are gearing up to turn McCain's stand on Social Security, and his willingness to consider a privatization plan, into a key campaign issue."

The new effort, per Wallsten: "On Tuesday, a coalition of Democratic strategists, labor unions and liberal activist groups that helped defeat Bush's efforts in 2005 plans to launch a similar campaign. They intend to target McCain and dozens of GOP congressional candidates who have supported proposals to allow workers to divert some of their payroll taxes out of the Social Security system and into private investment accounts. The groups, coordinating with the Democratic National Committee and strategists for the party's presumed presidential nominee, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, will focus on organizing seniors -- a key voting bloc in Florida and several other battleground states and one that has been courted heavily by McCain."

Phil Gramm may have talked himself out of a formal campaign role, but he's won himself a star turn in a new DNC video.

And The New Yorker cover wins a slot as talkfest controversy of the day. Barry Blitt's cover illustration of an Oval Office fist bump -- complete with the Osama portrait, some choice headwear, a smoldering American flag, and Michelle packing heat -- drew immediate condemnation from the Obama campaign. "Tasteless and offensive," said spokesman Bill Burton.

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