Like I said, I thought Barack Obama has made better speeches – but I’m (a) somewhat cynical and (b) not an American. The US wire services are carrying reports of crowds of people crying while watching Obama on TV in hotel foyers and airports across the country. Obviously they got something out of it I didn’t.
I think part of it had to do with expectations; while politics junkies know Obama is a great orator from his performance in the primaries the majority of Americans don’t participate in primary politics. Their real first exposure to the democratic nominee happened tonight. And for the past few weeks people’s expectation of Obama has been set by the Republican Party: he’s a vacant, empty-headed celebrity.
Left-wing pundits like Josh Marshall have been tearing their hair out in frustration at the failure of the Obama campaign to push back against Senator McCains negative attack-ads; I now wonder if the Democrats were doing something clever (for the first time in twelve years) and letting the Republicans lower expectations about Obama so that when people tuned in expecting to see some sort of political version of Paris Hilton and were met with the formidible reality of the Illinois Senator in full flight the counter-effect would overwhelm them.