Leading article: The fun's over

He said he came to unite, rather than divide. And in his victory speech in Chicago yesterday, Barack Obama was as good as his word. For those who wanted serious and uplifting rhetoric, they got it. For those who wanted cutesy invocations of children cuddling puppies in the White House, well, they got what they wanted too. Everyone went away satisfied.

It was a fitting final note, because the 2008 presidential election has delivered some first-rate entertainment. And not just in America. The spectacle of our own politicians jostling to attach themselves to the victorious Mr Obama yesterday was reminiscent of bridesmaids scrambling to catch a flying bouquet at the end of a wedding (and about as dignified).

All US elections have their thrills, gaffes and unlikely heroes. But this one has been especially blessed. It has been a two-year-long tale involving a fluctuating cast of obnoxious preachers, pant-suited Clintons, hockey moms, pitbulls wearing lipstick, uncannily good impressionists and plumbers called Joe.

Our lives will certainly feel a little emptier without the excitement of wondering who would win the race to the White House.

So can we find other dramas to occupy us? It will be a struggle, but let us borrow a little of the optimism of Mr Obama's supporters and confidently declare that "yes we can".