The Arabs are angry that Barack Obama is silent on the Israeli attack in Gaza. Ought they to be surprised? Not really.

Several months ago, this writer asked a perceptive East Asian diplomat what he thought of Obama. For one, the diplomat was not impressed with Obama. He was still fighting Hillary Clinton then. And second, he said, from his photographs Obama appeared arrogant. He said Obama gave the impression of "talking down" to people.

Obama's sense of superiority has never been hidden. In the fight with Clinton, he won university towns but she got the support of America's white working class. You could argue validly that Clinton did lose and eventually Obama won the presidential election against John McCain. Fair enough.

But then, you go into the reasons for Obama's victory, and particularly also if any event proximate to the presidential elections didn't decisively influence it against McCain. There you have it. If Obama and McCain were previously level, the September bankruptcies, starting off with the Lehman Brothers crash, really scared voters away from the Republican Party. They didn't want another Herbert Hoover in McCain, and added to the numbers behind Obama.

But the point Obama's die-hard voters missed - those caught in photographs looking up at election results on overhead screens as if awaiting their messiah - is that in fact they have brought in somebody who will be a humdrum president, a family president if you like it said softly, but humdrum nevertheless. The honeymoon with Obama, unless this writer is wrong (and he has been wrong fairly often, be warned), is going to be over sooner than expected.

But that does not mean those who will shortly turn critical of Obama are right, or that being a family president is wrong, or that the Arabs are correct to condemn Obama's silence. Well, what could Obama have said? What was he expected to say? That the Israelis were all wrong, and that Hamas with its unprovoked rocket attacks didn't provoke the Israelis? The Arabs have one way of looking at the world. Much of the world has another way of looking at them, although there is considerable sympathy for the Palestinians even so.

But the issue is larger than what Arabs unrealistically expected of Obama, or what a majority of his voters, and a considerable section of Democrats, continue to expect of him, and that is not about to happen. Barack Obama is not going to be a black JFK, nor will he necessarily become FDR - II. Indeed, as president, he will find himself fairly constrained, having to retrieve America from the financial and strategic blackholes president George W.Bush has miraculously shoved it in.

That would itself be quite a feat. Even if Obama does nothing revolutionary but sets America aright, strategically, image-wise, money-wise, that would be spectacular. It might even win him a second term. What America and the world wants (although the world does not matter for most Americans) is an American president who plays straight, thinks through issues and does not intervene stupidly, has a thorough understanding of the growing limits to US power, has the vision to reform capitalism, and shows capacity and determination to root out international jihad.

If Barack Obama manages even some of this, how would it matter what the colour of his presidency is? There was a lovely phrase spoken four years ago in America, which was "the soft bigotry of low expectations". The expectations from Obama ought to be placed very high on things that matter, and not necessarily on those that warm up the liberal establishment. Incidentally, you won't find such an establishment in the Arab world.