This is hopeful (emphasis mine):
"Look, let me talk about the broader issue, this whole notion that I am shifting to the center," he said. "The people who say this apparently haven't been listening to me."
To this, he adds, parenthetically: "And I must say some of this is my friends on the left" and those in the media.
"I am someone who is no doubt progressive," he said, adding that he believes in universal health care and that government has a strong role to play in overseeing financial institutions and cracking down on abuses in bankruptcies and the like.(...)
"I believe in a whole lot of things that make me progressive and put me squarely in the Democratic camp," he said. But, he noted, he does not believe that the active hand of government is a replacement, say, for parental responsibility in education.(...)
"One of the things you find as you go through this campaign, everyone becomes so cynical about politics," Mr. Obama said. There is an "assumption that your must be doing everything for political reasons."
Voters should understand, he said, that they rarely will find themselves in 100 percent agreement with him. "But don't assume that's because I'm just doing it for "political reasons, he said.
"That just means we disagree," he said.
This is positive for several reasons.
First, and most obviously, Obama self-identifies as a progressive twice in this speech. While it is not a replacement for standing up for progressive policies, it is still important for a Democratic nominee to publicly identity with an ideological term associated with the American left. This strikes me as quite novel, as least in recent decades.
Second, Obama also self-identifies as a Democrat, rather than his typical post-partisan rhetoric. This is good both because it helps build up the Democratic brand, and because it will actually be new Democrats, not Independents or Republicans, who carry Obama to victory.
Third, the speech is actually directed at what Obama calls "my friends on the left." I can't remember a Presidential nominee specifically courting left wing voters and activists before. Honestly, I really can't. This is a sign of increased respect and being taken more seriously. The Obama FISA group played an important role in this regard.
Fourth, Obama says, bluntly, to take him at his word. Since it is now vogue to believe that Obama has secret plans to stand up for left-wing policies that differ from his public statements, it is nice to have confirmation from Obama himself that we should stop believing in such secret plans.
Overall, a very positive statement, and a sign that progressives are being taken more seriously. Hopefully, Obama will continue to self-identify as a progressive as the campaign goes on.