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Will Super Tuesday Be New Hampshire All Over Again?

For Barack Obama supporters, there have been a lot of encouraging signs over the last few days--the South Carolina blowout, the Kennedy endorsements, the days of adulatory press coverage--but also, maybe, the seeds of disaster. There are too many echoes of the post-Iowa period for me to be confident in the media narrative of Obama's ascent. Don't these look familiar?

1) The swooning press coverage. The national media--particularly the TV networks--may have taken the word of Ted Kennedy as if he's the Nechung Oracle declaring Obama to be JFK reincarnated, but we haven't seen one way or the other yet that voters feel the same way. The media got out in front of the public after Iowa, too, and look where that got Obama.

2) Accusations of churlishness. "You're likable enough, Hillary" = "The Snub."Both are profoundly silly; both are apparently, aggravatingly, significant.

3) A lackluster debate. In New Hampshire, Obama delivered a wan debate performance the Saturday before the election.There's another one tomorrow. By my count, Obama has won about zero of the roughly 8 million prior debates during this campaign. Clearly, it just isn't his format, and if Hillary has any advantage coming out of Thursday night, look for the comeback kid to become the narrative of the weekend. 

Of course, anything could happen over the next week, from a game-changing Gore or Edwards endorsement to another teary incident from Hillary to the surprise entrance of another candidate into the race. But it's all starting to look like New Hampshire Redux to me.

--Ben Wasserstein