Last night Substance stayed up in front of the telly with help from all the cider, burgers, coffee and coke (a-Cola, yeah) you could possibly need. After a tense couple of hours kicked off by Mitt Romney taking Indiana and Kentucky first off. College by college and state by state, the night started unravelling fairly quickly and by 4.30am-ish, Barack Obama had claimed back the presidency.

Cue cheers, smiles and relieved sighs. But there was something troubling about the whole thing. There are few things more pleasant than wiping the crooked smile off the face of the Republican party, imagining the dejected, bitter faces of the Romney camp and – somewhere in the bowels of America – Sarah Palin, Bill O’Reilly, the Bush family, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump, Rupert Murdoch and all them Tea Party loons sat round televisions, in bars or in household election parties gone properly sour. “Four more years of that bastard. Four more years.” The Republicans gave it all they could, and they failed. And that makes me happy.
 
But once the bunting’s down, the memes stop coming and Twitter’s calmed down, do we have all that much to smile about?
 
Obviously Obama was the preferable candidate. He has experience, international flair and popularity (ahem drones) and charisma. Romney wanted to outlaw abortion (even in cases of rape and incest), arresting those lucky enough to fly abroad for murder; he wanted to pursue a demonstrably flawed economic ideology while increasing federal defence spending by $2 trillion; and after his little forays into Europe and the Middle East – pissing off everyone from the Brits, Russians, Iranians and the Palestinians – there’s no doubt what kind of President Romney would be abroad. A shit one.
 
But Obama’s no angel and if there’s one really positive upshot from this election, it’s that we should stop passing off the President as some hip, good all-round progressive who likes Etta James and shooting hoop. It’s the circa-2008 PR coup that means liberals sort of forget the fact Obama’s responsible for 3,000 deaths (most of them civilians) in the Middle East from heaven-sent Predator missiles because he made a good joke at the White House press conference the week before.
 
With the “fiscal cliff” edge looming – the barely mentioned US austerity package which could take their comparatively positive jobs and growth figures on a par with the European crisis – Obama has his work cut out. Let’s just not be under any illusions about him.
 

Tom Rollins

Photo credit: mediajorgenyc
 

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