Sen. Obama is a highly gifted writer who has published two large books. We can assume that the first, his 1995 autobiography, wasn't ghost-written because, although it's very well-written, it's also quite boring due to his monomaniacal focus on the topic of "race and inheritance." A professional hack would have insisted on punching it up with more funny stories to make it more entertaining.
So, here's a man with a major talent for expressing himself in writing, and who has been obsessed with social change and politics for his entire life. Yet, where are the articles commenting on current affairs written by Obama before his focus-tested emergence on the national stage a few years ago?
Maybe there are bunch of them out there, but I sure haven't heard of any.
Consider that for eight years, Obama held the job of "Lecturer" at the University of Chicago Law School, the same title as his colleague, federal judge Richard A. Posner. During that period, Posner published, roughly, one quadrillion articles. But Obama, so far as I can tell, doesn't seem to have published anything.
Sure, Obama was busy being a state legislator, but Posner was busy being the top judge of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, and writing more decisions than any other judge in America.
Now, it's often been said that the reason Posner isn't on the Supreme Court is because he has such a lengthy paper trail, which the Democrats would howl over if a Republican President ever nominated him for the Supreme Court.
My impression is that Obama has played his cards very close to his vest from a very early age in order to preserve his viability as a Senate or even Presidential candidate, or as a Supreme Court nominee.
That shows a striking level of self-disciplined ambitiousness, which could seem reassuring or scary, depending on how you look at it.
It also suggests that his personal political views during this long period before he assembled a team of focus-testers were not of the happy-clappy "bring us together" ilk that he's pushing today. After all, what would be the long-term harm of writing a few articles urging bipartisan understanding if that's what he really believed in during the 1980s and 1990s?
Instead, this logic suggests that he realized all along that expressing his personal political views distinctly on paper could come back to haunt him in his drive for national power.
Can anybody do a Lexis-Nexis search for the 1980s and 1990s? He did a lot of interviews around 1991 when he was elected president of the Harvard Law Review, but he's awfully good at playing interviewers. (Amusingly, actor Blair Underwood spent some time with Obama around then to do research for his character on "LA Law.") So, did he write letters to editors or anything like that?