This historic day
There is something more to today than the inauguration of the first mixed-race President of the United States.
When Barack Hussein Obama is sworn in at 5pm (GMT) tonight, he’ll assume responsibility for the greatest country in the world.
Its economic, military, social and cultural impact is immense. And its reputation is in need of salvation.
President Obama has been hailed as the Saviour of the America many want the country to become. Yet that task is so great, imbuing responsibility for it in one man has never been as risky.
Two wars, a failing economy, a crumbling infrastructure, a woeful health system and an underperforming education system. These are each difficult crises, just one of which can sink a President.
President Obama does appear to have a once-in-a-generation chance to solve some of these.
But to solve them all – and to simultaneously repair the country’s image, particularly in Latin America and the Middle East – will require a miracle even greater than President Obama’s election.
He begins his term of office with majorities in the House and Senate. With millions of supporters ready to jump in front of traffic for him. And with the goodwill of most of the Western world.
All of these things make it more likely he will let some of us down.
But there will be achievements to savour during the 44th Presidency, and we should appreciate each of them, even if President Obama fails us at times. He is, after all, only human.
It’s been a while.
But today, at last, we’re jealous of America, hoping that the stardust will fall beyond the country’s borders.