When he won his first election four years ago, he promised to restore America's reputation in the world. But as he starts his second and final term following a strong election victory last night, president Barack Obama resumes service in the White House with a reputation abroad as a hard-nosed leader who killed Osama Bin Laden and who sent drones to pursue extremists in far-flung places.
The latest psychological research suggests the protracted campaign, adversarial debates, plotted strategy, choice of running mates, elaborately groomed wives, and carefully schemed policies, have a lot less to do with the final result, than the politicians or the media pundits, would have you believe.
Living in the UK, I'm more aware of what's happening in politics from Saudi Arabia to Russia, from Japan to France. Perhaps that's why I'm so fretful about what will happen if Mitt Romney is elected today. I see the attitudes espoused by him and Paul Ryan and wonder what the hell happened over there, that this team - with their retro view of America uber alles and scarily dismissive view of women's autonomy - are seen as the kind of people Americans want in charge.