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Clinton and Obama

More Near-Fatal Cases of Flyaway Hair .

Oh, and Carrie Underwood torturing "Desperado" on the Grammys is what I was talking about in Sunday's column.

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I'm really liking "The Audacity of Hope." Barack Obama is a terrific writer, clear thinker. One is tempted to describe him as a uniter, not a divider. But is America ready for a uniter? Not to be cynical or anything, but doesn't it seem likely that the rancor of our times, the incivility, the chronic obstreperousness, the brass knuckles approach to even the smallest political dispute, is not a transient phenomenon? I'm not picking up the "kinder, gentler politics" vibe out there.

Here's Sen. Obama, announcing for the president:

"In the face of a politics that shut you out, that's told you to settle, that's divided us for too long, you believe that we can be one people, reaching out for what's possible, building that more perfect union."

The profiles of Obama indicate that he has a gift for listening to opponents and fashioning compromises when necessary. Michael Tomasky, in The New York Review of Books, writes:

"Alone among contemporary politicians, Obama has shown a great potential to break the current red-blue stalemate and construct a new politics that is progressive but grounded in civic traditions that speak to a wider range of Americans than the existing amalgam of Democratic constituencies...."

"He really is not a political warrior by temperament. He is not even, as the word is commonly understood, a liberal. He is in many respects a civic republican--a believer in civic virtue, and in the possibility of good outcomes negotiated in good faith."

Which is essentially what Obama said in Springfield:

"It was here where we learned to disagree without being disagreeable, that it's possible to compromise, so long as you know those principals that can never be compromised, and so long as we're willing to listen to each other, we can assume the best in people instead of the worst."

He went on to talk about the failure of leadership and "the smallness of our politics, the ease with which we're distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our preference for scoring cheap political points instead of rolling up our sleeves and building a working consensus to tackle the big problems of America."

For some folks, consensus and compromise are code words for selling out. Never mind the problems Obama will have with the Right, he's already got problems with the Left.

Here's David Sirota blogging on Obama:

"...there is no 'third way' or 'consensus' way out of many of our most pressing problems, as Obama seems to believe. Why? Because many of our most pressing problems are zero-sum: someone is benefiting from the status quo, and to change the status quo means someone may lose something."

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Robert Novak's column on Sen. Clinton misses the real story. He points out that some Dreamworks moguls seem to have signed up for the Don't Tell Mama, I'm For Obama program. He entertains, then dismisses, some very weak explanations for why Hollywood may be down on Sen. Clinton. Finally he says it's because she's cautious and dull, while someone like Edwards is exciting and courageous. It's certainly true that Edwards gave a rousing speech at the DNC winter meeting, one that Sen. Clinton didn't come close to matching.

But here's the real story on Hillary Clinton, seems to me: She's been pretty darn solid. She hasn't made a mistake in her campaign so far. She's cautious, yeah, but she's also a pro, and looks more experienced than many of her leading rivals. You don't hear "former First Lady" very much; she's a powerful senator with six-plus years in office. Someone please remind me why she's not electable.

Look at Biden and see how easily someone can implode in this day and age. Look at Obama, forced to retract something he said in his stump speech.

When Clinton says, as she did in NH about health care reform, "I am looking for answers that will not have us spend more money," she's not simply playing it safe, she's playing it smart -- for someone who wants to win a general election in November 2008.

[But what do I know. Here's Andrea Mitchell on the Imus show this morning, saying there's a gender factor in Hillary refusing to apologize for her vote on the war:

"...she is not yet able to explain her vote on the Iraq war to the satisfaction of a lot of the anti-war Democrats, and she has to appeal, in the primary, obviously, to Democrats up there in New Hampshire. They want her to say, I made a mistake when I voted. John Edwards has said that. He said, That was wrong, I was wrong when I voted. Obama was against it from the beginning. And she won't go there, because she is still clearly thinking about, as a woman, not saying I was the stereotypical deal, weak...not strong on national security. She just doesn't want to say that. But it's not clear that that's going to satisfy the anti-war left. "]

[But wait, here's an assessment from Mike Huckabee, Republican presidential candidate, on the Stephanopoulos show yesterday: "I will tell you that Hillary Clinton will be a very strong candidate across America because she knows how to win. She's been through struggles. She has overcome many things. And she is absolutely a brilliant human being. Again, I think people underestimate her. And I think, when they do, they're going to be sorry."]

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It's not easy being green, scientists discover.

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More Beatles, showing how to ski and play music at the same time.

By Joel Achenbach  |  February 12, 2007; 7:56 AM ET
 
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