It is natural for us to take a keen interest in the US elections. Only the Americans get to vote every four years for their president. When they do, however, they are also choosing the leader of the western world and the commander of the American bulwark against global terrorism and the threat of totalitarian regimes.
So, to that extent, he is ours as well as theirs. American military power is immense, the greatest in the world. It probably always will be.
Were I, as an Australian, entitled to a vote, I would probably have cast it for Mitt Romney but with reservations because of the way in which, during the campaigning, he abandoned social welfare principles. He knows how to run things - companies, and a state.
But I would have been tempted, quite strongly, to have voted to give Barack Obama a second term. He has done well enough as the leader of the western world. After all, he sent in the team that killed Osama Bin Laden. To have tossed him out after one term would have been a harsh judgement on America's first black president, something he does not deserve and which surely would have engendered bitterness among the more than 90 per cent of American blacks who voted for him.
Yet he worries people. Stock markets lost ground when the result was known. Can responsibility for keeping nuclear weapons from the Muslim world be left any longer to Israel, which is a tiny democracy? Israeli aircraft knocked out nuclear plants in Egypt, in Iraq and in Syria but to take on Iran, which is big with a belligerent government and with its nuclear facilities buried in bunkers, is a greater challenge.
If Iran is allowed to develop a nuclear arsenal, an arms race in the Middle East would become certain, starting with Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Now that the elections are over, the way is open for American leadership.
I am not at all sure that these considerations weighed all that much with the American electorate. The reports from America are that Obama put together a coalition of minorities. Apart from American blacks, he won 70 per cent of the Hispanic vote and polled well among young women. He raised a lot of money and he ran effective television ads.
Sound familiar? Television advertising using trade union money and a coalition of minorities. Isn't that how the ALP won in Australia last time? It certainly is. Presumably the Republicans and the Liberal-National coalition will be better prepared next time.
*Charles and Camilla have been and gone. They could not have enjoyed their lack-lustre itinerary, but they advanced the cause. Everybody liked Camilla.