The Note: Winner's Spoil

It's supposed to be Sen. Barack Obama's moment on the podium -- so why are the cameras trained on those who captured the silver and the bronze?

To the winner goes the spoils -- and this is fresh: With Denver approaching, and party unity elusive anyway, Obama's drama now includes the accumulated baggage of his failed opponents. (Surely he didn't think he could escape them in Hawaii. . . . )

Former Clinton strategist Mark Penn's words will live longer than his career in presidential politics: "I cannot imagine America electing a president during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values," Penn wrote in an e-mail he thought was private, recording the words Republicans won't have to utter, per the bombshell scoop by The Atlantic's Joshua Green.

"Let's explicitly own 'American' in our programs, the speeches, and the values. He doesn't," Penn wrote. "His roots to basic American values and culture are at best limited."

(You may recall, as Politico's Jonathan Martin reminds us, McCain's now-abandoned tagline: "John McCain: The American president Americans have been waiting for.")

Then there's John Edwards -- confirming his narcissism in spectacular fashion, and doing Obama the courtesy of acknowledging his affair and lying in time to make sure he won't be within a few hundred miles of Denver in two weeks.

But not necessarily making all the questions go away: There won't be a paternity test, yet Edwards still has a timeline problem:

"Some people close to the woman involved, Rielle Hunter, say they believe Edwards is still not telling the whole truth -- in particular, on the key point of whether campaign money was used to give Edwards' mistress a job," ABC's Brian Ross reported on "Good Morning America" Monday. "With no previous filmmaking experience, Hunter was paid $114,000 by Edwards' political action committee to produce a series of films for the Internet, that included many scenes of the two in flirtatious banter."

Said Hunter friend Pigeon O'Brien: "The affair began long, long, long before she was hired to work for the campaign -- almost half a year before she was hired to work on those videos."

And here are the Edwards and Clinton storylines crashing together: If Edwards had come clean (or been caught outright) last year, "I believe we would have won Iowa, and Clinton today would therefore have been the nominee," former Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson tells ABC's Brian Ross and Jake Tapper.

(Where does this notion take disappointed Clinton supporters in the run-up to Denver?)

"My instinct tells me that she probably would have done better had Sen. Edwards not been on the ballot in Iowa, but that wasn't the circumstances at the time," James Carville told Diane Sawyer on ABC's "Good Morning America" Monday.

"It would have been an awful big mess had [Edwards] been the nominee," Carville added, understating it.

This week will belong to Sen. John McCain -- if he can indeed own it. He's got the field to himself (and Mr. Putin is planning a game that's made for him). Now his team needs to show it can run one play at a time.

"Mr. McCain's campaign promised to take full advantage this week of Mr. Obama's absence -- for starters, Mr. McCain was scathing about his rival in his weekend radio address -- but up close and personal, Mr. McCain sounded as though he would not mind some August beach time himself," Elisabeth Bumiller writes in The New York Times.

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