As November 2 draws ever closer, left-leaning bloggers are bottom-lining election 2004 — pondering what the race boils down to and what still must be done.

According to Josh Marshall, “what this election is about” is “words and excuses meet incompetence, chaos and death.” That is, opines Marshall, “the president is simply in denial. Or he’s willing to keep burning through the US Army and the Marine Corps to avoid admitting the failure of his policies or even the obvious fact that the situation in Iraq is deteriorating terribly.”

To Jesse Taylor’s mind, the presidential race is turning out to be “essentially a debate over who can best turn around the waste that was Bush’s first term” and “it’s just a matter of who’s a better alternative to Bush’s [past] four years — Bush or Kerry?” Taylor’s “not sure why Bush thinks he can win that debate” but welcomes him “to try.”

Now that “an election is nigh,” Mathew Gross grows cynical, imploring Democrats to “start taking some cues from how the Republicans practice their spin. They do it boldy, and unapologetically. They’ve borrowed heavily from the old British Foreign Service motto: Never apologize, never explain” — which, Gross concludes, is “not a bad motto.” (Especially, Campaign Desk would add, when the press is often all too content to unquestioningly reprint spin, “bold,” “unapologetic,” and otherwise).

Looking rightward, Hugh Hewitt also weighs in today with some modest advice for what he too regards as an unquestioning press corps. His suggestion? “Old media reporters who will be covering Kerry’s promised press conference this week … should clip and save” two New York Post columns by fellow right-leaning bloggers “as a guide.” Bottom line: Hewitt hopes not to hear any “How do you plan to save Medicare, Senator”-type questions.

And Scrappleface seems to be offering his own none-too-subtle advice — to CBS, specifically — in the form of “breaking news” about RatherGate. Seems Scrapple has the inside line on what Rather will say on air this evening — including that Rather will “during the broadcast … demand his own resignation, along with that of news producer Mary Mapes.”

That’s one we haven’t run across before — “I demand my own resignation!”

Liz Cox Barrett

Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.