Barack Obama’s speech last night was a surprising gamble, writes Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal. Obama was stern, serious—even indignant—and unusually joyless. "The speech itself lacked lift but had heft. It wasn't precisely long on hope, but I think it showed audacity." She notes the lack of the usual Obama charm. "All in all, a muted affair. But not one without power."
"Thematically it was a mixed bag," she writes. "Part Go Get McCain, Make Him Fire Back Intemperately in St. Paul. Part jeremiad on the miseries of the past eight years. Part populist hymn. Part replay of Mr. Obama's strong purple-state rhetoric." It was all designed to reintroduce himself to an America that hasn’t fully absorbed him, she concludes, to say “I’m a surprising person, but I can be president." And it leaves an opening for the GOP, she adds, to lighten things up next week.