The Note: Grounded Control

Should we care that . . .

Sarah Palin and Barack Obama are both pondering futures they don't want to anticipate?

John McCain wants to make the race about another professor (even if he still has Bill Ayers on his mind)?

Plenty of Democratic senators and governors will say nice things about Obama on camera?

Joe Biden is suddenly boring?

Even Borat wants us not to vote (but not really -- and not even for Bob Barr?)?

All of our assumptions just might be dealt atop a house of cards?

For the moment, toss those worries away: Five days out, Obama has wrested control of the race with his typical disciplined style -- and someone's going to have to scramble to take it from him.

Consider his extraordinary Wednesday evening, framed by 30 minutes of primetime television where Obama did not mention the words "John McCain." (Can you imagine McCain going on TV for 30 seconds at this stage of the race without mentioning Obama?)

It was gauzy, sad at times, and it was as unusual as a four-inning World Series clincher. It featured too many starry-eyed politicians, and too much cheesy music. It was also masterfully executed. And the fact that it could be done speaks to more than the wallet behind it.

Cognizant of what got him here, and mindful of what might get him there, Obama highlighted not just himself but the idea he represents. It delivers a message on a tactical level, with solutions for all the hot-button issues, yet mostly it works on an inspirational level -- getting voters to believe in something bigger than themselves, which made Obama's candidacy possible in the first place.

Wednesday may not be the night he clinched anything, but it may end up being the night he made the turn for home. By the time No. 42 finally turned it on for a would-be No. 44, this looked like Obama's race, with McCain and the rest of us just living in it.

"Every single line during that 30 minutes was something that the campaign knows works and appeals to those undecided voters," ABC's George Stephanopoulos reports. "What you saw here was a highly competent, professional, virtuoso performance. The fact that they could go 28 minutes in and hit live to a campaign rally in Florida and right down to the final Obama Biden logo even showed a rising sun. One of the things the campaign knows is that the most optimistic presidential candidate always wins."

"Aired on seven network and cable stations, the ad served as a national get-out-the-vote organizing tool for Obama operatives," Cathleen Decker writes in the Los Angeles Times. "It offered even the swiftest channel-flipper the chance to see Obama looking presidential, helping to condition voters to that possibility. And once again it proved to John McCain, and everyone else, how Obama's deep pool of campaign cash has allowed him to rewrite the rules of the campaign."

"Barack Obama effectively knocked on every door in the nation Wednesday night," David Saltonstall writes in the New York Daily News.

"Barack Obama pulled out all the political and technological stops," Kathy Kiely writes for USA Today.

New politics of pile-on: "Six days before the election, Obama's team produced a 'shock and awe' Wednesday, throwing up a stunning number of assets at John McCain," reports Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times.

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