By now it should be clear that the only new idea Obama introduced into American politics was the idea of Obama: Obama the voice of a new generation, Obama the brilliant technocrat, Obama the postracial leader.
The reality of Obama has been quite the opposite. The fresh-faced young leader has governed according to stale old ideas. The dazzling intellect has proved inadequate to basic managerial challenges. We haven't even been able to enjoy the achievement of having elected a black president, because so many of Obama's supporters (though not Obama himself, to his credit) won't shut up about how every criticism of the president and his policies is "racist."
Yet in America's current predicament, there is ample reason for optimism. We'd like to think that the failure of Obama's policies will discredit the bad economic ideas on which they're based, that his incompetence will discredit the notion that the cognitive elite should run the lives of everyone else, and that the phony charges of racism will discredit the long-outdated assumption of white guilt, at last bringing America closet to the ideal of a colorblind society.
This is not to deny that the Obama presidency has been ruinous. But sometimes the costliest mistakes are those from which we learn the most.