Noted For Honesty

On occasion, ABC’s the Note gives some refreshing detail into the minds of the political press corp, called the Gang of 500. While parody of the press, the Note coveys several kernels of truth in it’s opening today. It is found here in its entirety.

Ken Mehlman was not invited to Sunday’s meeting of the Journalists Division of the Gang of 500.

Had the president’s campaign manager been in attendance, however, he would not have been surprised at what was discussed.

The meeting — held, per usual, on the top floor of Lauriol Plaza — did have a speaker phone set up, so those in Martha’s Vineyard, the Hamptons, Jackson Hole, Nantucket, Kennebunkport, and aboard the Kerry train could participate.

In fact, somehow Mary Beth Cahill got the dial-in number, and she was able to listen in (while she leafed through the clips and some expense reports … ).

Cahill, too, wasn’t the least bit surprised about what went on.

First, the group concluded that Friday’s job numbers pretty much give them license through election day to frame all stories about the economy to convey a 43-reliving-41 job creation failure.

Along with the deficit, the rising numbers of the uninsured, and the “lack of courage” to raise taxes on the wealthy, the Journalist Division settled upon the storyline — voters have judged the president a bungler at guiding the economy.

Second, with the chaos in Iraq back on the front pages and on TV, the Division decided to remember that much of the president’s weak job approval number and “wrong track” persistence, is based on the mess in Iraq. Everyone agreed to return that point to center stage leading up to the end of August as a good way to frame the Republican convention narrative.

Third, with only three dissenting votes, the Division agreed that until weapons of mass destruction are found in Iraq (thus restoring Mr. Bush’s credibility) John Kerry’s best attempts to come off as a Gore-like grasping, exaggerating, pandering, slashing equivocator would not be Noticed — or at least, not be allowed to define coverage of the Democratic nominee.

So Kerry’s inexplicable attack on the president for staying in the classroom on 9/11? Ignore it. (Ignore what Mrs. Heinz Kerry said earlier in defending the president’s actions.)

And Kerry’s equally inexplicable blurting out to NPR that he would significantly reduce the number of troops in Iraq in his first six months in office? Ignore that too.

Even ignore the wacky explanation given by one of his aides to the Washington Post , courageously on background: Kerry’s “pledge to reduce troops came in response to a question and did not mark a new policy, rather a hope for improved conditions in Iraq.”

On this point, the Division did raise an orange juice toast of agreement with the absent Mr. Mehlman, endorsing his view that, until and unless the press starts holding the non-incumbent accountable for such statements, the president probably can’t win.

Ah, but what the Division members — mostly not regular churchgoers, mostly not gun owners, and mostly unaware of what it is like to get dirty while they work (literally, if not figuratively) — did not focus on was the micro, targeted way that Mehlman and Karl Rove plan to win the election anyway.

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Erick Erickson

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