What a difference a fortnight makes.
Last night, Barack Obama delivered his much-anticipated acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention in Denver. It was a speech laden with perspective: 45 years to the day after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech on the Mall in Washington; 4 years after Obama's own electrifying nominating speech at the DNC that took him from complete obscurity as an Illinois State Legislator to his party's nominee; but perhaps the most immediate perspective, a fortnight after his appearance in a virtual debate with John McCain at Saddleback Church.
At Saddleback, as I wrote at the time, Obama's answers rambled into long erudite analyses and complex discussions of nuances. His rambles were exacerbated by a proliferation of "Ums," "Ahs," and "Y'knows," that made his answers seem even longer. McCain, on the other hand, true to his "Straight Talk Express" slogan, made his responses prompt and succinct.
On the morning of the Saddleback debate, the RealClearPolitics aggregation of 8 different polls had Obama ahead by 3.2 points. One week after the event, his lead had dropped to a virtual dead heat of 1.4 points.
Last night at Invesco Stadium, in front of 80,000 spectators and 30 million television viewers, in a milieu like that of the 2004 DNC, Obama returned to his oratorical form. As this morning's New York Times headline summarizes it, "Obama Takes Aim at Bush and McCain With a Forceful Call to Change America." That forcefulness was characterized by specificity and succinctness. Gone were the nuances, and gone were the "Ums."
This morning, his lead in the RCP average bounced back up to 3.5.