In the Atlantic, an analysis of the Obama administration. Despite its successes, it has failed and really not even attempted, the core premise of the 2008 campaign.
Perhaps Jonathan Chait is correct that it was always unrealistic to expect more ambitious systemic reforms from Obama. If so, it remains the case that many Americans voted for Obama precisely because he promised to attempt them. Take Larry Lessig. "I believed that he had a vision of what was wrong with our government, and a passion and commitment to fix it,"he wrote. "Clinton had a raft of programs she promised to push through Congress. Nowhere on that list was fundamental reform of how Washington worked."
Given why Lessig voted for Obama (despite disagreeing with him on many other matters), it's easy to see why he wound up disillusioned. "When critics like me attacked this retreat, the administration defended itself by claiming the president was never a 'leftist," he wrote. "But the problem with this administration is not that it is too conservative. And certainly not that it is too liberal .... It is too conventional. It has left untouched the corruption that the president identified, which means that it has left as hopeless any real reform for the left."
I feel that this vindicates the realization I came to late in the primary process when I switched from Obama to Clinton, just as many were make the opposite switch. For me Obama's lack of courage and conviction was displayed in the episode around the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. It was clear that the Obama folk would end up playing politics-as-usual and that they were not as good at it as the Clinton folk. And, if we were going to play politicas-as-usual I wanted to support the candidate who would be better at it.