President Barack Obama accepted the nomination of his party Thursday on the last night of the Democratic National Convention, wrapping up a three-day political lovefest in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Obama's acceptance speech wasn't one of his best, but it was enough to send Democrats infused with enthusiasm as they head home and hope it spreads there.
Here are five things we learned on Thursday:
1. Obama clears the hurdle
The president of the United States unleashed a corker of a convention speech on Thursday night in Charlotte.
The message was clear: Things are tough, but if we stay on the same path, things will get better. The crowd loved it. It was lyrical. It was poignant. If speechifying were basketball, Barack Obama would be Kobe Bryant and Mitt Romney would be Moochie Norris.
"America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won't promise that now. Yes, our path is harder -- but it leads to a better place," Obama said.
But here is the burden of being Barack Obama: This was his third nationally televised convention speech, and it was unquestionably his most underwhelming.
Obama only has himself to blame. The bar is so high only because his skills as an orator are stunning.
His 2004 keynote address, so moving that it seemed more of a prayer than a political speech, will go down as one of the greatest public addresses in American history. His 2008 convention speech in Denver was almost as inspiring.
Thursday's attempt to transform the prose of governing into the poetry of a campaign had a noticeably different feel. It reaffirmed for Democrats the gravity of what's at stake in this election: a strong economy and better future for a Wall Street plutocracy. His attacks on the Republican ticket's lack of foreign policy experience were particularly cutting. Obama used the term "choice" 10 times.
But the realities of being president make for a more complicated speech than the soaring kind he routinely delivered during the heady days of the 2008 campaign. He acknowledged as much.
"I recognize that times have changed since I first spoke to this convention," Obama explained. "The times have changed -- and so have I. I'm no longer just a candidate. I'm the president."
He mentioned the word "hope" 15 times in his speech, reprising the theme that carried him to the Oval Office in 2008.
But as the writer Andrew Sullivan wrote on his blog Thursday, "This feels like a State of the Union -- not a convention rallying cry."
Obama was forced to temper his inspiring rhetoric about the greatness of the American spirit with references to the policy battles that have consumed his tenure in office. Energy, same-sex marriage, education, taxes, climate change -- all referenced. His health care reform law? Barely touched on. The stimulus went unmentioned.
Expectations were high, and Obama delivered. But instead of knocking it out of the park, he might have just hit a triple.
2. All forgiven for Obama's long evolution to back same-sex marriage
Although Obama had a rough start in laying out his support for same-sex marriage earlier this year, the celebration on the convention floor Thursday marked a full embrace from the LGBT community.
But all seemed forgotten Thursday night when Democrats saved same-sex marriage for the final night, featuring several speakers and testimonies praising the president's newly minted position, as well as the party's decision to fold marriage equality into its platform.
"This has been the most diverse, most inclusive convention ever held -- a convention not just of symbolism, but of substance. For the first time, a major party platform recognizes marriage equality as a basic human right," said convention Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor of Los Angeles.
Zach Wahls, an Iowan, spoke about being raised by his two moms and faulted Republicans and Mitt Romney for what he argued were prejudice and unfair positions on same-sex marriage.
"President Obama understands that. He supports my moms' marriage," Wahls said. "President Obama put his political future on the line to do what was right."
Also featured in the segment -- one that received much fanfare from the crowd -- was a U.S. Army captain who applauded the president's work to help repeal "don't ask, don't tell," saying it was wrong that many of the men and women he served with were turned away because of their sexual orientation.
"Soldiers who I trusted with my life, and fought alongside with, could be discharged because of who they love," Jason Crow said.