The Candor Candidate

Why the candid candidate is telling people things they don't want to hear

Thomas Dworzak / Magnum for TIME

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama talks with the people of Littleton, New Hampshire, in a town hall forum.

Presidential-primary politics tends to be played like a game of connect the dots, with all the would-be nominees running from interest group to interest group, knowing and delivering precisely what each constituency is expecting to hear. Unless, that is, the would-be nominee happens to be named Barack Obama. Whereas other candidates like to throw red meat before their audiences, Obama is developing a penchant for hurling cold water at them.

It may not be all that unusual for a Democrat to castigate automakers in an environmental speech. But when Obama did the castigating, it was in front of the Detroit...

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