THE NOTE: New Realities

Politico's pooh-bahs have counted up the votes, and it's 0-for-40 for the Democrats in their attempts to force an end to the Iraq war. "Indeed, the only war legislation passed during this Congress has been to give the president exactly what he wants, and exactly what he has had for the past five years: more money, with no limitations," Jim VandeHei and John F. Harris write.

Any wonder this is going on? "Democrats now worry that their inability to make good on campaign promises to end or slow the war in Iraq will have consequences," Bloomberg's Nicholas Johnston reports. "The disaffection has already fueled at least four anti-war primary challenges to party incumbents, raising fears among some lawmakers of an intra-party fight that could drain momentum before next year's elections."

Sensing opportunity, Freedom's Watch is back with a new print ad on Tuesday, capitalizing on encouraging news out of Iraq. The ad urges members of Congress -- and seven potentially vulnerable Democrats in particular -- to "stop playing politics" and "fund the troops."

The New Republic's Noam Scheiber sorts out the new John Edwards (the one who may or may not support the Democratic nominee), and finds him more like the real John Edwards than last cycle's John Edwards. "In many respects, the conflict-averse moderate of 2003 is more at odds with Edwards's biography than the conflict-seeking populist of late 2007," Schieber writes. "If the candidate's tone these days is heavily inflected with moral outrage, it's a tone he spent 20 years refining as a trial lawyer."

At the very least, Edwards is in a rush, The New York Times' Christine Hauser reports. "Lagging in national polls less than two months before the Iowa caucus, Mr. Edwards is a man racing against the clock, hammering out miles over long stretches of countryside," Hauser writes. "The campaign is banking on Mr. Edwards to win over voters and caucusgoers in person, giving the campaign a focus that has sharpened in recent weeks as he tries to convince them he is the best choice for the Democratic presidential nomination."

Edwards is launching a new ad on Tuesday in Iowa, where he promises to submit a bill that would end healthcare for members of Congress and top executive branch officials if universal health coverage isn't passed within six months of his taking office. (We look forward to that subcommittee mark-up).

The Washington Post's Peter Slevin writes up Obama's early political career -- and finds little that would prepare him for the fight against the Clinton machine. "One of the singular aspects of Obama's rapid political rise is that he accomplished it without becoming controversial, without being bloodied -- indeed, with hardly a scratch, even in rough-and-tumble Chicago," Slevin writes. "He cut a path largely independent of the Democratic machine, its ward bosses and its Byzantine rules of succession."

The Boston Globe's Peter Canellos wonders if Democrats are wondering if Obama is up to the task ahead of him. "No candidate in recent memory has embodied the deepest hopes of so many Democrats. Yet it's hard for some to watch the Illinois senator without also thinking of their fears -- the fear, frankly, that Obama is too vulnerable to Republican attacks to be a safe choice for his party's nomination."

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