Obama got a packed house and huge applause before saying anything about what he would do as president. For a while it was all about the influence of lobbyists in Washington, the tragedy of Katrina, the tragedy of Iraq, the need for a politics of the people, the need for hope and optimism. All opposition to the way things are, and the need for something vaguely better.

All feel good. And a lot of people clearly felt good in the room. A lot of people shouted "all right!" "you said it!"

But what did he say? He talked about what he did in Illinois. He talked about how bad things are. He said he believes in hope. But what would he do if he were president? For a while, Obama gave us no idea, other than hope, which he said is the cause he will work for every single day as president.

Finally, Obama got to some substance. He said he wants to bring together businesses and unions and insurance companies to solve our health care crisis. He promoted his "universal health care plan that covers every American." But his plan does not cover every American, and as long as it includes the insurance companies, how much hope can there be for it?

Then Obama said he would launch a campaign to recruit thousands of new teachers and pay them higher salaries.

On energy, Obama said he would require companies to meet standards or pay others too. (Richardson earlier today said that that makes you a conservationist the same way paying someone to go to church makes you religious.)

Obama said he would index the minimum wage to the cost of living.

He said he would invest in infrastructure.

He said he'd work to give jobs to ex-felons.

He said he would support the right to unionize and the Employee Free Choice Act.

Each point earned loud applause, and the big one was still to come.

Obama said he wants to end the occupation of Iraq, and that he opposed it before it started. (Someone in the room shouted "Don't fund it!". Obama ignored her.) Obama said he wants to start bringing troops home now, not a year from now, not a month from now, but now. His bill, he says, would bring all "combat troops" home by 2008. We are 16 votes away from ending this war in the Senate, he said, advocating pressuring Republicans, ignoring the fact that Democrats have the votes to fillibuster it, and never addressing the question of when he would finish bringing ALL troops home.

Obama said he wants to work with the world on climate change and AIDS and WMDs and global poverty. He wants to close Guantanamo and restore the right to Habeas Corpus. He wants no detentions without charge or torture, and no more disasters like what was done to New Orleans after Katrina.

Then Obama told the story of the march across the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama, and the signing by President Johnson of the Voting Rights Act. They marched for me, Obama said.

And he went back into talk of hope, justice, and turning the page. And the applause was thunderous.