It was obvious Barack Obama didn’t relish the job, but he agreed to take it on anyway. The former two-term president felt compelled, he said, because the 2020 election is like none other — the very concept of American democracy itself is on the line.

In taking the fight Wednesday night to his successor, Obama performed a role reversal of sorts. Typically, it’s the political party’s vice presidential nominee who savages the opposition candidate. The  woman of the hour, Kamala Harris, did get some digs in against President Trump, but she spent most of her time on the podium in the empty Wilmington, Del., convention hall drawing attention to her remarkable personal journey and the history she made last night in becoming the first woman of color to join the presidential ticket of a major U.S. political party. While Obama may have delivered the convention night’s strongest moments, the lineup itself, and Harris’ role as closer, clinched her status as the Democratic Party’s new heir apparent — in essence, its future.

As she and her husband, Doug Emhoff, stood with Joe and Jill Biden on the stage afterwards, Harris’ sharp jabs at Biden over racial issues during the primary were forgiven — and even viewed as a strength, because it indicates a willingness to go for the jugular of the GOP ticket of Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

Just last week, Harris embraced the traditional veep attack-dog role and came out swinging after Biden officially announced her as his choice. She’ll have plenty of opportunities to keep doing so. Trump was closely following the convention night speeches Wednesday, dashing off a series of all-caps broadsides during his predecessor’s address.

One day after Democrats officially nominated Biden, a 77-year-old fixture of official Washington, the spotlight was supposed to shift to Harris, the child of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, who reflects the shifting demographics of the country and her party’s continued leftward march. But as Democrats built their case for ousting Trump on the third night of their virtual convention, it was Obama who put aside his usual cool confidence to skewer Trump and all but steal the show.