There’s been some understandable frustration with Obama on the left. Some of this is justified: we’re in a high-unemployment doldrums where we desperately need some government stimulus, and Obama not only hasn’t fought for that but has signed onto the deficit reduction foolishness. (If you’re worried about the deficit, the single best thing we could do for that is to get the economy rolling.)
I doubt Obama could actually have passed a bigger stimulus. Stimulus plans aren’t popular or even well understood, except for wars against Nazis. But it would have been nice if he would at least advocate for the right thing.
But that brings up the main point: for the most part, Obama hasn’t been able to bring the progressive utopia because he can’t get it past Congress. He only had control over both houses for a year. And then we lost the 2010 elections big time— largely because a huge fraction of the progressives who voted for him stayed home. And since then there are huge limits on what he can do. If you don’t like it, don’t get pissy and give up; go vote against the Tea Party.
Matt Yglesias approaches this question from an interesting viewpoint: comparing Obama’s record with Bush’s. Bush didn’t have the easy ride that some folks paint, and he accomplished very little in his second term. Some of his signature accomplishments, such as NCLB, happened because he found enthusiastic Democratic supporters. That is, Bush wasn’t more persuasive or stronger; the main difference was that he didn’t face a united opposition determined to wreck the economy before cooperating.
The comments section is depressing though, like the dude who can’t think of a reason progressives should stop voting for Democrats. I got one for you, idiot: so the Tea Party doesn’t win.