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We should have seen this one coming. Politico’s Ben Smith was coaching Hillary on how to exit the race with grace pretty early and now he’s given us another example of how much of  Team Obama supporter he is.

Ben Smith: Obama Brings a Gun to a Knife Fight

Obama doesn’t actually use the phrase “new politics” a lot, and this is a box that the Clinton campaign tried, and failed, to keep him in last year, when it emerged early that he was happy to throw punches, and even to start fistfights, sending, for instance, the first negative mail to hit in Iowa last fall.

Obama never paid much of a price for his willingness to go negative. He also, to be fair, never promised that he wouldn’t attack, and indeed often promised to be tougher than past Democrats, and bragged of his Chicago training. He disavowed nasty character attacks, but then everybody disavows nasty character attacks.

What’s left of course, is to speculate on what form of political change Obama promises: It’s not some sort of disarmament; it’s not any large deviation from traditional Democratic policy; it’s more a vaguer — and harder to control, and deliver — promise to lead the country past the deep cultural divisions around race, religion and even Vietnam that have dominated national politics for decades.

Who signs his checks?