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It was a remarkable scene: Bill and Hillary Clinton sitting up in the stands, watching as Barack Obama took over their Democratic Party.

The Clintons stepped aside with good grace. For Bill especially, ceding the spotlight has never been easy.

But here is the real lesson of last night: Barack Obama is a tough, canny politician.

He did something only one other politician has done in the last 30 years: He beat the Clintons.

(Trivia question: Who was that other politician? Answer at the end of this blog.)

Clinton won election after election in Arkansas, and many of them were only for two-year terms. He won two races for President. He beat impeachment. Then Hillary did what many said she could not do: win election to the U.S. Senate from New York.

A year ago, we all thought she was unbeatable in the Democratic race. But Obama beat her.

This is not a man to be underestimated.

Of course, the Democratic Party’s official Big Heads and Big Mouths are blabbering about how Obama is in trouble and McCain is eating his lunch.

Maybe. Maybe Obama will not be able to get over this last hurdle.

But they’ve buried his chances before in this campaign. Too soft, they said. Too cerebral.

I’m sorry, but you don’t get far in Chicago politics by being soft and cerebral. And, in David “The Ax” Axelrod, Obama is bringing a hatchet man to the knife fight ahead.

You won’t see the Obama campaign anguishing – as John Kerry’s campaign did – over whether to reply to a swift-boat attack.

(Answer to trivia question: Frank White, who beat Clinton in 1980 when his first reelection campaign tripped over his own youthful arrogance and Jimmy Carter carting off Cuban refugees to Arkansas. Clinton, guided by Dick Morris, came back in 1982 and won.)

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