But Kennedy is looking forward as he heads west on Obama's behalf: "Though Kennedy's rhetoric on stage seemed at times targeted at the Clintons and, specifically, toward former President Bill Clinton, Kennedy insisted that the timing of his endorsement was 'really to the future,' " report ABC's Nitya Venkataraman, David Wright, and Audrey Taylor.
"Barack Obama has a very special and unique quality of inspiring. And I think that is what's important," Kennedy told ABC's Charlie Gibson. "My endorsement is about the future. And it's Barack Obama. And it's about whether he is going to be able to win the nomination and get about the business of bringing both the party and the country together. And I believe he has."
The timing couldn't have been better -- and not just because Super Tuesday draws near.
Here's the story that most any other day would put the Obama war room into lockdown mode: "Antoin 'Tony' Rezko was roused at daybreak Monday from his Wilmette mansion by federal agents and ordered jailed by a judge who was disturbed that the politically connected businessman concealed a $3.5 million payment from overseas," Jeff Coen and John Chase write in the Chicago Tribune. "Rezko's sudden arrest came days after his name became a point of controversy in the presidential campaign because of his past ties to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)."
"The Kennedy endorsement gave a fresh boost to Obama as the campaign entered its most competitive phase, with primaries in 22 states up for grabs on Super Tuesday next week," Anne Kornblut and Shailagh Murray write in The Washington Post. "It also overshadowed the arrest in Chicago of Tony Rezko, a major contributor to Obama over the years, on charges that he ran a major kickback scheme."
With the eyes of the nation on the House chamber last night, surely the buzz was about the president's recommitment to fiscal discipl . . . wait, did someone spy a snub?
"Obama refused to make himself available to greet Sen. Hillary Clinton before the speech," Frank James writes in the Chicago Tribune blog.
"He went out of his way to greet as many House members as possible and walked halfway across the chamber to greet members of the Supreme Court, the president's cabinet, the military joint chiefs. That made what happened next even more striking. Obama returned to stand by his seat next to Sen. Edward Kennedy."
"As Clinton approached, Kennedy made sure to make eye contact and indicated he wanted to shake her hand. Clinton leaned towards Kennedy over a row of seats and Kennedy leaned in towards her. They shook hands," James continued. "Obama stood icily staring at Clinton during this, then turned his back and stepped a few feet away. Kennedy may've wanted to make peace with Clinton but Obama clearly wanted no part of that."
(And the momentous exchange between 43 and a possible 44: "Hey buddy, how's it going?" Bush said to Obama, The Hill's Alexander Bolton reports.)
As for the State of the Union speech itself -- this was a hard one to get excited about. "President Bush proposed a short list of initiatives Monday that more than anything else underscored the White House's growing realization that his biggest political opponents now are time and an electorate already looking beyond him," Steven Lee Myers writes in The New York Times.