Here’s a simple enough answer in a nugget Michael Powell’s interview with Obama today in the NYT:
“Abner J. Mikva, the former judge, asked Mr. Obama, fresh out of Harvard, to apply as his clerk. Mr. Obama declined, preferring to labor as a community organizer. But, characteristically, he later befriended the older man.
The judge recognized his talents, but oh that speaking style. Too many ers and uhs, too Harvard and not enough South Side. Mr. Obama did not argue the point; he began paying attention in church.
“He listened to patterns of speech, how to take people up the ladders,” recalls Mr. Mikva, now 81. “It’s almost a Baptist tradition to make someone faint, and, by God, he’s doing it now.” “