I'm told that the network morning shows were heavy with soft-and-fuzzy coverage of Obama's ailing white grandmother, Madelyn Dunham. Obviously Obama would trade that coverage for her good health in a nanosecond. But the fact remains that this is a free-media blast about a side of Barack's family that probably reassures white voters who may be skeptical of a black president, or outright misinformed about Obama's background.

Here's some presumably important context, by the way:

Obama has called [his mother's] death of ovarian cancer at age 53 the worst experience of his life and said, "The biggest mistake I made was not being at my mother's bedside when she died."

"She was in Hawaii in a hospital, and we didn't know how fast it was going to take, and I didn't get there in time," Obama told the Sun-Times in 2004.

  --Michael Crowley