My opinion of Barack Obama did not go up when he backed away from Hillary Clinton's challenge to have another debate with her. His argument that they had already debated 21 times and he wanted to talk to the voters seemed specious: a televised debate would attract a much bigger audience than a campaign rally. More likely he doesn't want a repeat of their last debate, before the Pennsylvania primary, which he lost big-time.
But while Hillary is the better debater, Obama is eloquent. It's just that he is at his best when he is sharing the stage with no one else — in Wordsworth's words:
Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky.
This is no backhanded compliment, or I would not have quoted from one of Wordsworth's touching Lucy poems.
The fact is Obama moves and inspires not when he is taking questions from others but when he is speaking directly to the people.
He is just as eloquent as a writer.
I was just reading the 2004 preface of Dreams from My Father. It's so good I can't even decide which passage to quote.
But these past 15 months of campaigning have taken their toll. And, in David Brooks' memorable words, "Obama fell to earth".
I prefer Hillary when it comes to politics because she is more experienced and more resilient.
But Obama almost revolutionised politics by attracting the young and the liberals with speeches and slogans that prompted one BBC commentator to ask whether it was "clever marketing" or "transformational politics".
Whatever it is, it takes a certain genius, which Obama has.
He has so many qualities.
And yet I admire Hillary.