I'm just gonna come in here with a couple of links. First, The New York Times has an article on Barack's law-school days, detailing his rise from unknown to first black president of the Harvard Law Review. He was respected, the article says, and well-known for his ability to compromise and to not exactly let you know what his own opinions were.
Another of Mr. Obama’s techniques relied on his seemingly limitless appetite for hearing the opinions of others, no matter how redundant or extreme. That could lead to endless debates — a mouse infestation at the review office provoked a long exchange about rodent rights — as well as some uncertainty about what Mr. Obama himself thought about the issue at hand.I don't think it's a drawback that Obama can be coy about his own opinions. Just because he can be doesn't mean that he always will be, all the time, or that he can't commit to opinions that he has.
Meanwhile, Barack has called for universal health care by 2013. No details yet, of course, but good to see that he is a part of this positive trend. I'm sure he will be able to find a way to nestle it into a dialogue-friendly approach.
Finally, while tooling around on YouTube I found this video of Barack on the Daily Show a year after his election as Senator, in November 2005. It's worth a watch--he's a funny man.
Update: Yeah, yeah, I can post the streaming video... I'm still not used to this whole thing. See below: