(CNN) -- If Barack Obama is re-elected on November 6, he will owe more to his first lady than any president ever to win a second term.
On Tuesday night in Charlotte, North Carolina, Michelle Obama gave one of the finest speeches ever delivered at a national political convention. More important, it could have more impact on the immediate future of the country than her husband's celebrated 2004 keynote address to the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Why?
Her speech tied the Obamas' personal stories directly to the lives of millions of voters struggling not to be the first generation of Americans unable to offer hope of greater opportunities to their children than they had, thus drawing a contrast with Mitt Romney as an unnamed but unmistakable caricature of privilege without shading her talk with negativity or animosity.
Rumour has it she wrote most of the speech herself and given how viscerally she responded to the words she was saying, it seems to be true. On the brink of tears herself, Michelle Obama pulled off the rhetorically difficult task of bringing her audience to both tear and their feet.
We fell in love with Barack Obama all over again, thanks to Michelle. This is what a First Lady looks like!
The knock on Obama from the left is that he forgot where he came from, and who elected him. We liberals are fickle in that way, and while we grudgingly would have gone to the polls to re-elect him, now we can feel good about it.
And we have good reason to be frustrated with him. We've seen over the past four years a concerted effort to dismantle and destroy Hope and Change by the party out of power, and now out of favor, and a President determined, pig-headedly, to compromise and work with them.
This was the audacity we wanted? The change we wanted to be? Barack Obama tried to be Bill Clinton, when in point of fact, he needed to be Harry Truman. Clinton was a master at co-opting his opposition, and yes, Obama nearly pulled off that debt ceiling deal with Weaker Boener until it turned out Weaker Boener couldn't deliver a pizza, much less his party's votes.
Sure, Obama ran on the platform of trying to change the toxicity of government, but when it was revealed that the opponent was going to be openly hostile and a party of no to anything he proposed, he should have counterpunched: start closing military bases, start withholding highway funds, find executive orders that punished those who got out of line, and rewarded those who were willing to put in an effort.
For instance, take Michele Bachmann. The instant she won re-election in 2010, Obama could have yanked all Federal funds out of her district, discretely asking for all agencies to "review" the projects and programs. This is how you bring people to the table who want to be petulant children.
Perhaps Sasha and Malia are that well-behaved that Obama doesn't have to resort to tactics like this, but I'm betting Joe Biden could tell him all about it.
Last night, Michelle Obama reminded us that the President and First Family are like you and me: they struggled, they had hard times, and they couldn't ask Daddy for a loan to open a business (great line, by the way, from Julian Castro: "Gee! Why didn't I think of that? Some people are lucky enough to borrow money from their parents, but that shouldn't determine whether you can pursue your dreams.")
Ann Romney was tasked with humanizing a figure who has been rightly characterized as automatonic, robotic, and pre-programmed...with last decade's software.
Michelle Obama merely had to add grace notes to the figure of a man who was sculpted in an image long forgotten by the nation. And she did a bang up job.