The bloggers are about to storm Manhattan.

Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration by the troglodyte mainstream media. There are only 15 bloggers heading to Madison Square Garden, less than half the number that descended on the FleetCenter.

But I thought you'd like to meet some of them anyway. The Boston bloggers were almost all Kerry boosters, so it comes as no surprise that the New York contingent is all Bush fans of the conservative variety.

The Big Apple crew hasn't gotten as much press as their liberal counterparts, perhaps because they're less noisy and because we all wrote that "bloggers-are-the-future story" in July. But the Wall Street Journal offers a nice curtain-raiser:

"In the accreditation process, Republican convention organizers invited particular bloggers, while the Democrats used applications. But the result is the same: a lot of home-team support. . . .

"Some Republican convention bloggers also took shots at the Boston bloggers. Asked what they learned from Boston, some of the New York bloggers characterized the Boston coverage as self-absorbed and overly preoccupied with celebrity sightings."

Imagine!

Here are some recent excerpts, starting with Real Clear Politics | http://www.realclearpolitics.com/commentary.html:

"THE MEDIA & THE SWIFTEES: A question: imagine, just for one minute, what would happen if a few dozen of George W. Bush's former colleagues -- from Harvard Business school, Harken Energy, the Texas Rangers, or from the statehouse in Austin -- came together as a group to denounce his leadership skills and say he was unfit to be President.

"Would big media ignore the group's story? Would The New York Times print a front page defense of Bush and try to cast doubt on the group's credibility by showing a 'web of connections' to his opponent? If you answered yes to either of those questions you are, with all due respect, either hopelessly naive or living on Mars. But that's exactly what we've seen with the Swift Boat Veterans."

Wizbang | http://www.wizbangblog.com/: "Having no real challenge in the primary, Kerry's lack of self-control did not stop his quest for the nomination as it would have in a normal year. Now, with the Swift Boat Vets giving Kerry his first real test on the national stage, Kerry's response has been both undisciplined and frankly, bizarre. After watching his behavior for the last few days, he appears to be losing control of his campaign and perhaps even his own behavior. Lacking a clear and concise strategy for dealing with the issue and perhaps lacking a clear and concise story, Kerry has left his campaign message and resorted to rather erratic tactics."

RedState | http://www.redstate.org jumps on a poll showing Bush edging ahead of Kerry:

"Now, if the LA Times poll, a poll that seems to heavily favor the Democrats is saying this, what could the real electoral situation look like. While most polls show this a tight race, the RNC convention is next week and Bush has a chance to appeal directly to the American people. Kerry's worst nightmare would be another Bush speech of the caliber of his September 20, 2001 speech. If Bush can set the agenda in this election (something Kerry failed to do by making his convention biographical rather than substantive), the chances of a Bush lead widening in the next few weeks seems strong.

"It is less the Swift Boat Vets controversy that is hurting Kerry and more his own petulant reaction to it. The stunt of sending Max Cleland to Crawford, Texas as a surrogate for Kerry is an example of the kind of political theater of the absurd that almost always backfires on the candidate. If Kerry can't deflect the Swift Boat Vet attacks, something he's been unable to do for three weeks now, his numbers will continue to decline just as Bush's numbers expand."

BlogsforBush | http://www.blogsforbush.com: "The mainstream media is doing its damnedest to defend John Kerry and discredit the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth by killing the messenger -- attacking the SBVT and digging for any suggestion that the Bush campaign illegally coordinated activities with the Swifties.

"Of course, they are largely ignoring the mountain of provable and illegal connections between the Kerry campaign, the Democratic National Committee and so-called "527s" such as MoveOn.org and America Coming Together. . . .

"So far, Big Journalism seems disinterested, while the blogosphere does the real work of exposing the real connections between Kerry, the DNC and the left-wing 527s. This is how things work in the media today."

As long as we know which side they're on.

Bush is starting his preconvention interviews with a USA Today | http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/nation/president/2004-08-26-bush-interview_x.htm chat:

"As President Bush prepares for the Republican convention in New York next week, he says losing the election has never crossed his mind and the war with Iraq was worth putting his political future at risk.

"In a 30-minute interview Thursday as he flew from his Texas ranch to a campaign rally in Las Cruces, N.M., Bush was expansive and upbeat. He said he will describe his vision for a second term in his convention speech Thursday. The convention will contrast his record and agenda with Sen. John Kerry's without trying to 'bludgeon' his Democratic opponent, he said."

Best tidbit: Bush "said he is reviewing tapes of Kerry's past debate performances to prepare for debates this fall."

USA Today also has some decent polling news for the prez:

"President Bush enters his convention week holding a slight lead over Democrat John Kerry and regaining ground he lost after the Democratic convention on the key issues of handling terrorism and Iraq, a new USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll | http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/nation/polls/2004-08-26-usat-poll_x.htm shows.

"In a head-to-head matchup, Bush led Kerry 50%-47% among likely voters, while Kerry led Bush 48%-47% among registered voters. When independent Ralph Nader is included, Bush leads Kerry, 48%-46%, among likely voters. Nader gets 4%."

