In a democracy, what a candidate says is less important than how the voter hears it; how a candidate defines himself is less important than how the voter perceives him. In our special Democratic Convention issue, David Von Drehle has written the seminal piece on the five different ways that voters see Barack Obama. More than any other modern candidate, Obama is a one-man Rorschach test telling us about our own perceptions, biases, hopes and fears. David's five categories--the Black Man, the Healer, the Novice, the Radical, the Future--describe the prisms through which we see the Democratic nominee.
David and Karen Tumulty (our national political correspondent, who is covering Obama and wrote the piece about the candidate's inner circle) caught up with the Senator recently for an interview in the weight room at Rio Grande High School in Albuquerque, N.M. He was fighting off a cold that he lightheartedly blamed on the fact that he had finally had some time with his daughters and their cousins in Hawaii.
Our chief political columnist, Joe Klein, went to see Obama at a town hall in North Carolina and talks about what he calls the candidate's "passion gap." Senior editor Amy Sullivan was in South Carolina to profile an African-American first-time delegate who learned about Obama from his book. This week we debut the column of political consultant Mike Murphy, who wrote about Obama's struggles with working-class voters. You'll be able to find Mike's smart commentary on Swampland, our must-read politics blog. We're also featuring a column by Gwen Ifill, senior correspondent for the NewsHour on PBS, on the young black leaders whom Obama has inspired. Gwen, who will be moderating the vice-presidential debate in October, is writing a book on politics and race in the age of Obama. And on top of all that, we have six pages of behind-the-scenes pictures of Obama from Callie Shell--and on this page, a campaign first: Barack Obama's own photographic credit, for a picture he took of Callie. The Senator should keep his day job.
Our entire political team will be covering the Democratic Convention 24/7 on TIME.com the Page and Swampland, with reporting, video, commentary and breaking news. (You'll also hear about the best soirées from our special party correspondent, Joel Stein.) Mark Halperin, who himself is 24/7, will be taping his daily PageCasts all around Denver with special guests. Convention insiders will be able to take a shortcut to the Page for the week--and you can too, by downloading the Page icon to your BlackBerry. Plus, there is a new daily text-only version of the Page newsletter. Finally, Gwen's piece and Jay Newton-Small's "Hotshots to Watch" are the inspiration for a panel we're convening in Denver on the next generation of Democratic leaders.
Richard Stengel, MANAGING EDITOR