Barack Obama’s great strength as a communicator is his ability to address multiple audiences at once. He stoked his base and repositioned himself in the center. He stayed true to his primary message and laid claim to the legacy of Bill Clinton. He severely cudgeled his opponent while staking out the moral high ground. He laced his speech with the specificity that the moment demanded while replicating the lyricism of his last convention speech. 

I mean only the good parts of this analogy: Tonight reminded me of the Beijing opening ceremony. It outdid every version of the event that came before it—at least in the awesomeness of the spectacle and the images it generated.

Will this move the polls? I can’t imagine that his numbers among Democrats won’t rise--and he had room to grow with that group. He did a good job crafting a personae that will appeal to those just tuning in with the right mixture of patriotism, populism, and post-partisanship. With his talk about individual responsibility and taunting of McCain, he projected toughness. He was lucky to go first. The impression left by this speech will stick. It will make him much harder to caricature.

--Franklin Foer