It's Obama instead of Ol' Bomber. What a relief!

At last, after all these dark and terrible years, we might have a man in the White House who doesn't stoke our fears and look about for enemies to taunt.

The one advantage of that endless election campaign was that it gave us time to see that Obama is obviously sane. How refreshing!

He doesn't immediately brand as an "enemy" any country that disagrees with us. Everything isn't U.S. versus T.H.E.M. He doesn't feed the national paranoia that those Bush Crazies whipped up out of 9/11. He doesn't wave weapons and middle fingers when he's speaking of foreign policy.

As someone wisely noted: when things get hot, you want a cool leader. Obama is warmhearted but coolheaded. That's what we desperately need. If you don't believe that's what we need, look at the last seven years:

"As someone wisely noted: when things get hot, you want a cool leader."

A gang of politico-religious fanatics (not a government) committed a lethal crime -- hijacking airliners and crashing them into buildings in New York and Washington. The hotheaded response from the Bush White House was to snooker America into waging war against two of the feeblest countries over in the Mideast, an area of coveted oilfields and pipeline routes. The world Trade Center and Pentagon tragedies gave them the excuse to go and do what they'd been planning to do: seize control in that key oil-flow region.

The Bush/Cheney administration stirred up rage toward those two weak countries and attacked them, starting two unwinnable wars, which, by hook, crook and propaganda, they've kept going ever since. Those wars have created ever more anti-American fanatics and inspired them to go fight the American invaders.

The genius of the 9/11 plotters was in provoking the hotheaded fools in the Bush White House. They won as soon as Bush/Cheney took the bait, aided by a frantic Congress.

"The genius of the 9/11 plotters was in provoking the hotheaded fools in the Bush White House."

John McCain, born, bred and raised with a military fire in his belly, went totally rah-rah for the war madness.

Despite having charged blindly into that trap, he ran his presidential campaign claiming to have good judgment for protecting America against her enemies. Like the White House hotheads, he started naming enemy countries that he was ready to hit. The trouble with all those hotheads is in their definition of enemy.

An "enemy" isn't just somebody you don't like.

Under the Bush administration, America gave the middle finger to a few countries we didn't like and to many of our allies as well. If they didn't smile, but frowned at that rude gesture, we started calling them enemies, telling lies against them, threatening them and refusing to discuss anything with them. Pretty soon we had driven away most of our allies. Those who used to admire us now fear and distrust us.

McCain went along with the White House with all that menacing and bird-flipping. He started most sentences in his campaign speeches with the word "fight," and his eyes were wild with anger. The last thing America or the world needed after Afghanistan, Iraq, Abu Ghraib, Haditha, Guantanamo, and so on, was more such bellicosity.

"Barack Obama doesn't show the world a rigid middle digit. He shows an open palm."

Barack Obama doesn't show the world a rigid middle digit. He shows an open palm. The world is happy to see that. And the world remembers that he wasn't one of those who wanted to attack Iraq. He knew better. Bush, Cheney, McCain and most of the Congress didn't know better.

Obama's aim to end those stupid, futile wars makes sense to the rest of the world, too. Just by getting elected, he's probably started healing America's reputation.

That doesn't mean Obama is weak on defending America. He's far stronger in character and much, much smarter than Bush. He knows that the more allies you have, the stronger you are. He will bring back allies, talk sense and decency to the world, and help America shed its fearfulness.

That's how a sane man does things. He may not have much experience yet, but he's sane. He will sheathe the middle finger.

James Alexander Thom can be reached through .