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Obama's Rocky Mountain High

Tonight Barack Obama delivered another wonderful speech that will long be wistfully remembered. Spoken aloud, the speech sang more than it read onscreen. And although it had a fairly stock, cookie-cutter interlude in the middle, overall I expect it will be said that he demonstrated an ability to give an address that combines policy seriousness with rhetorical uplift.

One mildly skeptical note: Obama's decision to close with a riff on Martin Luther King. Even if he (interestingly) didn't name King, and even given the significance of today's date, was the the civil rights movement really the ideal conclusory note for tonight's critical, very middle American audience? His closing line, a citation of scripture was certainly shrewd. But surely MLK references were a safer bet in the primaries.

Never mind that for now. This convention was initially diverted by the Clinton psychodrama and some initial muddling of the message. But now, I suspect, it will be remembered for catharsis--and, above all, for Obama's terrific, confident, inspiring moment of grace.

It's a shame that all that had to come before the Republican convention. In St. Paul next week I imagine a flurry of mockery and character attacks that will dampen some of the high Democrats are feeling now. Bad luck. But Obama did what he had to do. Now we'll see what the GOP is willing to do to him.

--Michael Crowley