Five questions that could determine everything or nothing:
1. If a Bushie falls in this forest, who cares to hear him?
2. Do Democrats want to see Obama's stretched map, or listen to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (stretched) arguments on electability? (And does Clinton need to run the table in the last three contests to keep her in the game?)
3. Can the general election just start, or does white smoke have to emanate from a Washington, D.C., hotel room this weekend?
4. If Sen. Barack Obama seeks to morph Sen. John McCain into President Bush's mini-me, how long before history crashes in? (And does it matter that Obama flubbed some history of his own?)
5. Why on earth would the Clinton campaign be running a new slogan contest NOW? (Thank you for the e-mail, Chelsea, and here's a write-in suggestion: "My mom ran for president, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.")
This is how it looks this Wednesday: Obama has basically stopped running against Clinton, and has starting running against McCain (via President Bush.)
McCain, to varying degrees, is running against both Obama and the president -- but shares just enough with both of them to make things interesting.
Clinton has (mostly) stopped running against Obama -- and now she's running against The Establishment (its media, its math, and its method of viewing the political world).
But the point is: She's still running. It comes to this for the once-inevitable, always-inimitable candidate: Three final rounds primaries and one final meeting in a Washington hotel room should be all that stand between her and the end.
Yet while everyone looks for her to grope her way to the exit, she's finding reasons to stick around. James Carville, on ABC's "Good Morning America" Wednesday, said the end of voting June 3 could bring a "split decision," with Obama up in the delegate count and Clinton having received more votes.
"I think a lot of superdelegates are going to say, wait a minute, you got more votes than he did? . . . And look at those polls," Carville said.
And he blasted the Obama campaign for trying to score political points out of Clinton's comments Friday regarding the RFK assassination. "The way that they handled this South Dakota thing was not helpful at all. . . . This was not a good thing," Carville said. "Obama tried to pull a clever political trick, and it backfired on him."
Clinton herself got maybe a little carried away here, speaking in Billings, Mon., Tuesday night: "Based on every analysis of every bit of research, and every poll that's been taken and every state that a Democrat has to win -- I am the stronger candidate against John McCain in the fall," she said, ABC's Eloise Harper reports.
Still, the road to 2008 has already split -- and Clinton's not following the route she planned out. "The differing paths the two Democratic candidates took Tuesday signaled the looming end of their contest, with Obama campaigning as though he already is his party's standard-bearer and Clinton still contesting the nomination," Scott Martelle writes in The Los Angeles Times.
In that general election that's starting without Clinton, Obama wants McCain and Bush to be running together. Obama is "trying to make Bush McCain's running mate," ABC's Jake Tapper reported Wednesday on "GMA." "Hillary? Hillary who?"
McCain's fund-raiser with President Bush Tuesday defines the terms of their new relationship -- and lets Obama hone his argument on that very subject.