In Sunday's Democratic presidential candidate debate on ABC, the most interesting yet least-publicized exchange came in the form of the candidates' responses to a question on religion.
As wildly unpopular as President Bush now is, with approval ratings dipping into the high 20s, it should be obvious his most disastrous policy decisions were driven either by his zeal to appeal to the religious right or by his innate belief (and those of some of his advisers) that his policies were sanctioned by God.
After the 2004 elections some pundits declared big labor dead, killed by its own inability to influence elections.
Organized labor spent millions trying to defeat George W. Bush and put Democrats back into power.
It failed. Nobody wanted to look for the union label.
That was then, this is now. Big labor is back and it is looking to flex its muscles in 2008.
Barack Obama knows it's a stretch to think of him as president.
Just 46 years old and three years out of the Illinois legislature, the freshman senator also understands that the clock is ticking on his chance to surmount that "certain threshold" and convince voters he's ready for the White House.
"The challenge for us is to let people know what I've accomplished at a time when the campaign schedule is getting so compressed," Obama said in a recent interview. "I just don't have much time to make that case."
Don't assume that 2008 will represent an easy Democratic win over the Republicans.
It may be far more interesting than that.
Whenever dramatic change undermines America's broad political consensus, the familiar two-party system fractures into a multi-sided contest. What has turned out to be a long hard slog in Iraq may produce an echo of other presidential-election years in which broad dissatisfaction fueled a serious challenger to the two major parties.
While Fred Thompson's minimalist strategy in the Republican presidential sweepstakes seems to defy all the conventional wisdom so far it seems to be working. With the polls showing the former senator turned actor tied for second with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in Iowa and close to that in other key primary states, Thompson appears almost to be defying the laws of political gravity.
He reminds one of the man who fell off the 20-story building and as he passed each floor was heard to say, "Well, so far so good."
He's an actor-turned-politician in the mode of Ronald Reagan, someone who is at ease in front of a camera or a crowd, a man who can charm an audience with a folksy tale or a clever turn of phrase.
But is Fred Thompson truly Reaganesque?
Reagan was, after all, the Great Communicator, a leader so skilled at connecting with his subjects that he has become the standard by which all would-be presidents are judged.
Thompson's admirers, elated over his decision to seek the Republican nomination for president, already are hailing his candidacy as the second coming of Reagan.
Democratic presidential candidates argued Saturday night that organized labor is an essential part of the nation's economy whose troubles mirror the deterioration of the middle class way of life.
"The only way to reinvigorate the middle class is to reinvigorate the labor movement," Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware told several hundred union members at a labor forum in eastern Iowa.
For all the candidates, it was one stop in a busy several days leading to a Sunday morning debate in Des Moines. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York leads the Democratic field in national polls and has pulled into a three-way tie in Iowa, where the first votes of the 2008 campaign will be tallied.
Say what? The 2008 presidential campaign theme could be "Oops! What I meant was ..."
Just about every Republican and Democrat has flubbed an answer to a question or made a borderline inappropriate comment — some so uncomfortable they make you cringe — only to take back the remarks or seek to clarify them later when under fire.
On the verge of joining the presidential race, Republican Fred Thompson on Friday unapologetically defended his career as a Washington lobbyist paid to influence the government on behalf of an abortion-rights group, a leftist Haitian leader and other special interests.
"Don't confuse the lawyer with the client," Thompson told The Associated Press.
Republicans rushing to embrace Fred Thompson's would-be presidential candidacy might have trouble figuring out what he would do if he actually won the White House.
On most public policy issues, the former Tennessee senator and "Law & Order" actor has offered few, if any, specifics. Even on the dominant issue of the 2008 campaign — the war in Iraq — Thompson has carefully stopped short of wading into what he would do about the conflict should he inherit it, although he has generally backed President Bush.