Stanley Kurtz has an informative article in the Weekly Standard on Obama`s years as a state legislator, 1996-2004. Although I`d often spoken of Obama`s curious lack of a paper trail, an especially odd missing link in somebody so verbally adept, it turns out that he wrote columns during those years for his hometown Hyde Park Herald and gave lots of interviews to the local black paper, the Chicago Defender. Kurtz writes:
What they portray is a Barack Obama sharply at variance with the image of the post-racial, post-ideological, bipartisan, culture-war-shunning politician familiar from current media coverage and purveyed by the Obama campaign. As details of Obama`s early political career emerge into the light, his associations with such radical figures as Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Father Michael Pfleger, Reverend James Meeks, Bill Ayers, and Bernardine Dohrn look less like peculiar instances of personal misjudgment and more like intentional political partnerships. At his core, in other words, the politician chronicled here is profoundly race-conscious, exceedingly liberal, free-spending even in the face of looming state budget deficits, and partisan. ...Fundamentally, he is a big-government redistributionist who wants above all to aid the poor, particularly the African-American poor. Obama is eager to do so both through race-specific programs and through broad-based social-welfare legislation. "Living wage" legislation may be economically counterproductive, and Obama-backed housing experiments may have ended disastrously, yet Obama is committed to large-scale government solutions to the problem of poverty. Obama`s early campaigns are filled with declarations of his sense of mission-a mission rooted in his community organizing days and manifest in his early legislative battles. Recent political back flips notwithstanding, Barack Obama does have an ideological core, and it`s no mystery at all to any faithful reader of the Chicago Defender or the Hyde Park Herald.