No President Clinton II
Having not bought into Obama hysteria I'm feeling pretty flat now that Hillary has been beaten.
It feels like the end of a political era that started with Bill Clinton's victory in 1992.
For anyone my age on the centre-left everything before that in US and British politics that we had experienced was of a triumphant Reagan/Thatcher right pulverising various hapless Democrat or Labour candidates, often with the active support of a large slice of blue collar workers (the "Reagan Democrats" and their British cousins who had done right-to-buy and bought their first shares).
Bill (and Hillary) Clinton turned up on the horizon just as Labour was deep in depression following our 4th election defeat - in fact only about six months after we had been beaten in the 1992 election, and the centre-left seemed permanently in opposition, suddenly there was Hope (Arkansas) and this relatively young Democrat President.
His victory gave Labourites hope that there was a recipe for the centre-left to win back those lost "Reagan Democrats" and their British equivalents with a modernised, moderate agenda. I remember some of the organisational architects of our 1997 victory like Margaret McDonagh and Alan Barnard coming back brimming with enthusiasm and ideas from their trip to observe the Clinton campaign.
New Labour and Labour's recovery as an electoral force were given massive impetus by the lessons from across the Atlantic and the message that the centre-left was a force that could win, not a relic of history.
The Clintons seemed to have a special affection for the British Labour Party and us for them - Bill Clinton's speech to Labour Party Conference in 2002 was one of the "must remember" moments for any Labour conference-goer.
The Clinton Presidency in retrospect seems like a lost golden age when America was briefly restored to being a force for progress in the world - a brief interlude of hope between the dark clouds of the Cold War before it and the then seemingly second-order terrors of al-Qaeda and global warming after it. Even the scandals seem quaintly trivial and more about Bill the flawed human being than about any real wrong-doing.
But I guess now the chances are we will never see chapter 2 of the Clinton presidencies. A shame.
I hope Obama can win and can be a great President, but I am not holding my breath. The primary system has reverted to its usual character of producing candidates who get the Democratic faithful fired up into a frenzy but leave swing voters in phlegmatic key states quietly unimpressed and voting Republican in the privacy of the polling booth. A bizarre system and a fit of rule-mongering over Florida and Michigan has given victory to the guy who carried a host of tiny states that the Democrats can never win or which have hardly any electoral college votes, and denied it to the woman who carried those two, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, California, Texas and just about everywhere that might have been useful in the general election.
I have an awful suspicion that we are not going to see a lot of "change" in November.
Oh well, there's always Australia - Kevin Rudd seems to be doing pretty well, much as Bob Hawke did back before the long Clinton saga started.