The Note: Lipstick on a Campaign

"Keep in mind that, technically had I meant it this way -- she would be the lipstick," Obama told a slightly confused Letterman, per ABC's Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller. "The failed policies of John McCain would be the pig. . . . I mean, just following the logic of this illogical situation."

This is a political game (which is not to say it won't work): "To accommodate Sarah Palin, John McCain's Straight Talk Express has now installed a fainting couch. It's not for the vice-presidential candidate -- she's plenty tough -- but for McCain aides who are rapidly perfecting the act of expiring on the cushions on her behalf at every sign of perceived sexism," Slate's John Dickerson writes.

"John McCain's campaign people are said to be suffering hurt feelings over Barack Obama's comment that McCain's policies are like lipstick on a pig. (And they are asking you to give money to make it better.)," the AP's Calvin Woodward writes. "Don't cry for them. And don't believe Obama was upset on behalf of the middle class when McCain joked that a rich person is one who makes $5 million. These are hardened pols. Their sensibilities are not so meltingly tender."

"As anyone knows, lipstick can smear," Mark Silva writes in the Chicago Tribune.

"Enough," Obama said in Virginia Wednesday. "I don't care what they say about me. But I love this country too much to let them take over another election with lies and phony outrage and Swift Boat politics. Enough is enough."

The fact is that Obama never said what the McCain camp is saying he did: He did not call Sarah Palin a pig.

"The Obama campaign also pointed out that McCain used the same words -- 'lipstick on a pig' -- last October to describe Sen. Hillary Clinton's health care plan," ABC's Kate Snow and Jake Tapper report. "Obama is finding, however, that the presidential race is no longer a two-man -- or a two-person -- race, and Palin's entrance has changed the dynamic."

Maybe it's woken him up: "Obama has uncorked some thunderous lines in recent campaign stops, showing a measure of emotion the normally unflappable candidate has seldom displayed. His speeches are now laced with indignation as he argues that anyone who sees John McCain and Sarah Palin as vehicles for change is being duped," Peter Nicholas writes in the Los Angeles Times. "Feistiness is what many Democratic elected officials have longed to see."

Maybe it's just in time: "It's more than an increased anxiety," Doug Schoen, a former top Bill Clinton pollster, tells Politico's David Paul Kuhn and Bill Nichols. "It's a palpable frustration. Deep-seated unease in the sense that the message has gotten away from them."

Newsweek's Howard Fineman adds up the Obama errors (non-kosher lipstick applications not included): "Declining to take federal financing for the general election. . . . Declining McCain's offer to hold ten town hall debates. . . . Failing to go all the way with the Clintons. . . . The 22-state strategy. . . . Failing to state a sweeping, but concrete, policy idea. . . . Remaining trapped in professor-observer speak. . . . Failing to attack McCain early."

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