David Brooks on Barack Obama when Hillary Clinton was the frontrunner:

I’ve been poring over press clippings from Obama’s past, looking for inconsistencies and flip-flops. There are virtually none.... Obama does not ratchet up hostilities; he restrains them. He does not lash out at perceived enemies, but is aloof from them. In the course of this struggle to discover who he is, Obama clearly learned from the strain of pessimistic optimism that stretches back from Martin Luther King Jr. to Abraham Lincoln. -- "The Obama-Clinton Issue," December 18, 2007

Barack Obama has won the Iowa caucuses. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel moved by this.... This is a huge moment. It’s one of those times when a movement that seemed ethereal and idealistic became a reality and took on political substance.... Obama has achieved something remarkable.... Obama is changing the tone of American liberalism, and maybe American politics, too.-- "The Two Earthquakes," January 4, 2008

Both [Barack Obama and John McCain] offer a politics that is grand and inspiring.... The key word in any Obama speech is “you.” Other politicians talk about what they will do if elected. Obama talks about what you can do if you join together. Like a community organizer on a national scale, he is trying to move people beyond their cynicism, make them believe in themselves, mobilize their common energies. -- "McCain and Obama," January 8, 2008

And then Monday, something equally astonishing happened. A throng of Kennedys came to the Bender Arena at American University in Washington to endorse Obama. Caroline Kennedy evoked her father. Senator Edward Kennedy’s slightly hunched form carried with it the recent history of the Democratic Party.... The Kennedys and Obama hit the same contrasts again and again in their speeches: the high road versus the low road; inspiration versus calculation; future versus the past; and most of all, service versus selfishness.-- "The Kennedy Mystique," January 29, 2008

Brooks on Obama now that Obama is the frontrunner:

Barack Obama vowed to abide by the public finance campaign-spending rules in the general election if his opponent did. But now he’s waffling on his promise. Why does he need to check with his campaign staff members when deciding whether to keep his word? Obama says he is practicing a new kind of politics, but why has his PAC sloshed $698,000 to the campaigns of the superdelegates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics? Is giving Robert Byrd’s campaign $10,000 the kind of change we can believe in? If he values independent thinking, why is his the most predictable liberal vote in the Senate? A People for the American Way computer program would cast the same votes for cheaper. And should we be worried about Obama’s mountainous self-confidence? -- "When the Magic Fades," February 19, 2008

--Christopher Orr