"It is the most racially integrated neighborhood in the nation's most racially segregated city," Andrew Ferguson writes in the Weekly Standard of the area in south Chicago Barack Obama calls home. It's a college town, a lefty enclave where the moneyed mix with boho bookworms, and "NPR announcer" types walk the streets wearing wire rims and backpacks. But Hyde Park isn't an ordinary college town, it's an unusually isolated one—an island in the middle of a slum.
Politically, it's not part of Chicago politics, Ferguson writes, making Obama, "a politician of Hyde Park pedigree, outside the normal bloodlines of Chicago's black politics." There are advantages to that—being outside the machine, "he stayed clear of all the corruption that's involved with that." But he also had to prove himself to blacks. "Barack is viewed in part to be the white man in blackface in our community," one rival said. (Read more elitism stories.)