Not A Day For Cynicism
There will be a time for cynicism. Tomorrow, probably. But today is a time to savour one of the biggest political events of my lifetime, one that was worth sacrificing a night's sleep for.
Had I not done so, I would have seen only the edited version of Obama's victory speech and missed hearing him say that he represented everyone, "gay or straight." I never thought I would hear those words from a new American President, still less a black President. It was a moving moment that proved, for now at least, that Obama has genuinely inclusive and liberal instincts.
I spent the night zapping between the BBC and CNN.
The BBC coverage was, as decreed by statute, in the increasingly bumbling hands of David Dimbleby. I'm not renowned for my sporting knowledge but even I, unlike Dimbleby, know the difference between baseball and basketball. He thought a basketball game had been played in the Chicago park earlier in the day until a colleague pointed out that basketball is played indoors.
After one guest change in the studio he looked at the new person next to him and gave a little jump. "Oh, hello!" he said, looking startled.
"You've got some new visitors, Mr Dimbleby. They're from Hospital Radio. Tell them your favourite Rodgers and Hammerstein and they'll play it for you."
At one point, he actually forgot which city he was in. After a long struggle to say where he was, the only thing he could manage was 'DC'.
The final blow was dealt to Dimbleby by Gore Vidal who said to him witheringly "I've no idea who you are." Unfortunately, I'm not sure Dimbleby knew either.
The CNN coverage appeared to be coming from a studio the size of a small American state. It was the satire of American election coverage that Chris Morris would have done in The Day Today if you'd given him the entire licence fee income. But it was undeniably impressive, especially when juxtaposed with the BBC's amateurish effort with its frequent technical glitches.
I was particularly intrigued by Dana Bash, reporting from Phoenix, one of those extraordinary blonde avatars with big hair and even bigger teeth. Her face appeared to be moulded from wax. I'm sure if she'd gone near a naked flame she'd have melted.
The main studio anchor was a man called Wolf Blitzer. How wonderful a name is that? Isn't Blitzer one of Santa's reindeer? (At one point, Blitzer actually interviewed Rudolph. Giuliani, that is, the former New York Mayor).
There's a double improbability in that name. Firstly, the existence of a Mr and Mrs Blitzer. Secondly, that the Blitzers decided to name their baby boy 'Wolf'. Maybe they intended to call him 'Wilf' but had bad handwriting.
Back in the BBC's Washington studio, one of the oddest double acts in the history of TV punditry was making its debut: neocon John Bolton and historian Simon Schama. It was like watching a bad-tempered walrus being baited by a badly-designed puppet. There were moments, as Simon Schama jerked and lunged in his chair, when he seemed about to lay his head in Bolton's lap and look up and pull faces at him. Had he done so, you'd have needed the supercool Wolf Blitzer to restore some calm. But then CNN would never have sat a commie, academic Brit next to a rabid Republican neocon.
If it's not a day for cynicism, then neither is it a day for gloating.
Oh, sod it. Just one little gloat as we spare a thought for the evangelicals who had held prayer meetings and confidently told journalists that their god would ensure a McCain victory.
Oh Lord, thank you for forsaking them!