From Richard Cohen's November 24 Washington Post column:
But to reread the speech is also to come face to face with an Obama of keen moral clarity. Here was a man who knew why he was running for president and knew, also precisely, what he personified. He could talk to America as a black man and a white man -- having lived in both worlds. He could -- and he did -- explain to America what it is like to have been a black man of Wright's age and what it is like even now to be a black man of any age.
Somehow, though, that moral clarity has dissipated. The Obama who was leading a movement of professed political purity is the very same person who as president would not meet with the Dalai Lama, lest he annoy the very sensitive Chinese. He is the same man who bowed to the emperor of Japan when, in my estimation, the president of the United States should bow to no man. He is the same president who in China played the mannequin for the Chinese government, appearing at stage-managed news conferences and events -- and having his remarks sometimes censored. When I saw him in that picture alone on the Great Wall, he seemed to be thinking, "What the hell am I doing here?" If so, it was a good question.
The Barack Obama of that Philadelphia speech would not have let his attorney general, Eric Holder, announce the new policy for trying Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other Sept. 11 defendants in criminal court, as if this were a mere departmental issue and not one of momentous policy. And the Barack Obama of the speech would have enunciated a principle of law and not an ad hoc system in which some alleged terrorists are tried in civilian courts and some before military tribunals. What is the principle in that: What works, works? Try putting that one on the Liberty Bell.