The Note: Inside David Axelrod's Steel Cage


Bending to reality, The Note will suspend regular coverage of politics until further Notice.

For the foreseeable future, we will simply chronicle the politics and coverage of Barack Obama's quest to become America's 44th president with daily awards in all categories.

As Robert Gibbs (likely) said to Senator Obama as they reviewed the events of the last 24 hours: "Welcome to the Freak Show, boss."

Best analysis of the meaning of Clinton versus Obama: Dan Balz's must-read opus in the Washington Post. LINK

Best explanation of the planned February 10 Springfield/Lincoln symbolism: the Chicago Sun-Times. LINK

Best Clinton versus Obama fundraising reporting: the Los Angeles Times. LINK

Best David Axelrod quote (of the news cycle): "There is such a compulsion on the part of the political community and political media community to create a steel cage match between Clinton and Obama you can almost see the fight posters."

Most absurd over-the-top analysis of Clinton versus Obama: Dana Milbank's childish Washington Sketch in the Washington Post. LINK

Most perfunctory Howard Wolfson quote: ""The field is shaping up as a strong field. It's an exciting time to be a Democrat. We obviously wish Sen. Obama well."

Best sign for John Edwards: Polling partners ABC News LINK and the Washington Post LINK, and the New York Observer LINK, cast Edwards high, below the frontrunners but above the pack, and he made the Today show as a soundbite.

Best/latest indication of how well-wired Lynn Sweet of the Sun-Times is: "In a conference call with some of his best fund-raisers Tuesday, Obama said he could need to raise between $65 million and $70 million for the primary season -- a year away -- and set a goal of raising $500,000 on his first day in the race." LINK

Biggest show of Clinton weakness (from the Los Angeles Times): "He's going to have an effect on our fundraising — no question about it," said Sim Farar, a major Clinton fundraiser in Los Angeles." LINK

Silliest headline: New York Daily News' "Up Hill Battle: Obama's Early White House Bid Rattles Clinton Camp," which suggests via blind quotes that Clinton might announce next week in reaction to Obama.

Best low-ball expectations setting by an anonymous Obama adviser (in the Chicago Tribune): "An Obama adviser said the exploratory committee hopes to raise $7 million by the end of March." LINK

Best evidence that the Chicago Tribune treats its hometown candidates differently than the Boston Globe does: this slobbering editorial. LINK

Best color: Jeff Zeleny (who is going to co-own this story), in the New York Times, "In Washington, Mr. Obama's announcement caused a stir among Democratic political operatives, who rushed to make inquiries about joining his campaign. A list of telephone numbers for local offices in Iowa, New Hampshire and Chicago -- none of which have even opened yet -- were being circulated via e-mail." LINK

Biggest names for Clinton to worry about (for now): David Geffen (per the Los Angeles Times) and Tom Daschle (per the New York Sun's Gerstein LINK

. Best line of tab analysis: "Obama's biggest problem may not be that he's black but that he's green." (New York Daily News)

Most banal Jennifer Palmieri quote: "The country's going to face some tremendous challenges in 2009 and we need the very best candidates to run. . . . [A]nyone who has good ideas on how we tackle these problems should get into the race."

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