SEN. Barack Obama, D-Ill., rose to the top of the Democratic Party pecking order in February based on three assumptions. In March, the truth is unraveling those assumptions.
The first assumption is that he opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning to the end.
But Obama's position on the war has been fluid.
As Ed Lasky of the American Thinker pointed out, while Obama opposed the war resolution in 2002, in 2004, he wrote: "I began to suspect that I might have been wrong [about the war]."
And in July 2004, Obama told the Chicago Tribune: "There's not that much difference between my position [on the war] and George Bush's position at this stage."
So actually he was against the war before he was for it, but now he is against it again.
The second assumption is that he was not tied to the politics of the past.
But Obama's connection with Tony Rezko shows that Obama is not an outsider, but rather an insider. Rezko's trial began this month.
"Rezko, 52, a fundraiser for Sen. Barack Obama and Gov. Rod Blagojevich, is charged with scheming with [Stuart] Levine to split a $1 million bribe and pressure $7 million in kickbacks out of money management firms seeking to invest assets of the $30 billion state teachers pension fund," the Associated Press reported.
He is innocent until proven guilty.
But Obama's connections to Rezko are proven.
Rezko raised about $250,000 for Obama's various campaigns over the years. Obama seems to run for a new office every two years.
That amount is about $100,000 more than Obama had admitted prior to a meeting with editors at Chicago's newspapers on March 14.
Rezko's wife helped the Obamas buy a mansion in Chicago for half the asking price, a deal that Obama has since admitted was a mistake.
The third assumption is that he is above racial politics.
Obama's relationship with the race-baiting Rev. Jeremiah Wright undercuts that assumption.
Wright built up attendance at his church from 87 people in 1971 to 8,500 when he retired on Feb. 10. He preached what is euphemistically referred to as "black liberation theology."
This includes thundering "God damn America" from the pulpit and saying such outrageous things as, "The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color."
The title of Obama's best-selling book - "The Audacity of Hope" - came from a Rev. Wright sermon.
Instead of apologizing and divorcing himself from Wright, on Tuesday, Obama lectured America on race for 45 minutes.
The New York Times immediately hailed Obama's speech a profile in courage.
No, courage would have been to disown Wright as Obama had disowned Don Imus, whose radio show had helped Obama sell many copies of his books, including "The Audacity of Hope."
Imus apologized for his racial slur.
I have yet to hear an apology from the Rev. Wright.
Passing off his most recent sermons as the ramblings of a pastor about to be put out to pasture belie Wright's history. In 1984, Wright traveled with the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to meet with Libyan dictator Muammar Gadafi.
That was four years before Obama joined Wright's church.
The Obama phenomenon is reminiscent of the Howard Dean phenomenon four years ago and Bill Bradley's sudden emergence as a presidential candidate in 2000.
Every four years, Democrats seem to have one of these. They usually fade.
In 1992, Clinton won the nomination and the presidency. In 1976, it was Jimmy Carter.
So there is a modicum of hope for Obama.
But the audacity is gone.
Presidential campaigns, especially the quagmire this one has become, have moments when a candidate's mettle is tested.
My mettle detector senses failure on Obama's part.
He failed to acknowledge the Rezko and Wright problems early and he failed to fully disclose his relationships with those men.
His failure to make maximum disclosure with minimum delay was ordinary for a politician caught in a controversy.
And being ordinary is the last thing a phenomenon can afford to be.