"For most of this campaign season, I doubted that Obama really was that new something. Now I'm not so sure he isn't. Whoever Barack Obama is, there's no doubting the genuineness of his phenomenon. And maybe, who knows, that's all that matters...

An important component of this phenomenon is that the Obama crowds are surprisingly free of the usual anti-Republican venom. As much as anything, his rise is a reflection of the country's increasing boredom with partisan hatred.

"I'm so tired of the president just talking to one part of the country, or one group," says Malia Scotch-Marmo. "I was in my twenties with Reagan, but I felt he talked to me, even though we were all Democrats. It would be great to have a black president. It would be great for kids to see. It would be a nice mind shift," - Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone.

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