With the economy tottering, many political analysts believe Barack Obama should be well ahead of John McCain in the polls. But both Gallup and Rasmussen have the presidential race very tight. So something is not computing.

The Obama campaign is smart. It knows that internal polling indicates many white working-class Americans are very skeptical of Obama, believing he doesn't share their core values. To counter that, the senator has lately been preaching self-reliance, and that is causing some controversy.

Rejecting the politics of victimization rankles some progressive liberals like Jesse Jackson, who as we all know, lashed out against Obama last week. But the senator remains undaunted, saying this to the NAACP yesterday:


BARACK OBAMA: We've got to demand more responsibility from Wall Street. But you know what? We also have to demand more from ourselves. Now I know there are some who have been saying I've been too tough talking about responsibility. NAACP, I'm here to report I'm not going to stop talking about it. So we're serious about reclaiming that dream. We have to do more in our own lives. There's nothing wrong with saying that because the problems that plague our communities, they're not unique to us.


Historically, conservatives have preached self-reliance and liberals have espoused government programs to level the playing field. That tension has been in play for decades. But now Obama's reaching across the line. The question is will voters buy it?

Obama's voting record is party-line liberal. He's not saying he won't expand the federal government because he will. He's just adding a dose of self-reliant philosophy to the entitlement mix.

Is he sincere? Who knows. Since I haven't been able to talk with the senator, I can't get a handle on his thinking process. I don't know if he's a visionary or an opportunist. I simply can't make the judgment right now. But soon, I will know. And of course, I'll report to you.

With America at a crossroads on foreign policy, energy, the economy and in the culture war, we can't afford a president who is shrouded in mystery. We know John McCain. We still don't know Barack Obama.

"Talking Points" is big on self-reliance, as you know. I'm talking to you right now because of it. No government program ever helped me. And I don't want anything from my government except honesty and protection from bad guys. I'll do the rest.

Millions of Americans see it differently. They want stuff from the government. I respect that view, but it's not for me.

Obama is smart in preaching self-reliance. He can't get elected running as a far-left guy, but I'd really like to know just who this guy really is.

And that's "The Memo."

Pinheads & Patriots

According to a readers' survey for ParadeMagazine.com, Tyra Banks is the hardest working person in show business. Ms. Banks has a variety of programs on the air. She beat out Ryan Seacrest, who came in second.

Now, we don't exactly know how hard Ms. Tyra works, but we do know that hard work is the mark of a patriot. So if the Parade voters are correct, Tyra is a patriot.

On the pinhead front, reports say Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt will sell pictures of their newborn twins for perhaps as much as $10 million. If that money goes to charity, fine. But if it does not, not fine. Nobody should be selling pictures of their kids for profit. So Jolie and Pitt are not yet pinheads, but we are watching.

You can catch Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" and "Pinheads & Patriots" weeknights at 8 and 11 p.m. ET on the FOX News Channel and any time on foxnews.com/oreilly. Send your comments to: oreilly@foxnews.com