It was a tricky rhetorical path before Barack Obama at the close of the Democratic National Convention Thursday and he walked it artfully. The official Democratic presidential nominee bashed John McCain hard, including rather boldly on McCain's core issue of Iraq, where the Republican opponent feels strong. The tens of thousands of hard-core Democrats at Invesco Field in Denver, all worked up into a frenzy, ate it up. Then there were The Bitters watching on their non-flat-screen TVs at home in swing states, who were reminded that McCain called them all "whiners" (so much worse than "bitter!"), that McCain wants to tax their benefits for healthcare, that Obama supports corporate welfare to teach GM how to make hybrids and that Obama's not going to coddle all these illegal Mexicans "undercutting" their wages. But the heart of the performance came toward the end.

Obama, having attacked McCain forcefully and thus corrected a key failing of his predecessor John Kerry, and having done a little careful pandering, still managed to make a signature call for something big and noble and important and post-partisan, a change of the terms for debate and thus HOPEful. He promised not to chalk McCain's positions up to ulterior political motives (over/under on how soon he regrets this?). Then he threaded the needle with the impressive "something is stirring" section of his speech, in the video below (the highlight of the speech, really).

THEN Obama managed to tie everything in to the anniversary or Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech without making himself sound sappy and exploitive, probably because he never used the routinely co-opted words "I Have A Dream:"

UPDATE: Here's the part where Obama tells a story about his grandmother and then amoothly converts it into an emotionally-powerful slap back at McCain's line that Obama is like a "celebrity."

Will MSNBC anchors still draw massive ratings gains yelling at each other in Obama's post-partisan world, or is everyone so tired of the viciousness (as Obama seems to be betting) that CNN will OWN the Obama years in the event he wins the presidency? Unclear. But it in the meantime it's a refreshing change to watch a speech from a national politician that sounds so darn earnest, nuanced and (once again) just reasonable.