And now the real story
If you're not one of the nearly 40 million people who watched it live (that's a stunning number; it's actually the highest ever for a political convention), do yourself a favor and watch it for yourself now.
The thing I love about Barack Obama is that he seems to understand that, while he's uniquely positioned to be the face of this movement--attractive, telegenic candidate, different at a glance from the hacks who've been destroying the country, brilliant orator with a background as a community organizer--it isn't actually about him. We cheer for Obama not to feed his ego and not because we think he'll solve everything by himself. We cheer for Obama because he's the face of a movement of millions of us who have had enough.
We want government to work for us, not just line rich people's pockets. We're sick of being fed shit sandwiches and told by the government and the media alike why it's good for us. And Obama laid out a vision last night, in front of 70,000 live listeners and 40 million on television, of what America could look like.
The argument that Obama is some kind of empty suit running on vagueries and his own personality has always been nonsense. Anyone who has been to www.barackobama.com is drowning in policy specifics. And anyone who watched Obama's speech last night could only conclude that Obama is trying to sell the country on his actual policy agenda. I suppose he's betting that people mean what they say when they tell pollsters they actually want liberal policies (like progressive taxation, environmental protection, affordable and universal health care, reproductive rights, etc.).
George W. Bush, by contrast, ran two campaigns in which he did everything he could to obscure his real agenda, and thus he had no mandate to enact it. Which is why in his second term, when people noticed his policies other than bombing the shit out of brown people (and noticed that that wasn't really working out in any case), everyone started hating him. They hadn't actually voted for gutting social security, using the full force of the government to keep a brain-dead woman alive despite the wishes of her family, and doing nothing about hurricanes. Or endless war, either. At least, they didn't think they had.
And that's what's different about Obama. He made the case last night that you should vote for him because his policies are the ones you believe in, while John McCain will just continue the ones you hate.
As Kevin Drum put it, if this works, "he'll not only win, he'll win with a public behind him that's actively sold on a genuinely liberal agenda. This is why conservatives have so far been apoplectic about his speech tonight: if he continues down this road, and wins, they know that he'll leave movement conservatism in tatters. He is, at least potentially, the most dangerous politician they've ever faced."
I believe. You can watch it for yourself.