I didn't mean to stay up so late to see this speech -- have to get up in a few hours for a hinterland trip -- but I am glad I did.

This was as good a job as anyone could have done in these circumstances, and as impressive and intelligent a speech as I have heard in a very long time. People thought that Mitt Romney's speech would be the counterpart to John Kennedy's famous speech about his faith to the Houston ministers in 1960. No. This was.

A reminder of a non-obvious but crucial principle in speechwriting. Make the language simple, clear, vivid, and comprehensible -- of course. But never, never talk down.

Will this defuse the Rev. Wright issue? Who knows what cable news will make of the speech. But it was a great moment, to which Barack Obama rose.

(Update: while considering just staying up until the hinterland trek, I will correct the preceding sentence. It was a moment that Obama made great through the seriousness, intelligence, eloquence, and courage of what he said. I don't recall another speech about race with as little pandering or posturing or shying from awkward points, and as much honest attempt to explain and connect, as this one.)

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