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A Tale of Two Speeches

If you watched the dueling speeches yesterday between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in Selma, Alabama, it's clear why Hillary Clinton is in such a precarious position despite being atop the field for the Democratic nomination.

It's not really news to say that Clinton is no match for Obama rhetorically, but seeing them speak back to back yesterday gave a real sense of just how vastly inferior Clinton is to Obama as a candidate. He exuded warmth and inspiration, she seemed innately incapable of either. The difference between the two was quite clear: Obama preached to his audience, Clinton screeched at hers.

Worse for Clinton than the aesthetic comparison, perhaps, was the tactical result from yesterday. Obama did a masterful job of using the event to take on the notion that he's not "black enough." Here he is tying his experience as a black man - - in fact his very existence - back to the Civil Rights revolution that started in Selma:

Whatever goodwill Clinton might have generated among African-Americans for showing up at the event was swamped by Obama's ability to "lay a claim" to Selma, which he did with the kind of charisma and effectiveness that will only further consolidate his support within the black community.

As Bill Kristol pointed out yesterday on FNS, Obama now trails Clinton by less (10.6%) than McCain trails Giuliani (16.4%). In other words, we've already reached the point where Clinton's "inevitability" is being called into question. It's an especially dangerous place for her because that aura is a big asset to her candidacy, and once it's gone she can never get it back.