I came late to the Obama parade; while I was absolutely certain I wasn't going to vote Republican, given the outhouse they'd pushed the country into over the last 8 presidential years and 12-14 congressional years, I wasn't thrilled with any of the candidates, and preferred the ones I knew had no shot at all (Kucinich, Richardson).
Obama interested me because of his wide base of support, the fact that while he was raising roughly the same amount of money Hillary was, he was doing it with twice the number of people, each giving half as much. While that proves nothing, it meant his campaign had more longevity (he could tap those donors later), and that it was likely a broader base of less-wealthy people.
His rhetoric doesn't stir, but it does impress me with its solemnity. It's time we had a serious leader. Clinton, infinitely more able and more amiable than W. Bush, was a serious politician and managed the country well, but he lacked the gravitas of Obama. Bush was a ramshackle excuse for either manager or leader, and not the kind of guy I'd want to have a beer with. (See The Onion's Long-Awaited Beer With Bush Really Awkward, Voter Reports for hilarious commentary.)
I don't care whether my president is someone I can have a beer with. I don't care whether my surgeon is a down-to-earth guy. I want expertise. Perhaps I'd need to relate personally to a psychotherapist, but for people with whom I share a professional relationship, I want ability. Being able to lead the nation, and the Congress, and the world; I don't need someone who's necessarily a warm, friendly, or "down-to-earth" guy or gal. At the very least, even if amiability is a necessary condition, it's not a sufficient one; Bush had little else.
So I'm happy - and the happiness hasn't waned. As time goes on, I find myself occasionally smiling, occasionally vaguely misty-eyed. I hope Obama does very well, for all our sakes. He may disappoint, if only because of the inflated level of expectation - but I have to admit finding it difficult to keep my hopes reasonable.
His inaccurate labels, "most liberal senator" and "socialist," were resoundingly rejected by voters. At the very least, this reflects appreciate for his other attributes: intelligence, calm persistence, charisma, and political savvy. But it may also signal an acknowledgment that left of center ain't such a bad place to be.