Jesse Lava sort of sums up my feelings, exactly:
As one of those pro-Obama progressives, I figured he would vacillate between his two personas -- pursuing conciliation on some issues so he could go big on others. Maybe he'd fail to prosecute Bush's torture regime but then take on Wall Street with gusto. Perhaps he'd neglect climate change but insist on a robust public option in the health care bill. Maybe he'd undertake a massive escalation in Afghanistan but only after restoring the rule of law to our national security apparatus. No president can take on the whole world, and progressives did not expect Obama to be Dennis Kucinich.
Progressives did, however, expect Obama to push strategic, selective transformation. Obama was supposed to seize the moment of our greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression and pursue reforms that would lay the economic foundation for the next generation. He was supposed to try -- try, at least -- to change Washington.
But that is not what he did. If progressives had known that he would immediately hire Larry Summers, Tim Geithner and other insiders who had helped push the country off the financial cliff; that he would give a pass both to Bush-era torturers and to Wall Street fraudsters; that his "Keynesian" stimulus would fall far short of what Keynesian economists said was needed; that he'd not only escalate far more than he pledged in Afghanistan but also get us ensnared in Libya and Yemen without the congressional approval required by law; that his civil liberties record would lead ACLU president Anthony Romero to be "disgusted with this president"; that the U.S. would be even more hated in the Middle East than it was under Bush; that Obama's biggest progressive win would be a health care bill that lacked a public option (honoring a backroom deal he made with the insurance industry) and was eerily similar to what the conservative Heritage Foundation proposed two decades ago; that he would make virtually no effort at all on climate change and immigration; that he'd propose (propose!) cutting Social Security and sign a debt ceiling deal agreeing to slash spending at levels that Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush could only dream of -- in short, if we'd known that Obama the Conciliator would make it to the White House and Obama the Transformer would be left in Chicago's Grant Park on election night -- many of us would have gambled on someone else. I certainly would have. [read the whole thing, with links here]