There's only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He's half African-American. Whether that will make any difference, I don't know. I haven't heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos. Payday loans, predatory lending, asbestos, lead. What's keeping him from doing that? Is it because he wants to talk white? He doesn't want to appear like Jesse Jackson?
Still, key players who worked with Obama at Altgeld Gardens said he deserves credit for pulling together a team of hundreds of residents who rallied for improvements at their housing projects. Obama helped secure grants for a jobs program and pushed for asbestos removal. His biggest accomplishment may have been to leave in place a group of activist mothers, some of whom continue to work or live at Altgeld Gardens.
And then there's Obama's lead abatement bill. All that is to say nothing of minor details like Obama's support for programs that would create universal access to preschool and health insurance. You don't need to be blind to the very real flaws of Obama and his agenda to recognize that it really is a substantially different one from what's being offered by John McCain.