In my last post, I wrote that Obama needed to do a few things in Denver:
1) He must go way beyond the abstract and rhetoric and bring himself firmly back down to earth, by talking not only about hope and change but specifically addressing key concerns -- the economy, rising gas prices, foreclosures, the job market -- and putting his policies right out in front. This speech must be particularly substantive.
2) He must set out, in no uncertain terms, why he is better than McCain. McCain is still seen by most voters as the more experienced candidate, particularly when it comes to issues such as national security and that has to change.
3) He must be strong and harsh in his criticism of the Republicans. So far, Obama has been very kind towards the Republicans, but he must show them tonight that they can't mess with him.
Obama ticked those boxes in his speech. He came out strong and fighting. He went no holds barred on McCain using sarcasm and outright criticism whilst specifically and directly addressing voters' issues and concerns, outlining policies and sharing his plans for their implementation. I was particularly struck by how he addressed the issue of patriotism, saying, very poignantly, that
The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America - they have served the United States of America.
Whether or not you believe that Obama can provide tax cuts for 95% of families, or that "in ten years, [America] will finally end [its] dependence on oil from the Middle East" is up to you. But I don't think that anyone can fairly say after that Obama didn't deliver and come across as a serious contender on this speech. It was impressive, substantive, hard hitting and practical speech whilst still managing to deliver his change ideology and inspire hope for a new direction.
The Obama I saw tonight is the Obama I want to see from now until November 4th - direct, down to earth, massively compelling and policy focussed. If he stays that way I think the Republicans will find it harder to attack him.
It remains to be seen whether or not the speech change the minds of those who were not sure about him. Those who are determined not to like him will probably dislike him regardless of what he says or does.
I'm definitely convinced more than ever that he can do the job... It's just a shame that I can't vote!