It’s instructive to go back in time and see what was being said about Obama when he was starting out his Presidential race but hadn’t fully invented himself as a moderate yet. It’s especially interesting to look at periodicals with a readership that wouldn’t be afraid of the designation “radical.”
Rolling Stone’s February 2007 profile of Obama is an excellent example. It contains the usual descriptions of the man as both charismatic and somewhat of a soothing blank slate onto which voters could project whatever they might want to see. But looking at Obama’s record, Rolling Stone had this to say:
[Obama] came to the [US] Capitol equipped with his own, swelling celebrity; the Senate was not a perfect fit. Beyond his considerable charm, Obama can be righteous and cocky. He came to Washington pushing the hope that politics could be better—but now he can give the impression that he’d rather be just about anywhere other than in Washington…
This reinforces the perception that Obama really had little interest in the work of being a Senator; it was the steppingstone for his considerable ambition. But certain aspects of Obama’s life that only surfaced to the general public about a year later were already clear to the author, Ben Wallace-Wells, who wrote of Reverend Wright and his fiery sermons, including quotes that clearly show their now-familiar racism. Wallace-Wells adds [emphasis mine]:
This [Wright's church] is as openly radical a background as any significant American political figure has ever emerged from, as much Malcolm X as Martin Luther King Jr. Wright is not an incidental figure in Obama’s life, or his politics. The senator “affirmed” his Christian faith in this church; he uses Wright as a “sounding board” to “make sure I’m not losing myself in the hype and hoopla.” Both the title of Obama’s second book, The Audacity of Hope, and the theme for his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 come from Wright’s sermons. “If you want to understand where Barack gets his feeling and rhetoric from,” says the Rev. Jim Wallis, a leader of the religious left, “just look at Jeremiah Wright.”
Ah, but even discussing Wright, and how influential he actually was in Obama’s life, is now off-limits.
Furthermore [emphasis mine]:
Obama has now spent two years in the Senate and written two books about himself, both remarkably frank: There is a desire to own his story, to be both his own Boswell and his own investigative reporter. When you read his autobiography, the surprising thing—for such a measured politician—is the depth of radical feeling that seeps through, the amount of Jeremiah Wright that’s packed in there…
Obama’s life story is a splicing of two different roles, and two different ways of thinking about America’s. One is that of the consummate insider, someone who has been raised believing that he will help to lead America, who believes in this country’s capacity for acts of outstanding virtue. The other is that of a black man who feels very deeply that this country’s exercise of its great inherited wealth and power has been grossly unjust….
Obama is at once an insider and an outsider, a bomb thrower and the class president. “I’m somebody who believes in this country and its institutions,” he tells me. “But I often think they’re broken.”
The rest of the article is basically approving of Obama, while leaving out all the dirty Chicago politics that won him the elections. Not a word there of Hull or Ryan, nor a whisper of Ayers or Alice Palmer.
Now, of course, it’s only those Right-wing nutroots who are calling Obama radical. The press knows how inflammatory this information will be, and would prefer we hear only Obama’s words of soothing reinvention. At least, till after he’s elected.