Oh, and here's another poll, from the Wall Street Journal:

"As President Bush heads toward next week's Republican convention in New York, he faces a conundrum: The same policies that have secured his conservative base and given him a slight lead in the presidential race are now complicating his bid to win over crucial undecided voters.

"A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows that he approaches the 2004 homestretch with majorities disapproving of his approach to critical foreign and domestic issues alike and saying his policies on Iraq, health care and jobs and the economy need 'major adjustments' or outright reversal. Among the one in five voters who say they are undecided or leaning one way but open to persuasion, those majorities are overwhelming.

"The good news for Mr. Bush is that he continues to hold a slim 47%-to-45% national lead over Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry -- though the poll has a margin of 3.5 percentage points, so that amounts to a statistical dead heat."

Bush takes the high road in his New York Times | http://nytimes.com/2004/08/27/politics/campaign/27bush.html?hp interview:

"President Bush said on Thursday that he did not believe Senator John Kerry lied about his war record, but he declined to condemn the television commercial paid for by a veterans group alleging that Mr. Kerry came by his war medals dishonestly.

"Mr. Bush's comments, in a half-hour interview with The New York Times, undercut a central accusation leveled by the veterans group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, whose unproven attacks on Mr. Kerry have dominated the political debate for more than two weeks.

"In the interview, which included topics like preparations for the Republican National Convention, the reconstruction of Iraq and the twin nuclear threats of North Korea and Iran, Mr. Bush portrayed himself as a victim of the same type of political interest groups -- called 527 committees for the section of the tax code that created them -- that are attacking Mr. Kerry. 'I understand how Senator Kerry feels -- I've been attacked by 527's too,' he said, adding that he had spoken earlier in the day to Senator John McCain and had agreed to join him in a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission to bar the groups."

Kerry stays on the offensive over Vietnam but gives a bit of ground, the Los Angeles Times | http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-082604kerry_lat,1,6124848.story?coll=la-home-headlines reports:

"Sen. John F. Kerry said today he was 'telling the God's honest truth' about his Vietnam combat record, as his presidential campaign agreed to stop showing a television ad featuring Republican Sen. John McCain attacking President Bush.

"Kerry's ad, which called on Bush to denounce a veterans group's 'smear' of the Democrat's military record, showed McCain telling Bush during the 2000 presidential race that he should be 'ashamed' of questioning McCain's record on veterans issues."

The Alleged Flip-Flopper has a new response to that charge, the Boston Globe | http://www.boston.com/news/politics/president/articles/2004/08/27/kerry_uses_new_census_data_to_attack_bush/ observes:

"The Massachusetts senator also delivered his most pointed rebuttal to date against Republican accusations that he is a 'flip-flopper' or 'waffler.' . . .

"When a man in the audience asked him about the labels, Kerry said: 'It's the same thing they said about Bill Clinton; it's standard Republican playbook. It's the same thing they said about Al Gore. It's the same thing they said about John McCain down in South Carolina. They just say it, and if you spend enough money and say it, people like you are going to ask the question.'

"He then added: 'Let me ask you something: Is opposing the Homeland Security Department and then suddenly embracing it when the newspapers write something, is that "flip-flopping" or doing something? Is opposing [the] 9/11 [Commission] and then suddenly turning around and supporting it? Is telling us [national security adviser] Condoleezza Rice is not going to testify, then she does testify, is that a "flip-flop?" Is telling you you're going to fund No Child Left Behind and then stripping it of $27 billion, is that a "flip-flop?" I mean, you tell me, ladies and gentlemen. Let's get real here.'"

Think his campaign has been doing any research on this?

Salon's Arianna Huffington | http://www.salon.com/opinion/huffington/2004/08/26/Kerry_strategy/index.html tries to torpedo the swifties:

"The repugnant nonstory of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is an irony-drenched Exhibit A in the case against focusing on undecided voters. Consider: After being ardently wooed, courted, pursued and catered to by Team Kerry, a sizeable chunk of this capricious lot has taken the noxious bait being dangled by the anti-Kerry slime machine and swallowed it hook, line and stinker.

"According to a new poll by the National Annenberg Election Survey, 46 percent of undecided and persuadable voters say they find the group's vile ads 'very or somewhat believable.'

"Believable? But then why are we surprised that the folks who are still on the fence nearly four years into one of the most disastrous and polarizing presidencies in American history find foaming-at-the-mouth accusations that John Kerry might have shot himself because it would look good on his resume 'believable'?

"The 2004 election is nothing less than a referendum on the soul of our country -- a political event with unprecedented significance for our lives and the lives of our children. The Kerry campaign cannot allow it to devolve into a debate over whether John Kerry bled enough to warrant a Purple Heart."

Time to resume the Bounce Watch! Amy Sullivan follows the ball for Washington Monthly | http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/:

"Before the Democratic Convention, you may recall, Republicans played a little game they like to call 'Inflating Expectations for Other People,' telling any reporter who would listen that they fully expected John Kerry to come out of Boston with a 15-point poll bounce. What's been clear over the past six months to anyone who reads polls is that the country is not only firmly divided, but a good 90 percent or more of voters seem to have already made up their minds.

