I'm not in the habit of using that phrase - ‘lunatic fringe’ - and I expect Barack Obama is also not in the habit of using it, even in the privacy of his own mind. Others are, however, and it's their perspective along with that of those they use it to refer to that I hope to invoke here.
Now, to be fair, either extreme of the conventional left-right political spectrum might be described as a lunatic fringe, particularly by moderates of the opposite persuasion, but since Obama is a Democrat, and therefore presumably left-of-center, those on the left are more likely to think of him as their man and it's their view of what constitutes the ‘lunatic fringe’ that's intended here.
Frankly, I don't think Obama is all that far left-of-center, in conventional terms, but that depiction fails to capture that he is nevertheless a radical, one whose radicalism is deeply rooted in the values of the political center. I doubt that is lost on anyone who really cares about how America is changing and where we're headed; Obama also really cares, and that has to resonate with them, even if they might quibble about the details.
But that's only a theory, without the benefit even of knowing whether the leaders of the political right wing are taking a wait-and-see attitude or doing their best to undermine Obama's momentum, much less which of these the man on the street is more inclined to listen to. So I'm left to wonder whether the sheer quality of the man we just elected as our next President is apparent to those who are likely to wrongly assume they have nothing in common with him.
I wish him well, and hope his leadership has the effect of pulling America closer together, not least by mobilizing the energies of those who care the most, at both ends of the political spectrum, behind a common purpose.