The Note: A Warrior's Ethos

WASHINGTON, June 28

NEWS SUMMARY

Dear Mr. President:

Which would more completely blot out your speech -- a SCOTUS retirement announcement or a resolution to the Natalee Holloway case?

That's potentially the most important factor to consider as you do that final run-through of the text on the flight to the Tar Heel State.

Other things by which you shouldn't let yourself be distracted:

Matt Lauer said this on network TV this morning:

"Twenty-one after the hour. If you'd like to watch President Bush's address to the nation tonight on Iraq, you can see it at 8:00 Eastern Time on MSNBC. Back in a moment on a Tuesday morning, this is Today, on NBC."

(A Note program Note: At this writing, as far as we know, here's what is on NBC instead of you:

Average Joe: The Joes Strike Back LINK

"Stunning 26-year-old red-headed Anna is looking for love. Can she find it with an average Joe? Watch as this unsuspecting model is surprised by the arrival, not of traditional leading men, but by a swarm of well-intentioned average Joes."

"The enthusiastic guys hope to woo and win her over with their charm and personalities. But first, they'll have to navigate through an all-new series of dramatic challenges, outrageous surprises - and their toughest competition yet - seven strikingly handsome jocks who are cocky and confident that Anna will only have eyes for them."

"Plus, each week one lucky Joe gets a total makeover and surprises Anna with his new look. With plenty of romance, a trip to Tahiti and new twists at every turn, this new season promises lots of summer fun. Hunks beware, the Joes are fighting back!")

Also, Mr. President, don't take your eye off of the ball to focus on:

The Boston Globe's obsession with Gov. Romney's political life; Gov. Vilsack's pending DLC ascendancy; or Sen./Leader/Dr. Frist's rumination and constitutional/nuclear taunt.

Instead, please focus on what some people call "the speech," but we call "The Speech."

There was a time early on in your national political career where it was fashionable for the Gang of 500 to knowingly remind each other that you always rose to the moment when a big speech was called for.

More recently, sir, as Dan Bartlett is honest enough to tell you, you have had some misses. Perhaps the main measure of success tonight is whether or not you offer some effective straight talk about the violence people are seeing on their TV sets each morning and night. We're quite sure you understand that.

Your goal: to provide Americans with some context for those images. Our sense is that you will seek to explain how, despite the violence, Iraqis are meeting important deadlines in the political process -- including deadlines that some handwringers in the Senate (most of them know who they are) have suggested be postponed (elections and the transfer of sovereignty). You'll likely suggest that those naysers represent a defeatism that you do not share.

The left is already trashing the speech, calling the troops at Ft. Bragg "props" and the media "stooges" for even covering your talk.

But the nation is at war and you are the Commander-in-Chief. Events on the ground matter, of course -- but so do your words. Democrats and left-leaning independents matter, of course -- okay, maybe they don't all that much in this context. Tonight is about winning back the base, and turning some of those 55-45-against poll numbers back around.

As your friend Jacques Chirac would say, "Bon chance."

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