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Last: Obama Triumphant

9:42 AM, Jan 4, 2008 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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Portsmouth, N.H.
It's 5 degrees outside, the intersections near the Pan-Am hangar where Obama's first event is this morning are plastered with placards urging us to "Stop Global Warming," and I'm parked next to two Priuses. Welcome to Obama Nation.

A lot's being said about Obama's youth bulge in Iowa last night. He took 57 percent of the under-30 vote while Hillary Clinton took just about 50 percent of the over-65 vote. (Including, one assumes, a monster margin in the 100-and-over vote.)

This morning's rally looks like more of the same. About 150 people with a median age somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 lined up outside the hangar before 8:00 a.m. to see His Hopeness. Even the pre-rally music is younger and cooler than it is at Clinton events--featuring a heavy dose of Feist, the Canadian singer made famous by Apple's painfully hip iPod commercials.

By 9:30, there are about 500 people packed into a small-fenced in area inside the (unheated) hangar and the crowd is fairly energetic, chanting "What do we want? CHANGE! When do we want it? NOW!"

Obama opens with a joke at Hillary's expense, saying, "This feels good. It's just like I imagined it when I talked about it with my kindergarten teacher." But after that, his remarks ramble a bit, nothing like the soaring victory speech he gave last night. In his laundry list of changes, he says that he'll end our dependence on oil and solve climate change and get our troops out of Iraq and stop using the "fear" of 9/11 and terrorism to scare citizens. These four tropes tumble out of his mouth one after another, with no further explanation, to enthusiastic applause.

But the bulk of his speech, as usual, centers around a defense of "hope." He trots out the same progression he used last night of how hope spurred on the Founding Fathers, the Union forces, the Greatest Generation, the suffragettes, and the civil rights movement. But he doesn't have command of his fastball this morning and the speech feels a bit rote. And when the "hope" speech is flat, it's immediately obvious how empty it is of any seriousness.

"We will remake America and then we will change the world!" he shouts during his big finish. That's an ambitious goal, and one which most Democrats normally seem quite opposed to. After all, what is the Bush Doctrine if not a commitment to changing the world?

But for His Hopeness, none of that matters. At least not today.