So, at last: Obama it is then. I quite welcome this, not because he is (half) "black", which should be irrelevant, but because he seems to have found a way of enthusing people for the idea of changing American society in a fresh and (on the whole) at least vaguely progressive direction.
Hillary Clinton might have turned out OK, though I personally find her annoying and slippery. One way or the other, it has nothing to do with her being a woman, which should be irrelevant. The Clinton brand is too damaged by lying and sleaze and cynical "triangulation" for many of us to feel comfortable with.
If I seem a bit lukewarm about Obama, compared with many observers on this side of the Atlantic who have got very excited about him, it's because (a) he still has to beat McCain yet, which is by no means in the bag, and (b) even if he wins, disappointment is inevitable.
Why is disappointment inevitable?
(1) The USA under any President is always going to be essentially selfish, arrogant, bombastic and imperialistic, as it always has been. Its foreign policy is usually cloaked in altruistic-sounding guff about democracy, world peace, human rights, etc., but in reality it is always, always, about ruthlessly doing whatever it takes to advance America's narrow economic interests -- and particularly those of its big-business lobbyists -- whatever the cost to anyone else. If Obama attempts to change any of this in the smallest degree he will, I have no doubt at all, be assassinated at the earliest opportunity by agents of the military-industrial nexus.
(2) No President, I suspect, is ever going to be able get out from under the thumb of the rabid Zionist lobby when it comes to policy in the Middle East. Already, one reads, Obama has been trying to butter them up with reassurances that he would not do anything significantly different about Israel/Palestine. So it's hard to see how there can be much progress in that part of the world, on which the future outline of geopolitics, and maybe world peace itself, so much depends.
(3) The President isn't as all-powerful as we outside the USA tend to think. Much is decentralised to the individual States. Much has to be agreed by Congress, which is often hostile, especially when controlled by the other party, as it could easily again be. Much can depend on the Supreme Court, which will remain under far-right control whoever is President. And then, as noted, there are the all-powerful corporate lobbyists. They are bound to make very difficult any progress on, especially, environmental and energy policy.
All this is not to say that I shall not be rooting for Obama to beat McCain. Of course I shall. It's just that I have been around too long to allow myself to hope for too much progress out of one election result.
The next question now is, who will he choose as running-mate? For what it's worth, I plump for John Edwards again. He was my first choice for candidate until he got knocked out of the race. I think he is a very attractive candidate in many ways, and he might be able to garner support in some of the areas where Obama struggles.
UPDATE (Feb 2010): Whoops! Well, you can't win 'em all.