Yglesias Award Nominee

"Say what you want about Obama, he's no radical. Yes, he has an unusual name, but once upon a time, all of our names -- whether Irish, Italian, or Hungarian -- were considered uncommon. Despite his unfamiliar persona, his is a charming and conventional American success story -- he grew up in a broken home, was raised by a relative, became chief editor of the Harvard Law Review (hardly the house organ for a bastion of bomb-throwers), and then spent most of his political career in the bowels of that well-known cauldron of Marxism: the Illinois state legislature.

Along the way, Obama clearly made the acquaintances of all kinds of folk -- including Ayres and Wright, the latter of whom became one of his many spiritual mentors and has already damaged Obama's candidacy all that he's going to.

But the pattern throughout his career indicates that Obama apparently cultivated these gentlemen -- and undoubtedly many others -- more for what they could do for him and his political career than for what he could do for them. And he has already disassociated himself from both Wright and Ayres, albeit clumsily. Does that make him very ambitious? Yup. But if that were a disqualification, we could eliminate virtually every presidential hopeful in history, including John McCain," - Steve Stark, RealClearPolitics.