The Note: Last Dance

Since she asked herself the question and everything -- what does Hillary want, after all? (And, more importantly for a Democratic Party that's in desperate need of some healing time, how badly does she want it?)

Sen. Barack Obama made history Tuesday -- a first term senator defying all of the odds in becoming the first black candidate to become a party standard-bearer. Yet even before he could claim the nomination in St. Paul, he was reminded that the party he's inheriting comes with some rather significant baggage -- including an angry slice of the base, and an opponent (plus spouse) who won't quite go away.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's speech Tuesday in New York may well have been one of the best of her campaign -- but the point is there is no more campaign, no real reason to stay in the race, not if the goal is the nomination she's been running for all this time.

Handling Clinton -- massaging the egos and desires of a bunch that's not wanting in either of those departments -- could well be more important than anything Obama does in his general election against Sen. John McCain.

"Until he deals with the Clinton question, it could be hard for Mr. Obama to move on to what he would like to achieve next," Adam Nagourney writes in The New York Times. "Mrs. Clinton's actions on Tuesday could not have raised her stock with Mr. Obama. Whether she intended to or not, her remarks pulled the spotlight away from him, reminding him that in many ways, she is a character that is hard to push off the stage."

Clinton may well covet the vice presidency (though, of course, she'd still prefer the top spot), and brings a long list to her inevitable endgame negotiations with Obama: campaign debt, policy matters, her role in the campaign, her husband's role, which staffers land where.

But how exactly did she help her case for all of that by telling her supporters she wants to hear from them on her Website -- fostering the very spirit of insurgency ("Denver! Denver!") the party wants and needs to put behind itself for the fall?

This is playing with political fire: "I want the nearly 18 million Americans who voted for me to be respected, to be heard and no longer to be invisible," Clinton said.

(Are they disrespected, mute, and ignored if they don't win an election -- or get the consolation prize?)

The AP's Ron Fournier answers the question Clinton herself posed: "She will press her case for relevancy at the risk of widening the divide between Barack Obama's supporters and her older, whiter, working-class coalition," Fournier writes. "Clinton did not bow out Tuesday because she wants to retain her political leverage, advisers said privately, eying a spot on the ticket, a convention role and perhaps other benefits." x

Sen. Clinton has every right to want what she wants -- and she's still likely to move aside by week's end -- but shouldn't this week be all about what Obama wants?

"Not only did Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., not concede tonight, she didn't even congratulate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, for having secured the Democratic presidential nomination," ABC's Jake Tapper writes. "She said Obama inspired Americans to care about politics, and empowered people to get involved -- but nothing about his rather historic accomplishment."

Indeed, it was Obama congratulating Clinton late Tuesday, on her win in South Dakota; he got her voicemail, per ABC's Sunlen Miller.

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