MORNING READ

With Robert Novak reporting that John McCain is on the verge of picking his running mate, conservative bloggers try to give the Republican some last-minute advice. Barack Obama's trip abroad is going swimmingly well, according to his blogging backers, but his critics are pouncing on his refusal to back the U.S. military surge in Iraq. And while Democrats in Congress take heat from the online right for a recent Medicare vote, McCain hears it from the left for a remark about Social Security.

When McCain announces his pick, he should stress the running mate's experience and how the Republican ticket will be better prepared than the Obama ticket for today's dangers, writes Townhall's Hugh Hewitt. If McCain wants to generate excitement and upstage Obama, he could pick an independent, a minority or former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), suggests Mark Klimer at RedState. But McCain should wait until the convention to make his pick known, since any bounce he would receive in July would dissipate quickly, writes Patrick Ruffini at The Next Right.

Following Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki statement of support for Obama's U.S. troop withdrawal plan, an Iraqi government spokesman is now proposing a timeline that neatly meshes with Obama's, notes Josh Marshall at TalkingPointsMemo. The traditional media is finally calling it like it is by noting how smooth Obama's trip has gone and how much of a long shot McCain is, writes Daily Kos's DemFromCT. But Obama sounded like he would rather lose the war and win an election when he said in a television interview that he wouldn't back the U.S. military surge even if he knew about its effectiveness, writes Power Line's John Hinderaker.

This election year, Congressional Republicans could win points with ads highlighting Democrats' support for a bill that cut seniors' Medicare benefits, writes Pejman Yousefzadeh. But a group critical of McCain, the Alliance for Retired Americans, is running effective ads in swing districts that feature local seniors appalled by McCain's remark that Social Security is a "disgrace," according to MyDD's Jonathan Singer.

FROM THE BLOGS:
When McCain Announces Veep - Hugh Hewitt, Townhall.com
Novak Reports McCain Will Tab Veep Soon - M. Klimer, RedState
McCain to Announce Pick This Week? - P. Ruffini, The Next Right
The Veep-Now Speculation - Kathryn Jean Lopez, The Corner
Iraqi Spokesman on Timetable - Josh Marshall, TPM
Why Is Obama's Popularity w/ Allies Bad? - A. Huffington, HuffPo
Cracks in The Media Narrative - DemFromCT, Daily Kos
Obama Concedes Surge Didn't Go as Expected - Marc Ambinder
Obama Would Rather Lose a War - John Hinderaker, Power Line
Dem Congress Cut Medicare Benefits - P. Yousefzadeh, RedState
ARA Hits McCain on Soc. Sec. - Jonathan Singer, MyDD
Blackwater Getting Out of Security - Josh Marshall, TPM
McCain Straight Talk at a Town Hall - BarbinMD, Daily Kos
The MSM? It's Now 'Traditional' - Kit Seelye, The Caucus

OTHER NEWS SOURCES:
McCain Veep Pick to Come This Week - Robert Novak
Obama Makes War Gains - Washington Post
For Obama, First Step is Not a Misstep - New York Times
Bumps Up and Down K Street - The Hill