MORNING READ

With Congress away, general election chatter dominates the blogs heading into the July 4th weekend. John McCain made the right move in promoting veteran Republican operative Steve Schmidt to the head of his campaign, according to a conservative blogger and former GOP campaign aide. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark is being inconsistent by criticizing McCain, according to the Republican's backers online. And the suggestion that Barack Obama has a problem now that Iraq violence has subsided doesn't hold water, according to liberal bloggers.

Schmidt should give Republicans more confidence in McCain's operation, since Schmidt helped get President Bush and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggar elected, writes The Next Right's Patrick Ruffini, who also worked on Bush's 2004 campaign. Under Schmidt, decisions will be made more quickly and McCain will focus more on the economy, reports Marc Ambinder.

Clark has little standing to criticize McCain's judgment in supporting the Iraq war since Clark once supported Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who also backed the U.S.-led invasion, according to Townhall's Michael Medved. Recent comments by Clark about McCain's military service reminds Ruffini of the time the general pulled rank on his former rival for the presidency in 2004, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), a former Navy lieutenant. But McCain is having trouble answering Clark's question about the relevance of his Vietnam service to this year's presidential campaign, writes kos, who notes that McCain got angry when asked about it.

Contrary to pundits, Obama doesn't have an "Iraq problem" since polls show that more voters are interested in bringing troops home than in winning the war, MyDD's Todd Beeton writes. Obama hasn't shifted his position on withdrawal by reserving the right to pause a troop pull-out, as his critics have suggested, since he put forth a withdrawal plan in January 2007 that allowed for such pauses, notes Josh Marshall through a video of Obama strategist David Axelrod.

FROM THE BLOGS:
Schmidt Takes Over McCain Camp - P. Ruffini, The Next Right
Behind the Scenes of the McCain Campaign, V. 2.5 - M. Ambinder
Weasley's 'Judgment' - Michael Medved, Townhall.com
Clark Denigrated Kerry's Service in 2004 - P. Ruffini, Next Right
Defending McCain's Service Record - P. Yousefzadeh, RedState
Even McCain Can't Answer Clark's Question - kos, Daily Kos
McCain: I'm Not An Expert! - J. Marshall, TalkingPointsMemo
John 'I Didn't Say What I Said' McCain - Todd Beeton, MyDD
Axelrod's Smackdown over Iraq Record - J. Marshall, TPM
Obama Doesn't Have an Iraq Problem - Todd Beeton, MyDD
To Hell w/ The Brand for Obama - Rich Lowry, The Corner
How Obama Can Keep From Blowing It - A. Huffington, HuffPo
Obama and The Hoi Aristoi - Victor Davis Hanson, The Corner
Trade Flip-Flopping Fun Continues - P. Yousefzadeh, RedState
Why Does Limbaugh Support McCain? - Isaac Chotiner, The Plank
The Case Against Mitt Romney - Chris Cillizza, The Fix
A Sign of the Times: LAT & Rush - C. Platt Liebau, Townhall.com

OTHER NEWS SOURCES:
Colombia Rescues Hostages During McCain Trip - USA Today
McCain Orders Shake-Up of His Campaign - New York Times
McCain Allies Find Finance-Law Holes - Wall Street Journal
Bush Officials Backed Oil Deal - Washington Post

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