The Note: Road Warrior

You know it's summer when . . .

The most interesting thing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has done lately is get a haircut (yes, we know, she's moving from left to right) . . .

While the most interesting part of an Obama event is that he shared it with two people on the long short list.

Team McCain casts Sen. Barack Obama as President Bush on foreign policy (no, really) . . .

While Sen. John McCain himself praises Obama (seriously).

McCain aides are tussling with reporters over camera shots . . .

But somehow not acting to can another rogue surrogate (when will Team McCain learn the technological wonder that is Google?).

And the Rev. Jesse Jackson's mouth. . .

Is causing as much trouble as Sen. Elizabeth Dole's brain.

A great day, all in all, to put out some pretty good fundraising news: Obama raised $52 million in June, his campaign announced Thursday morning -- a number that should quiet questions about whether rejecting public financing was a good idea, at least for the time being. (It was announced, naturally, as part of a fundraising appeal.)

For the scorekeepers among us -- per ABC's Jake Tapper, this far exceeds Obama's $22 million May -- as well as McCain's personal record of $22 million in June, not to mention previous reporting that put Obama's June in the $30 million range.

It also approaches the $55 million Obama raised in February -- but doesn't come close to the $100 million at least one Obama fundraiser was predicting. Given that this was the first (almost) full month that he had the nomination, was a record month impossible?

(And we'll need the actual report to see the burn rate, and to count the big Clinton names. .)

Money aside, what's happening in this slow summer stretch really does matter in a big way. By controlling the direction of the race's discussion, every day that goes by allows Obama, D-Ill., to answer some of the questions that surround his candidacy for himself.

In a race that's approximately five times more about Obama than it is about McCain, that may be all he needs to do.

Team McCain tries to answer some questions for Obama on Thursday, with high-profile surrogates holding a 3:30 pm ET press conference in Washington to unveil a new video: "The Obama Iraq Documentary: Whatever the Politics Demand."

Says a McCain aide: "The video doesn't lie, and taken together, it presents a candidate willing to let his political ambition dictate his position on what is obviously the most critical national security issue we face."

And the reception that awaits Obama in Iraq may be mixed: Abroad, at least, the details matter.

"There was, as Mr. Obama prepared to visit here, excitement over a man who is the anti-Bush in almost every way: a Democrat who opposed a war that many Iraqis feel devastated their nation. And many in the political elite recognize that Mr. Obama shares their hope for a more rapid withdrawal of American forces from Iraq," Sabrina Tavernise and Richard A. Oppel Jr. write in The New York Times. "But his support for troop withdrawal cuts both ways, reflecting a deep internal quandary in Iraq: for many middle-class Iraqis, affection for Mr. Obama is tempered by worry that his proposal could lead to chaos in a nation already devastated by war."

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