There's that sinking, queasy feeling lodged somewhere deep in the collective gut of Obama supporters that the Comeback Clintons just might pull this race off, with the Keystone State's primary in several weeks as the potential key to her triumph.
Has our Prince of Hope lost his edge to the Carpetbaggers from Hope, Arkansas? (C'mon folks, this will be a two-headed monster if HRC returns to the White House.)
Has Barack lost his mojo? While the discordant and shrill Hillary pounded away at him with a spate of negative attacks, fear-mongering, and below-the-belt innuendos, Barack has valiantly lived above the fray with steely dignity, composure and self-confident brio.
But not all voters are cut from his Superman cloak. If as the exit polls suggest that many voters in Ohio only made up their minds mere days before the election, it illustrates several things:
First, words do matter-- at least the poisonous kind that seem to emerge from the Clinton camp on an almost daily basis. Dick Morris warned that this would happen if matters became desperate, and he was right.
Obama doesn't quite have Reagan's teflon shield to deflect all the attacks; he's too exotic of a candidate. There's an orchid-like hothouse quality to him that's both endearing to his supporters and confusing to his detractors. We unconditionally embrace Obama with our hearts, but some of our brains might beg to differ.
What HRC did with her infamous early-morning commercial was plunge a dagger into our noble knight; it played on raw emotion and fear to make its spurious case, not unlike the LBJ picking daisy/mushroom cloud ad which ran only once against Goldwater in 64, but was replayed by all three major networks.
Is it time for Obama to go on the offense without sounding offensive? While listening to Hillary crow about her victories in Ohio and Texas and Rhode Island, one would think that she has already begun measuring drapes for the Oval Office despite still lagging behind in total delegates.
When Obama was on his multi-state primary winning streak, you never heard him boast about his remarkable accomplishment. He always talked about the journey ahead. With Hillary, from Day One of her campaign, it's always been "When I am President of the United States..." She feels it's her due, and it might not require due process to get there.
There's plenty of reasons why Obama has steered clear of the mud-slinging that has recently characterized the modus operandi of the Clintonites. He promised to embody a new kind of politics, one that transcends race, class differences, and rabid partisanship.
He's been playing fair all along, while HRC seems to have lifted a page right out of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichek's playbook. (So far, we have yet to see any reports of Hillary supporters secretly videotaping Obama staff meetings.)
Can the Democratic presidential nominee win with grace and style and class? Or is the only path to the White House the one that travels through the ruinous Rovian landscape? Battered and attacked for so many years by the right, Hillary has adopted many of their same tactics. And yet, she has used this experience as evidence that she is ready to withstand anything the right will throw at her in the general election. Her camp believes that Democrats want this kind of toughness in their president.
Yet, Obama is no shrinking violet. He is Gandhi to her Nixon. He extends the olive branch to potential enemies. She whips out a chain saw. He looks for the good in all. She looks for those who might wrong her. It comes as little surprise that her campaign command structure is fractured and dysfunctional. Why would her presidency be any different?
It is said that the Democratic contest is ultimately about gender and race. I'd like to add another element. It's also about class, and not the economic kind. In this regard, Obama is in a class of his own. But will this be enough to pull off a victory?