Peggy Noonan takes a closer look at the McCain/Obama race:
They're paying attention now
Why is it a real race now, with John McCain rising in the polls and Barack Obama falling? There are many answers, but here I think is an essential one: The American people have begun paying attention.
It's hard for our political class to remember that Mr. Obama has been famous in America only since the winter of '08. America met him barely six months ago! The political class first interviewed him, or read the interview, in 2003 or '04, when he was a rising star. They know him. Everyone else is still absorbing.
This is what they see:
An attractive, intelligent man, interesting, but—he's hard to categorize. Is he Gen. Obama? No, no military background. Brilliant Businessman Obama? No, he never worked in business. Famous Name Obama? No, it's a new name, an unusual one. Longtime Southern Governor Obama? No. He's a community organizer (what's that?), then a lawyer (boo), then a state legislator (so what, so's my cousin), then U.S. senator (less than four years!).
There is no pre-existing category for him.
Add to that the wear and tear of Jeremiah Wright, secret Muslim rumors, media darling and, this week, abortion (ed not: I'd speak more on this but it is above my pay grade).
It took a toll, which led to a readjustment. His uniqueness, once his great power, is now his great problem.
And over there is Mr. McCain, and—well, we know him. He's POW/senator/prickly, irritating John McCain.