Notice there was no "back" in the title. That is because I am talking about how his 2000 primary lost to Rep. Bobby Rush made Obama the rock star that he is today.
The Salon article is written by a reporter who knew him back when he was a terrible politician. Barack was a typical, haughty self-entitled Haaaarvard guy. In other words, George W. Bush without the backslapping ability. He tried and failed to be cool and "black." He talked down to people, let them know that he was making a big sacrifice, that he could be making hundreds of thousands in some big law firm, but instead he tried to fix their city. Obama tried to run on his resume rather than on his personality AND his resume.
But a funny thing happened after only getting 31% of the vote. He learned that he needed to work with people to get things done. He learned from critical reporters and colleagues in the State Senate. He learned how to convey his big ideas without sounding intellectually superior to you, but without "dumbing it down." And he learned to use his natural charm and looks to his advantage, and to use his upbringing in the "white world" to his advantage as well. By 2004, he won a crowded Senate primary easily. By 2006, he was charming the country, raising money for Democrats and selling his second best selling novel. By 2007, he was a presidential candidate. In other words, he learned fast.
From reading his first book, the one he wrote before he was full time politician, you get the sense that this is a very introspective person. And from hearing bits from his second book, it seems he now very carefully examines himself and what he does. He is afraid of going back to that 2000 Barack, he is trying to learn the ways of running for president. Of being a movement candidate who is disconnected from the movement. The man has enormous potential to unite the country and win in a landslide against a reactionary same old Republican nominee. He just needs to be comfortable being who he is, and allowing the masses that want him to be president to carry him to the white house.