Obama’s warmest defenders have insisted, against the weight of his own words, that such hopes were absurd and unreal — often giving as evidence some such conversation stopper as “this is a center-right country” or “the American people are racist.” But the same American people elected an African American whose campaign had been center-left. He inherited a majority in both houses of Congress. It takes a refined sense of impossibility to argue that Obama in his first two years actually traveled the length of what was possible. . . .
Though Obama has hardly been a leader strong in purpose, his policies have indeed spun against the way they drove. Nobody bent on mere manipulation would so often and compulsively utter a wish for things he could not carry out. Yet Obama has done little to counteract the regression of constitutional democracy that began with the security policies and the wars of Bush and Cheney. This degeneration has been assisted under his negligent watch, sometimes with his connivance, occasionally by exertions of executive power that he has innovated. Much as one would like to admire a leader so good at showing that he means well, and so earnest in projecting the good intentions of his country as the equivalent of his own, it would be a false consolation to pretend that the years of the Obama presidency have not been a large lost chance. "What Went Wrong", Harper's June 2015.
In other words, he's a mostly decent guy who simply was in over his head. He was an outsider who was coopted by the insiders. A hack.