Well, I just about managed to stay awake for most of Obama's speech, but having got up this morning with what I imagine a hangover feels like I'm not sure I'm in the right state of mind to pass judgement on it. Anyway, here goes...
I think he just about avoided the Sheffield moment, although when he started by saying 'Thank you' and 'Thank you so much' repeatedly - I think I counted 70 mentions - while the crowd applauded him at the outset, I did wonder how it was going to turn out.
Obama is almost physically incapable of giving a bad speech. While the rhetoric in this speech did not match the soaring heights of previous speeches, it was always going to be difficult in a stadium environment. I thought he concentrated too much on individual anecdote - "the factory worker in Des Moines" or "the woman I met in Dallas". I can see the logic of doing this - showing empathy with individuals and their personal circumstances - but you can over do it. And he did.
The other thing he 'overdid' was the negative attacks on his opponent. According to ConservativeHome he mentioned John McCain 22 times, 21 of which were negative. Of course you need to attack your opponent in a speech like this, but somehow this attack didn't really hit home. When he said:
John McCain may want to follow Osama bin laden to the gates of hell, but he won't even follow him to the cave in which he lives...
... I scratched my head in bemusement. Was I alone in not having a clue what he meant by that?
Like many people, I was hoping to emerge from Obama's speech with a better idea of what he would actually do as President, rather than what his general approach would be. I admit I fell asleep for the last five minutes (!), but up to that point I had heard little that I hadn't heard before.
Obama doesn't need my vote - I don't have one. But I suspect there are many Americans who have a similar opinion of Obama to me. People who I would describe as 'soft Republicans' - people who were moved by Ronald Reagan's rhetoric and signed on to his optimistic view of life and the world. I wanted to be persuaded by Obama. I have already made clear that for the first time in my life I could consider not supporting a Republican candidate. But over the last few weeks I have slowly but surely been drifting back to the Republican camp having failed to be convinced by Obama.
Of course I recognise the historic moment of an African American getting the nomination. I applaud Obama's political campaigning ability. But for me there is something missing from his appeal. I love his optimism. I love his speaking style. But I have yet to fall in love with his policies. Largely because I still don't have a clue what they are. And he's only got 69 days to tell me.