John McCaslin

How big of a deal would it be if Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois emerged from today's Super Tuesday voting as the leading Democratic contender for the White House?

"Every couple of generations the galloping horse of history rides by," MSNBC's Chris Matthews told Inside the Beltway yesterday. "And it's up to that generation whether to mount the horse and ride it."

Mr. Matthews explained that "if Americans were to nominate Barack Obama, it would be one of those moments in history when we choose a Franklin Roosevelt, a John Kennedy, a Ronald Reagan — other times when voters jumped on the galloping horse of history and rode it."

And he expects that the entire world would respond in kind, not only with curiosity and intrigue, but with awe.

"If the country picked Obama, everybody in the world would pay attention. They'd be wondering, 'What's going on over there?' It would stagger the world, be so dramatic for our friends, for our enemies, for everybody," he said.

Otherwise, Mr. Matthews guessed that a White House race that might otherwise pit Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton against Sen. John McCain or former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would not have near the same impact.

Steel magnolia

They couldn't get Condoleezza Rice to run for president — she kept saying she had zero desire — so now supporters of the secretary of state are in town this week calling for her selection as the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee.

Of course, that can't be accomplished until a presidential nominee emerges who desires Miss Rice as his running mate. And then it would be up to her to decide whether to throw her globe-trotting hat into the ring.

Meanwhile, Mary Beth Brown, author of "Condi: The Life of a Steel Magnolia," notes that this year's historic campaign is dominated by issues of race and gender, and "with Condi the Republican party can regain its historic place as the party of equality based on merit. Condi is the logical choice."

Punk's poet

Talk about a sundry group of Washingtonians joining punk rocker, songwriter and poet Patti Smith for a late-night dinner at Teatro Goldoni on K Street after her intimate Smithsonian Institution concert on Friday to benefit the Archives of American Art.

Among those dining with the popular musician on plates of veal ravioli and swordfish was strategic counsel and lifelong Republican Susan Eisenhower, the granddaughter of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who made headlines over the weekend by endorsing Democrat Barack Obama for president. More than any other candidate, she said, the Illinois senator can heal the country's divisions and "encourage ordinary Americans to stand straight again."

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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