Legal scholar extraordinaire Richard A. Epstein, one of six all-star panelists to assess Barack Obama in the November issue of reason, considers the Democratic nominee at more length over at Forbes.com:
I know him through our association at the University of Chicago Law School and through mutual friends in the neighborhood. We have had one or two serious substantive discussions, and when I sent him e-mails from time to time in the early days of his Senate term, he always answered in a sensible and thoughtful fashion. And yet, for assessing the course of his likely presidency, I don't know him at all. […]
The odd point is how his many learned and thoughtful supporters couch their endorsement. Almost without exception, they praise the man, not the program. Their claim is that Obama has proved himself to be a consummate politician who understands that the first principle of holding high office is to get reelected. His natural moderation in tone and demeanor, therefore, translate into getting advisers who know their substantive areas, and listening to them before making any rash moves. The dominant trope is that he will be a pragmatic president who will move in small increments toward the center, not in bold steps toward the left.
But is it all true? The short answer is that nobody knows. […]
Obama's vague calls for change that "you can believe in" are, to my thinking, wholly retrograde in their implications. At heart, he is an unreconstructed New Dealer who can see, and articulate, both sides on every question–but only as a prelude to championing the old corporatist agenda with a vengeance.