The Note: Return of the Empire

Clinton did her part on the Hill Wednesday: "I am 100 percent committed to doing everything I possibly can to make sure that Sen. Obama is sworn in as the next president of the United States next January here in this Capitol," she said, per ABC's Dean Norland and Jennifer Parker.

New York Times columnist Gail Collins: "Hillary has been saying that her supporters are moving through the five stages of grief. But she herself seems to have invented some brand-new sixth stage of chipper serenity."

All (mostly) niceties from Obama, too, on Wednesday: "We don't have some ten-point strategy to [retire Clinton's debt]. What I said was to my large donors, who are in a position to write large checks, to help Senator Clinton retire her debt, or at least a portion of it," he said, per ABC's Jennifer Duck.

On the big dog: "I want him involved," Obama said. "He is a brilliant politician. He was a outstanding president. And so I want his help not only in campaigning but also in governing."

The love has limits: Obama "won't be emailing his list for help retiring Clinton's debt -- a move that might not have been welcomed by many of his grassroots supporters, but would have been symbolically important to some of Clinton's backers," per Politico's Ben Smith.

But first -- perhaps less-welcome returns abound. The Rev. Michael Pfleger is back with his first interview since his mocking of Clinton's tears became a YouTube sensation, telling ABC's Robin Roberts that he does not "apologize for being passionate, I don't apologize for being free."

"I apologize when my passion or my freeness and my flawedness of character get in the way of the content, which is much more important to me," Pfleger said in an interview broadcast on "Good Morning America" Thursday. "I apologize for my mannerism of what I said. I don't apologize for speaking about [it]. I think entitlement is a reality in this society."

His message remains: "It's the reality of the sensitivity of this country, the name-calling, the number of e-mails and letters using the N word, calling me a wigger and telling me to leave the country, why don't I go to Africa?"

An intriguing float from Robert Novak: "Looming on the horizon are two big potential Obamacons: Colin Powell and Chuck Hagel," Novak writes in his column. "Neither Powell, first-term secretary of state for George W. Bush, nor Hagel, retiring after two terms as a U.S. senator from Nebraska, has endorsed Obama. Hagel probably never will. Powell probably will enter Obama's camp at a time of his own choosing."

Not to be lost in the Clinton/Supreme Court hubbub: A potentially big choice looms for Obama. Will he show up for the vote on the FISA bill (whenever that may be)? He's already enraged liberal activists by saying he supports the measure after previously vowing a filibuster -- but will he cast the fateful vote? (Which is better -- further angering the Netroots, or letting Republicans portray you as indecisive -- shirking a difficult vote?)

"At question is Sen. Barack Obama's relationship with the progressive netroots, the online community that helped aid the Senator's rise to the presidential nomination, but has since seemingly played second fiddle in terms of courted constituencies," Huffington Post's Sam Stein writes.

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