The BBC’s John Simpson writes a damning review of Obama’s presidency:

But at this point in a two-term presidency, you can tell if it has been successful. And it’s hard to imagine that Barack Obama can possibly be judged a success when he leaves office.

Simpson points out successes in the areas of US economy and health, but failures and resulting disappointment in all other promises. Our legacy of Obama’s foreign policy will be framed by failed withdrawals from Iraq & Afghanistan, and poorly thought out interventions in Libya & Syria.

But it is more than just practical failures:

The old notion Americans had of themselves as a city on a hill whose moral light couldn’t be hidden has been irreparably damaged. And President Obama has done little to improve that.

The failure to close Guantanamo and the continuing use of torture are Simpson’s grounds for this belief, and I would add the questionable procedures around drone usage to this list.

Simpson argues that Obama’s best years may still be ahead of him, pointing to similar trends in the careers of Jimmy Carter & Bill Clinton. And it may very well be that Obama continues to add to the world after his tenure ends, perhaps even more so than as President. But the sadness in this reality is that the feel-good optimism and moral clarity of Obama’s campaign from outside the White House was numbed upon entering it. The soul-crushing lack of soul in the American government is a reminder that moral clarity does not equate to change, because our social systems are resilient to moral clarity. In fact they almost seem to revel in moral and intellectual ambiguity.