Barack Obama’s speech outlining a muscular antiterrorism policy wasn’t
his “Sister Souljah moment,” says Thomas B. Edsall, political editor of
The Huffington Post. But that’s only because Obama has already had at
least two Sister Souljah moments, Edsall suggests.

The speech was “part of the Illinois Senator’s larger campaign strategy, demonstrating his willingness to break from liberal orthodoxy — defying teachers’ unions, proponents of racially based affirmative action, and Democratic constituencies wary of the use of force,” Edsall writes. He later adds, “Although little noticed, Obama has been challenging influential Democratic primary constituencies at a rate of about once a month, building what now is a significant record of dissent from key party factions. He has taken on civil rights groups, the National Education Association, and the powerful lobby opposed to any changes in Social Security benefits.”

Like Bill Clinton in 1992, Obama is “seeking to establish his political independence from Democratic party interest groups, refuting
stereotypes which might encumber his candidacy,” Edsall writes.

And unlike many political observers who have emphasized Hillary Clinton’s sizeable lead so far, Edsall also thinks that Obama’s campaign is having “unprecedented success”: “Despite Hillary Clinton’s institutional and organizational advantage, Obama has moved from running 20-plus points behind Clinton at the start of the year to a current deficit of only 12 to 13 points, compared to John Edwards’ 18 points lag behind Clinton today.”