If I were a US citizen, I would have voted for Obama - even though I believe John McCain would have made a better President. I would also have voted Obama if his opponent had been George Bush. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the sheer wonder of the United States electing a black President, and what this tells the world about the American people is just so 'awesome' (as many of them might say) as to be irresistible. And secondly, the election of Obama will create a much more positive attitude towards the US from outside her borders.
But the aspect of this handover of power that really grates is the arrogant dismissal of the achievements of George Bush. Oh how we laugh at his verbal gaffes. Most people's favourite is "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking of new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we". This is nothing new. The British 'intelligentsia' also laughed at Ronald Reagan - dismissed him as a B movie actor. And they positively howled with derision at the lack of political hinterland carried by Sarah Palin. Personally, I care not how academically 'clever' a leader is. What matters is the ability to employ the right advice, and good judgement about when to take it. That's why Reagan was such a brilliant President.
Let's look at Bush's record. The attack on the US on September 11th 2001 was the defining event of his Presidency. Most of us would have expected another attack of some sort during the last eight years, but it hasn't happened. I believe that history will record this as a great achievement. Irrespective of opinion about the wisdom of invading Iraq, and post invasion failures, the current reality is that a brutal dictator, who murdered his own people and others in huge numbers has been eliminated and Iraq seems to be heading towards becoming a modern democracy. And all that mockery about knowing and caring so little about the world outside of the US. Even his political enemies concede that he has done more to tackle African poverty than any previous President. All I'm saying is that there's an upside to George W Bush as well. So we should spit into the eye of Britain's Foreign Secretary, David Miliband as he rubbishes George Bush during his last few days in office - waiting until he was certain that he wouldn't have to meet him again.
So its over to Barak Obama. In my opinion he's given himself too much to live up to by presenting himself as the new Abraham Lincoln. This is what he is supposed to have said when he won the Democratic nomination "I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs for the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last best hope on earth". Even Blair at his most hubristic would have hesitated before going so far. But never has a President taken office with greater goodwill and a desire that he should be successful. I bought one of those yellow 'Yes we can' T-shirts in an an auction, and I intend to wear on Tuesday.