[The New Republic's] John Judis tracked down Jerry Kellman, who in 1985 "hired Obama to organize residents of Chicago's South Side." Kellman describes a conversation the two "community organizers" had at a conference on "social justice" in October 1987:
"[Obama] wanted to marry and have children, and to have a stable income," Kellman recalls.
But Obama was also worried about something else. He told Kellman that he feared community organizing would never allow him "to make major changes in poverty or discrimination." To do that, he said, "you either had to be an elected official or be influential with elected officials." In other words, Obama believed that his chosen profession was getting him nowhere, or at least not far enough. . . .
And so, Obama told Kellman, he had decided to leave community organizing and go to law school.
Another way of putting this might be that Obama left community organizing because he wanted a job in which he had actual responsibilities (and, of course, earned more money).
But Obama did not decide only that "community organizing" was not for him. Judis reports the future senator took part in a September 1989 symposium in which he "rejected the guiding principles of community organizing: the elevation of self-interest over moral vision; the disdain for charismatic leaders and their movements; and the suspicion of politics itself." Later, Obama "would begin to construct a political identity for himself that was not simply different from his identity as a community organizer--but was, in fact, its very opposite."
-- James Taranto, breaking down how the world's #1 "community organizer" behaved before we knew him, for the Wall Street Journal