The sage marketing wisdom is: “Under-promise and over-deliver.” That was hardly an option for Obama, who promised, quite literally (literally, Mr. Vice President!), a sea change. When you are billing yourself as the fulfillment of Hegelian capital-H history, as not only a redeemer of nations but a healer of planets, it gets a little awkward when you have to spend most of your administration explaining why the economy still kind of sucks and the secretary of state feels the need to lie about everything from the murder of diplomatic personnel to the fact that she’s storing state secrets in the crapper. If you had bought shares in Obama As Advertised and then had to sell them at the price of Obama In Fact, you’d know what it felt like to be running a mortgage-derivative fund back in 2008.
If you’re the Right, then you can enjoy the pessimist’s pleasure: Sure, things have gone terribly, terribly wrong – exactly as we expected! If you’re the Left, Obama’s not looking too great, either: The guy fought an illegal and counterproductive war in the Middle East (“to the shores of Tripoli!”), didn’t close Gitmo, didn’t end “Too Big to Fail,” and just reinvaded Iraq. Ask the victims of Boko Haram if this is the moment the planet started to heal.
“It’s because I’m black, isn’t it?”
No, Mr. President. It’s a couple of other things. The first of which is that here it is on the very verge of 2016, President Obama’s last full year in office, and he has not figured out that there is more to the job than giving speeches. The other thing is: To the extent that he does try to do the rest of the job, he isn’t very good at it. Building a better future? Team Obama can’t build a website. President Squarespace probably would have been an improvement in some respects.