Jonathan Cohn

Senior Editor

Those of you who have followed my primary night entries know that I've consistently urged Barack Obama to focus on substance in his speeches. The early speeches, particularly the one he gave after Iowa, seemed to be all about building a movement. He said very little about what he'd do with that movement -- i.e., what kinds of changes he hoped the movement would help push into law. His rivals, meanwhile, pounded the issues and, for the most part, benefitted from that. More recently, I thought, he got the balance just right.

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About two weeks ago, I wrote in this space about Congressman Jim Cooper of Tennessee.

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The George Polk Awards are among the most prestigious in journalism. And this year's winners, announced today, for the first time include a blogger: Josh Marshall, of TalkingPointsMemo.com, for his coverage of the U.S. Attorneys scandal.  It's not the first time Josh and his site led the national media on a story.

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I see the Clinton campaign is still pressing to seat delegates from the Michigan and Florida primaries. What I fail to see is why. Like most people, I find the effort objectionable on philosophical grounds – particularly in Michigan, where Clinton's name was the only one on the ballot. The Clinton campaign says that it is merely trying to respect the rights of Michigan residents who went to the polls that day. Well, I happen to be one of those people. And I find the argument unpersuasive. But put that aside. It's the sheer practicality of this effort that baffles me at the moment.

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Obama's Best Speech Yet

It's been a week or so since I've heard Obama's stump speech, so maybe this is old news.  But -- wow -- he is really going after John McCain.  And he's doing a damn fine job of it. He started by honoring McCain's service, with all apparent sincerity, and then pivoted quickly to this line: "John McCain has the wrong priorities -- because they are bound to the policies of the past." He then promised "a clear choice," tying McCain to the Bush tax cuts and, in particular, the war in Iraq: "John McCain won't be able to say I ever supported this war in Iraq, because I opposed it from the start. Sena

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Barack Obama is speaking in Madison, Wisconsin. And one of his first lines was a note of gratitude to the state's Democratic governor, Jim Doyle.

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Chuck Todd of MSNBC is my hero. As I wrote after last week's contests, at this point the nomination race is all about delegates. States matter a lot less -- even though states are inevitably soaking up most of the media attention. (A lot of that is a function of timing, of course.

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Missing Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney's decision to withdraw from the Republican presidential campaign will surely please a lot of people -- starting with his rivals, both present and former.  It was no secret that Romney was widely reviled among the candidates.  Romney's willingness to transform his entire political persona, from the moderate technocrat who governed in Massachusetts to the conservative crusader who tried -- without enough success -- to win over the Republican base, really was breathtaking, even by the standards of politicians.  That, combined with his willingness to spend untold sums of his personal w

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Hola, Puerto Rico!

So now what? Like a lot of people, that was my first thought this morning, as I checked the final results trickling in from Super Tuesday. Looking around the web, I see a lot of smart analyses about how the coming contests will shape up.  (Here's Harold Meyerson.  Here's our own John Judis and Noam Scheiber.) The consensus seems to be that the the next few states are good ones for Barack Obama: In Maryland, Virginia, and then Louisiana, he can count on help from the large African-American populations.

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I know some of the networks called Missouri for Clinton, but right Obama is winning by 5,000 votes with 98 percent of the precincts reporting.  And according to the MSNBC breakdown, the oustanding returns come from just three counties, two of which are strongly pro-Obama.  (One of them is St. Louis City.) Maybe they know something I don't, but it sure doesn't look like a Clinton win right now. Of course, as I noted earlier, whether Clinton or Obama "won" the state may not affect the ultimate delegate count -- which, don't forget, is what really matters.  --Jonathan Cohn

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