Best-selling author Shelby Steele's recent book on Barack Obama ("A Bound Man") has valuable insights into both the man and the circumstances facing many other blacks -- especially those who were never part of the black ghetto culture but who feel a need to identify with it for either personal, political or financial reasons.
Like religious converts who become more Catholic than the Pope, such people often become blacker-than-thou. For whatever reason, Barack Obama chose a black extremist church decades ago -- even though there was no shortage of very different churches, both black and white -- in Chicago.
Some say that he was trying to earn credibility on the ghetto streets, to facilitate his work as a community activist or for his political career. We may never know why.
But now that Barack Obama is running for a presidential nomination, he is doing so on a radically different basis, as a post-racial candidate uniquely prepared to bring us all together.
Yet the past continues to follow him, despite his attempts to bury it and the mainstream media's attempts to ignore it or apologize for it.
Shelby Steele depicts Barack Obama as a man without real convictions, "an iconic figure who neglected to become himself."
Senator Obama has been at his best as an icon, able with his command of words to meet other people's psychic needs, including a need to dispel white guilt by supporting his candidacy.
But President of the United States, in a time of national danger, under a looming threat of nuclear terrorism? No.