The contemporary Barack Obama still strikes me as a politician who conducts himself well enough. Thankfully there are perspicacious truth-seekers out there to fill in the many gaps I allow.
Steve Sailer has masticated the Senator's autobiographical Dreams from My Father, and discovered that the young Obama more-or-less fits the expected mold of a successful, black Democratic politician. That is, he rejected the tempting allure of the life as a sated minstrel in favor of making sense of his membership in the black community, and then acting with that community in mind.
For a black to win over Republican hearts (and those of white Democrats), he has to have the 'class'--he has to avoid harping on everything from a blatantly racial perspective--of a Clarence Thomas or a Condoleeza Rice. But to succeed in the Democratic Party requires a firm sense of racial identity that colors every political action, real or symbolic. It usually requires a black majority in the electoral area as well, the half-black Obama being an exception. Consequently, most black Democratic leaders are incessant in their focus on how such-and-such is effecting the black community (simply "the community" when directed at a black audience). Charlie Rangel and Al Sharpton are two well-known examples in a field of many.
Obama's racialist tone in Selma and the expositional avalanche of his interesting past that Steve's started, coupled with the fact that to get the White House he first has to win the Democratic nomination, the Senator will likely see much of his generic, raceless veneer melt away. Hillary Clinton, leveraging her marriage to the "first black President", will be able to snatch a significant portion of the black vote if Obama tries to uphold it under evidence to the contrary.
Parenthetically, a person's past matters now more than ever. Reinventing oneself is becoming progressively more difficult to pull off thanks to the invaluable power of the internet. Even the past conduct of relatively obscure auxiliaries to a political campaign matter, as the Edwards' blogger spectacle illustrates. The Keynes' defense, rather than pretending to be deaf to any concerns about the past (Hillary Clinton's strategy), will probably become the new standard. Romney's using it on a few social issues like abortion, and Obama has proactively done so regarding past drug use.