The third time was the charm. After failing her first chance to throw her support to Barack Obama and holding her nose the second time, Hillary Clinton finally aced the loyalty test.
Her winning audition with Obama in New Hampshire revives the only question that matters: Is she going to be his running mate?
My bet a month ago was that he shouldn't and wouldn't make the offer. Now I'm not sure. Clinton's Friday performance adds to my growing belief the dream ticket is an on-again possibility.
Two things have happened that help her chances of extending the streak of having a Bush or a Clinton on one of the national tickets. It's been the case every four years since Poppy Bush was Ronald Reagan's running mate in 1980, and 2008 is trending in that direction.
The first change is her behavior, where she has emerged from her vacation without the chip on her shoulder. The second thing that has happened is that Obama's numerous flip-flops have created more doubts about who he is and what he stands for.
Clinton, who reportedly wants the veep spot, certainly didn't hold back at their first joint appearance. She was so good she almost had me forgetting how she was arguing to superdelegates not long ago that Obama was unelectable.
She may still believe that, but how she acts is what matters. While part of the reason she's leaning forward is that she doesn't want to be blamed if Obama loses, she also realizes that enthusiasm for him serves her interests, too. Her future depends on repairing her relations with black Democrats, and there is no faster way to do that than by giving her best for Obama.
When she does that, as she did Friday, it's obvious he has to consider putting her on the ticket. She gave a better speech than he did and won the gravitas weigh-in. She would help him reach more women and lower-income whites if she were on the ticket than a mere surrogate.
They certainly looked like running mates, which shifts the dream-ticket question. Instead of why should he, it becomes why shouldn't he?
The only way he can say no is by showing he can win without her, and that having her would actually subtract from his "change" brand.
The polls that show him leading John McCain in seven swing states allow Obama to argue he doesn't need her. But those polls could change in a heartbeat, and they will if he keeps muddying his brand with too many changes.
Ever since he secured the nomination, Obama has jettisoned his primary persona and made a mad dash from the far left to something closer to the center. On everything from campaign finance to wiretapping to NAFTA and guns, he has disowned many of the positions that helped him energize the activists.
As he tacks toward more moderate positions on Iraq, Iran and Israel, he erodes many foreign policy positions that defined him to the left of her. While those shifts are probably necessary to reach a general election audience, they undercut his claims of a new kind of truth-in-advertising politics.
So, if he's going to act like a Clinton, why not team up with one?
There are still some good reasons not to, Bubba chief among them. Amid reports he's still nursing his grudges, doubts about whether Bill Clinton could accept Obama as President must be taken seriously.
Hillary brings her own baggage - and there is a question of whether she and Obama could work together. They've come a long way since the bitter primary season, but four years? Eight years?
Then again, nobody has emerged as a better alternative, so Hillary ought to stay near the red phone. That 3 a.m. call might be from Obama.