Smarter and tougher.
He was both.
He vanquished the field of Democratic contenders--Clintons included--by taking the hits, responding and making few mistakes.
When the heat burned hottest, he kept the cool.
When advised to bite back harder at his opponents he held to his temperate instincts. When the pundits suggested he made a fatal mistake not picking Hillary he refused the bait.
He clung to higher ground when opponents called him a lightweight, a celebrity, a Socialist, a Marxist, a guy who palled around with terrorists.
"It's not just enough to change the players," he'd say on the trail, shaking his head. "We've got to change the game."
The Philadelphia moment was the most powerful.
It came as he addressed race in a speech at the Constitution Center.
"I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas," he said. "I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton's Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas."
We'd never heard talk like this.
"I've gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world's poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slave owners--an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters.
"I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on earth is my story even possible."
Now that we'll have a president of intellect and compassion, the question is this: Will the air continue to blow soft when the cheering stops?
Will the rhetorical carpet-bombing we've waged against each other for far too long come to an end?
Can the power of a Barack Obama triumph turn us noble and selfless?
Smooth our rough edges?
"A nation does not have to be cruel," Franklin Roosevelt said, "in order to be tough."