"What the hell is Barack Obama's presidency for? ...His second term has been characterised by a profound sense of drift in principle and policy. While posing as the ally of the immigrant he is deporting people at a faster clip than any of his predecessors; while claiming to be a supporter of labour he's championing trade deals that will undercut American jobs and wages. In December, even as he pursued one whistleblower, Edward Snowden and kept another, Chelsea Manning, incarcerated, he told the crowd at Nelson Mandela's funeral: "There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba's struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people." - Gary Younge, Guardian, 23 February
I admire Gary's sense of betrayed idealism here, but his "what is this presidency for?" question is not difficult to answer.
The secret to grasping the situation is simply to wholly dismiss everything that Barack Obama said he wanted to do during his election campaign as a sales job, as a mere advertising campaign with no more truth content than a Lynx commercial, and to look at what he actually did. That is - to treat Obama as if he were just another politician, rather than a crusader for justice.
So: if Barry O started implementing a series of regressive and punitive measures almost immediately after his election as America's newest Caesar, then it should be fairly obvious that Barry O's presidency is for implementing regressive and punitive measures. This would also suggest that it was always intended to be for implementing regressive and punitive measures.
The fact that folk like Gary Younge once believed that this wasn't the case is touching, but every bit as hilarious as teenagers who drench themselves in deodorant in the belief that girls will suddenly find them irresistable.