MODO TO OBAMA: TOUGHEN UP, WIMP.

The inimitable Maureen Dowd, in yesterday's column, churned up her customary blend of insight and meanness to send that message to Barack Obama, with whose campaign she has been traveling.

Obama sounded whiny after his losses, chastising reporters on his plane for asking him hard questions about Goolsbee and Antonin Rezko. Privately, his people conceded that he hadn’t been as fierce about winning as Hillary, once more playing rope-a-dope.

He’s now learned what Hillary learned in Iowa: You can’t cruise to victory on a coronation strategy.

While Dowd has driven me nuts throughout this campaign with some of her over-the-top (and sometimes sexist) pronouncements about Hillary Clinton (proof of Hillary's monstrous fecklessness: she gave Socks the cat to Betty Currie), she has a point about Obama's high-road strategy. Problem is, he really can't play the way Clinton does and maintain the rationale for his campaign, which is all about a "new kind of politics."

He's in a tricky spot. However, my gut tells me he would be mistaken to abandon the philosophy by which he's played so far. When he's won, he's won by refusing to meet her blow for blow; refusing to take the bait. He played that game most masterfully in his last debate with Clinton. The trick now will be to arrive at a strategy that turns Clinton's own multiple lines of attack against her.

--Adele M. Stan

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