The Note: Return of the Empire

Stein: "Obama's decision to embrace a compromise on FISA legislation -- a virtual slap in the face to some progressive bloggers demanding no legal immunity for telecommunications companies -- was the catalyst of the recent chatter. Other concerns arose days prior when Obama cut an advertisement on behalf of a conservative southern Democrat whose primary challenger was favored by the liberal blogosphere."

"The honeymoon has ended," Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown writes. "Disappointed over his position on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the online activists feel jilted and betrayed and have taken to questioning his progressive credentials. One prominent blogger, Atrios, has even given him the moniker 'Wanker of the Day.' "

(Quick thought -- this will not end or even seriously harm the liberal blogosphere's support for Obama; consider their alternative. And even if it did -- does he need this particular batch of old friends anymore?)

The RNC keys it up Thursday morning: "Why did he oppose immunity for telephone companies before he supported [it]?"

McCain senior adviser Steve Schmidt takes the argument to an "interested parties" memo that has our interest: "There has never been a time when Barack Obama has bucked the party line to lead on an issue of national importance. He has never been a part of a bipartisan group that came together to solve a controversial issue. He has never put his career on the line for a cause greater than himself.  Even as a state Senator, Obama voted 'present' on controversial bills."

And Thursday is one of those days that could be shaped by the judicial branch, with the Supreme Court's decision on the D.C. gun ban expected.

Obama sidestepped questions on his position Wednesday: "What I'd like to do," the former constitutional law instructor said, "is wait and see how the Supreme Court comes down and evaluate the actual reasoning in the case to see how broad or narrow the decision's going to be."

The quote that will be most widely circulated by GOP operatives Thursday: "Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional," James Oliphant and Michael J. Higgins wrote in the Chicago Tribune in November.

Obama tries to get out from under that in advance of the court decision: "That statement was obviously an inartful attempt to explain the Senator's consistent position," campaign spokesman Bill Burton tells ABC's Teddy Davis Thursday morning.

"The gun rights issue is one area where we have an extensive Obama record to examine," Jim Geraghty writes for National Review. "He lived in a city that effectively banned handguns, and in his entire career there as a community organizer, a state legislator, and a U.S. senator, there is no record of Obama ever suggesting he had a problem with that policy. Though inaction, he made clear he saw nothing unconstitutional about a de facto ban on handguns."

The anti-gun lobby is poised for defeat: "We've lost the battle on what the Second Amendment means," Brady Campaign president Paul Helmke told ABC News' Teddy Davis. "Seventy-five percent of the public thinks it's an individual right. Why are we arguing a theory anymore? We are concerned about what we can do practically."

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