His failures have taken the hammer to several quaint 20th-century assumptions. The public no longer believes politicians understand how economies work, or that government has practical solutions to ordinary people's problems.
And who can defer to the authority of the only $4 trillion corporation in world history that cannot even set up a working website for buying insurance, let alone protect the private information of the millions of people it employs or investigates?
When he entered the Oval Office eight years ago, Obama wanted to persuade people that Washington was a potent force for good, that citizens could turn to it and it would fix things for them.
Such trust is now further away than ever, despite Obama's domestic legacy — the vast expansion of government. Perhaps Washington's huge intrusions into everyone's lives (right down to the bathrooms they use) would be more accepted if trust had not evaporated.
Obama's answer to the financial crisis was a costly, ineffective stimulus that failed to create jobs, high-speed trains or a new era of green energy, as promised. It instead delivered a citizenry vastly more dependent on food stamps.
Obama's healthcare reform was supposed to fix a broken system. Instead, it put one-fifth of the economy under the federal thumb and displaced millions from coverage they wanted to keep. And like a house built incompetently, Obamacare is falling apart. Even the largest insurers are exiting, finding they cannot sustain their losses. The roof looks likely to fall in.
Obama's arrogation of executive power became especially acute once Republicans re-took Congress. The president, lacking tame majorities, decided to force through his agenda by bypassing Capitol Hill.
He's used regulation to erode religious and press freedoms, and even scolded the Supreme Court for its robust view of free political speech. And in his determination to undermine the Second Amendment, Obama also weakened the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, proposing a no-fly list to side-step due process and deprive citizens of their right to bear arms.