GOP, Democrats agree: It's the terrorism, stupid
If you haven't figured it out by now, the past four days here were focused on the "war on terror." In fact it might been called in Broadwayspeak: War on Terror! The Convention. Oh, the nights had individual themes, as is the accepted practice - courage, compassion, opportunity - but this convention was a one-note affair, from site selection to attack lines to praise.
That's not to say that's bad politics or bad policy. It's just a fact - it also has the benefit of being the one issue that unites all these folks in the "big tent." Proposals were floated here and there, but the Bush campaign has made clear it wants to fight this campaign on what it feels to be the firmest ground - with the image of the war president willing to do whatever it takes to win.
The president is resolute, which is important in the war. John Kerry flip flops, which is dangerous in the war. The invasion of Iraq was part of the larger war and was, therefore, a necessity. Same with the Patriot Act.
What's more, judging by the Democrats' convention (remember the Boston Strength-fest), it appears they believe the same topic rules the campaign. Of course, they're more interested in broadening their topic list. They'll still have John Edwards out there doing his "Two Americas" speech talking about jobs and the economy, which - "girlie men" aside - could prove to be a crucial wild card in this race, particularly if the next few economic numbers sink again. But in the end it seems everyone agrees that in 2004: It's the terrorism, stupid.
Bearing that in mind, what does our race look like as we leave this town of enchanted odors and surly protesters? Still blurry, but coming into focus.
In the next few days the president will probably get his bump from this affair, which Republicans predict will barely exist and Democrats predict should be somewhere in the range of 15 to 16 points. Each will claim victory when it comes in at about 3 to 5 points. And in a few weeks, we'll probably be - surprise - deadlocked again.