The Note: Base Instincts

Also helping with the base: The Washington Times has a loooong take on McCain and Iraq -- including details of a previously undisclosed letter he wrote to President Bush calling for a "surge" in December 2006.

"Sen. John McCain, who watched from a prison camp as America failed to deploy the overwhelming force necessary to win the Vietnam War, seized the moment after Republicans lost Congress in 2006 to push President Bush not to make the same mistake," per the Times report. Mr. McCain sent a private letter to Mr. Bush on Dec. 12, 2006, that challenged the president to show the "will" to win the Iraq war by deploying 20,000 troops into Baghdad and the Sunni Triangle to beat back a growing insurgency."

Could McCain write a better narrative? "The next three years [starting in late 2003] would set David against Goliath, the 5-foot-7-inch, 165-pound senator from Arizona against the heavyweights in the White House and the Pentagon, the very men and women who had shaped the strategy that was failing. He got little help from his Senate colleagues."

Wouldn't you want this guy at the helm, too? "Steve Schmidt has made a career out of not being a creature of Washington. If the 2008 campaign were an action film, he would play the tough-talking Steven Seagal character, an idiosyncratic hero who is duty-bound to rescue the desperate from burning buildings (which Schmidt literally did last Christmas), but who longs to retreat into his easygoing world of family and suburbia," Lois Roman writes in The Washington Post.

Says Karl Rove: "Since the changes, things are happening. . . . A guy who'd been in and out of the campaign for months told me he quickly saw a new crispness and order to the operation. He knew it when he walked in one day and there was a large calendar with daily message points plotted for several weeks -- a sign of strategic thinking that hadn't been so evident before."

"In his speech, Obama really has one task: he has to make himself part of the great American story, so as to convince the average voter that he's 'one of us,' " Steven Stark writes in the Boston Phoenix. "So far, Obama has failed to construct much of a narrative to tie himself to the working-class voters who will decide the election."

Obama would also much rather save the silly drama for another day: He probably has more to accomplish at his convention -- and what better place to start than with the Clintons? (Unless -- as is increasingly the rumor among those who don't know but might hear -- it's going to be her on the ticket after all . . . )

The latest Denver strategy: "The plan now calls for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) to release her delegates next Wednesday afternoon at 1 p.m.," Lynn Sweet writes for the Chicago Sun-Times. "That's the day after her keynote address before the Democratic National Convention. That means delegates can do what they want during the Thursday roll call. Clinton herself will cast her superdelegate vote for Obama."

The Clinton folks are playing it right by Obama (but how weird is it for vote-counters for a rival candidate to be roaming the convention floor?): "In an unusual move, Hillary Clinton's staff is creating a 40-member 'whip team' at the Denver Democratic convention to ensure that her supporters don't engage in embarrassing anti-Obama demonstrations during the floor vote on her nomination," Politico's Glenn Thrush reports.

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