"So the whole idea of a phantom 15-point increase in Kerry's favor was ridiculous from the start. . . .

"The Kerry campaign has now decided to join the same game, sending out a mass email from pollster Mark Mellman, who notes that, 'Following their conventions, the average elected incumbent has held a 16-point lead, while winning incumbents have led by an average of 27 points.' Ooof.

"Experience tells us that Republicans will prepare for the Convention (not to mention the debates) by implying that their guy will be lucky if he can walk to the podium without tripping over his untied shoelaces. It worked in 2000. But, to point out the obvious, Bush wasn't president then. He now has to simultaneously project command of the office and a lack of confidence in his ability to match up against this John Kerry fella."

National Review's Rich Lowry | http://nationalreview.com/lowry/lowry200408251621.asp follows the money:

"Max Cleland, who made a staged appearance at the Bush ranch Wednesday, was appointed by President George W. Bush to the board of directors of the Export-Import Bank in 2003. The same Max Cleland who is spending nearly all of his time attacking President Bush is, amazingly enough, a Bush political appointee.

"According to a bank spokesman, Cleland makes $136,000 a year off this very cushy job. A couple of questions come to mind here: If Cleland had any decency, wouldn't he resign? Why would he accept a political appointment from a man he so loathes and thinks represents the very worst in American politics? Max Cleland's extremely partisan activities are being subsidized by the American taxpayer.

"But, wait, it gets more sinister. There is now a definitive link between President Bush and the attacks against him. This link is as direct as most of the links that have been highlighted between Bush and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth: Bush gave a $136,000 job to one of his attackers and a key member of Kerry's 'band of brothers.' By the logic of most of the press corps, this means George W. Bush must be responsible for the activities of Kerry campaign's band of brothers. Who knows what deep game is being played here, but somebody should call the New York Times."

Washington Monthly Editor Paul Glastris | http://www.washingtonmonthly.com has a different problem with Kerry:

"What was the biggest screw-up? Personally, I don't think it was their decision not to fight back harder and earlier on the swift boat attacks. Yes, the campaign seems to have been foolishly unprepared. But waiting for the mainstream press to acknowledge the story and begin shooting it down was not necessarily a bad strategy, given the circumstances. . . .

"Instead, I think the biggest mistake so far has been that Kerry gave a convention speech with virtually no policy specifics. I know, I know, people say that's boring; you don't want a speech to go on and on, laundry-list-like; the most important thing was to introduce himself and his larger themes, etc. But the fact is that you came away from that speech with little concrete idea of what Kerry will do if he is elected president. The policies are there, and a number of them -- in healthcare and education, for instance -- are quite bold and promising. And Kerry does talk about them on the stump. But in the one moment this entire summer when he had the American public's attention, he and his staff chose not to give over even five minutes to a discussion of his specific agenda.

"The consequence of that decision can be seen in LA Times poll: The poll spotlighted another challenge for Kerry. After a Democratic convention that focused much more on Kerry's biography than his agenda, 58% said they knew even a fair amount about the policies he would pursue as president; nearly 4 in 10 said they knew not much or nothing at all."

Is there a kinder, gentler Cheney? The New Republic's Michelle Cottle | http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=express&s=cottle082604 ponders the question:

"I must admit that, for a split second, Dick Cheney had me. Reading his recent campaign remarks about gay marriage -- that couples should be allowed to enter into 'any kind of relationship they want to,' that the legal issues should be left up to the states, and that, basically, he stands on the side of 'freedom for everyone' -- I actually began to wonder if maybe the Vice President wasn't such a dark-hearted, autocratic jerk after all.

"Certainly Cheney had to realize that his comments would cause a rumpus, since they directly contradict Bush's position that gay marriage is such a menace to the nation that nothing short of a constitutional ban is called for. . . .

"Say what you will about Dick's paternal urges; this rare deviation from the conservative straight and narrow simply highlights how, in Cheney's view, politics and policy exist largely to serve him and those close to him.

"No one doubts that the Vice President's apostasy on this issue is entirely personal. If Mary weren't a lesbian, Cheney would at this very minute be somewhere deep in the red states, warning voters in that scowling, brook-no-arguments way of his that gay marriage is exactly the sort of fuzzy-headed liberal nonsense that gives aid and comfort to Al Qaeda. (Lynne would be right there beside him, blaming the whole mess on those perverted, Mapplethorpe-loving bastards over at the National Endowment for the Arts.) But because one of his kids happens to bat for the other team, suddenly Dick's a free-to-be-you-and-me, 'freedom for everyone' kind of guy.

"Now, I'm sure we are all very happy for Mary Cheney. But what about the members of all those other groups that Republicans so often dump on -- like poor folks, or black folks, or single moms, or union members -- who don't happen to have a representative in the Vice President's nuclear family? Where was Cheney's keep-government-out-of-our-personal-lives attitude when he was casting all those votes against abortion rights in Congress?"

Over to you, Mr. Vice President.