The Note: Math (and) Class

Another day, another Wall Street Journal column taking Obama to task. "What might work on the primary campaign trail doesn't work nearly as well in Tehran," Karl Rove writes. "What, for example, does Mr. Obama think he can offer the Iranians to get them to become a less pernicious and destabilizing force? One of Iran's top foreign policy goals is a precipitous U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. This happens to be Mr. Obama's top foreign policy goal, too. Why should Iran or other rogue states alter their behavior if Mr. Obama gives them what they want, without preconditions?" (That word again!)

And yet: "In the six days since Bush delivered his speech [calling some Democrats would-be appeasers], negotiations with such radicals and terrorists have become the order of the day," Farah Stockman reports in The Boston Globe. "Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced today that he has restarted peace negotiations with Syria -- a key backer of Hamas and Hezbollah, two militant groups that the United States considers terrorist organizations -- for the first time in eight years."

The big(ger) picture: "Barack Obama may be on his way to the Democratic presidential nomination, but if so, he's walking rather than racing across the finish line in a lukewarm close that could signal challenges heading into the general election," McClatchy's Steven Thomma and Margaret Talev report.

Obama gets some communications help: Linda Douglass, formerly of ABC News and most recently of National Journal, will serve as an Obama "senior strategist and as a senior campaign spokesperson on the roadshow," The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder writes. Says Douglass: "I see this as a moment of transformational change in the country and I have spent my lifetime sitting on the sidelines watching people attempt to make change. I just decided that I can't sit on the sidelines anymore."

Among her first tasks: Do something to answer the "unprecedented, subterranean e-mail campaign" that seeks to tar Obama by questioning his patriotism, per Politico's Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin. "What began as a demonstrably false attempt to cast Obama as a Muslim has now metastasized into something far more threatening to the likely Democratic nominee," they write. "The spurious claims about his faith have spiraled into a broader assault that questions his patriotism and citizenship and generally portrays him as a threat to mainstream, white America."

Is affirmative action somehow behind Obama's troubles with white working-class voters? "We shouldn't be surprised at the way they are voting right now," Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., said on MSNBC Wednesday, per ABC's Teddy Davis. "This is the result of how affirmative action, which was basically a justifiable concept when it applied to African-Americans, expanded to every single ethnic group in America that was not white. And these were the people who had not received benefits and were not getting anything out of it."

Democratic consultant Dan Payne sees "this so-called dream ticket [as] a nightmare for both." He's got plenty of reasons listed in his Boston Globe op-ed, but this may be the most salient: "Obama's appeal to independent voters and disgruntled Republicans rests on the promise of a nonpartisan approach. Hillary Clinton is a super-partisan figure. Putting her on the ticket would be like John McCain picking Newt Gingrich as his running mate."

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