The Note: March From Madness

You can throw away your brackets -- here's a region's worth of match-ups that matter:

(1) Barack Obama vs. (16) Race

(8) Superdelegates vs. (9) Democracy

(5) Bill Clinton vs. (12) Bill Clinton

(4) Jeremiah Wright vs. (13) Geraldine Ferraro

(6) Clinton library records vs. (11) Tony Rezko trial

(3) Howard Dean vs. (14) Michigan/Florida -- play-in game for the right to face the chairman


(7) Sunni vs. (10) Shiite -- as officiated by John McCain

(2) Hillary Clinton vs. (15) Clinton legacy

All it took was a little big speech and a big little document dump to force a change of possession in the Democratic race.

No, the questions about Rev. Jeremiah Wright aren't going away -- but judge Sen. Barack Obama's speech like this: After hearty rounds of overwhelmingly positive reviews, on Wednesday, it seems, the campaign is ready to move on.

Obama, D-Ill., turns his attention to the Iraq war (that other rationale for his candidacy), and the National Archives is set to release 11,046 pages from the Clinton library Wednesday at 10 am ET -- enough schedules to make a guidance counselor blanch, and enough documents to keep reporters occupied for a while.

Also Wednesday, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., tries to go on offense -- she heads to Michigan to highlight her push to make the Wolverine State count. "Clinton supporters, including Gov. Jennifer Granholm, said the visit to a union hall in Detroit is aimed at whipping up support for the New York senator's push for legislation to allow an early June primary," Dawson Bell writes in the Detroit Free Press.

Key line: "legislative leaders said the proposal . . . won't go anywhere until Obama embraces it," Bell writes.

Obama's speech on race didn't answer all the questions, but he did reset the race, on his own terms (and probably quelled the serious unease in the Democratic ranks). Judging from the reviews, it was a success -- a measured, mature, and nuanced exploration of an issue that rarely gets dealt with directly in public forums.

"The speech was an audacious pivot, an attempt to broaden the focus from Obama's immediate political problem to the collective problem of America's struggle with racial issues," Thomas Fitzgerald writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

He thought and aimed big, in a speech that will be remembered for a while regardless of where his campaign winds up. "He confronted race head-on, then reached beyond it to talk sympathetically about the experiences of the white working class and the plight of workers stripped of jobs and pensions," Janny Scott writes in The New York Times. "Historians and others described the speech's candidness on race as almost without precedent."

His dance around Wright's words was among the more intriguing elements of the speech. ABC's Jake Tapper: "In an attempt to move beyond the controversy -- which has threatened to scuff the postracial unifying sheen of his campaign's promise -- Obama used Wright's anger as a way to explain racial grievances of both white and black Americans to focus on 'problems that confront us all' and move beyond 'a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years.' "

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