The Barack Obama phenomenon is about white America. It's not about Barack Obama and it's not about black America. There is this need, this driving hunger, to somehow get this race thing resolved, to redeem the country, to get beyond it. That's [the] phenomenon.
It's all about atonement and redemption.
Which is interesting because, if you take this feeling to its logical conclusion, then race would no longer be an issue in America (at least on the larger level). I have the sense that this is the precise psychological reason why the left is so preoccupied with the idea that Barack will be assassinated.
They are somewhat ambivalent (as I have noted many times before) about any of the approved and sanctioned victim groups actually achieving anything. Thus, they can simultaneously support Obama and be obsessed with his anticipated martyrdom. It means they don't have to change their "oppressor vs oppressed" meme one iota. In fact, from their perspective it would be a psychologically acceptable solution to their ideological dilemma.
I think that is "the thread" that runs through everyone's reaction to Obama, and why his lack of substance is of no importance to them as his empty words "elevate" them. I suspect that many centrist Democrats are unaware that Obama is ranked the most 'liberal' (read leftist) Senator in the US Senate. Hillary, by contrast is only #16 and positively moderate by comparison (yikes!).
But it doesn't matter if the man has become(for them, anyway) a bright shining symbol of America's--and their own--redemption.