Essentially, however, Mr Obama won because of his persona – post-racial, healing, cool, articulate and inspirational. In a sense, therefore, his greatest achievement in life is being Barack Obama. Or the campaign version, at least.
Therein lies the problem. While campaigning could centre around soaring rhetoric, governing is altogether messier. It involves tough, unpopular choices and cutting deals with opponents. It requires doing things rather than talking about them, let alone just being.
Mr Obama is showing little appetite for this. Instead of being the commander-in-chief, he is the campaigner-in-chief.
After a disastrous summer that saw his approval rating drop more than any other president at the same stage since Harry Truman in 1953, Mr Obama has temporarily abandoned the campaign-style events promoting his stalled health-care reform initiative.
Now, he is stumping for Democratic candidates in states he won last year but which are now in danger. Last Wednesday in Hackensack, Mr Obama took to the stage to proclaim: "Your voice can change the world. Your voice can elect Jon Corzine, governor once again of New Jersey." Change the world? Mr Corzine is a former Goldman Sachs executive whose political career was launched when he spent $57 million of his own money on a Senate seat in 2000.
The rally was an attempted 2008 reprise. There was the spontaneous (or not) cry of "I love you!" bashfully acknowledged by Mr Obama with a "I love you back."
There were the Obama-led chants of "Fired up! Ready to go!" and the ubiquitous "Yes We Can" signs.
And as he always does, Mr Obama blamed every economic woe on the Bush years, conveniently forgetting that Republicans are no longer in office and it's been his mess for nine months now.
Campaigning and raising cash is what Mr Obama does best. Next week's fundraising events in Florida and Virginia will bring to 24 the number of such functions he had headlined since entering office in January. During his first year in office, Mr Bush attended just six fundraisers.
Just as instructive is Mr Obama's war on the cable channel Fox News.
Everyone knows that Fox leans Right and contains some of the most virulent critics of the president. Most prominent is Fox's weeping, ranting Glenn Beck, who fulminated bizarrely in July that Mr Obama "has a deep-seated hatred for white people".
Rather than ignoring or even repudiating Fox commentators, the White House has instead sought to marginalise Fox News in its entirety. Top Obama aide David Axelrod even lectured that Fox was not a news organisation and the rest of the media "ought not to treat them that way".
This was the same Mr Axelrod who advised Mr Obama in a 2006 campaign memo: "You care far too much what is written and said about you."
Also in the doghouse is the US Chamber of Commerce, which Obama aides have branded as representing "special interests" and a Bush agenda. Never mind that moderate Democratic candidates across the country proudly tout endorsements for the Chamber, which is hardly part of any radical Republican fringe.
All this says much about Mr Obama's priorities at a time when he is sitting on an urgent request for 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, seemingly unsure about whether the counter-insurgency strategy he announced in March is the right one.
Late-night comics, although unabashedly liberal and at a loss last year as to how to poke fun at the rather humourless Mr Obama, are having a field day portraying him as a do-nothing prevaricator obsessed with his own image.
"President Obama agreed to commit an additional 40,000 troops to help fight Fox News," quipped NBC's Jay Leno. "Senior White House adviser David Axelrod told reporters that Fox News is just pushing a point of view. Well, yes, but at least they've got a point of view." Mr Obama was elected on a promise of being post-partisan to Washington and transforming the country. Thus far, he has won the support of only a single Republican for his health-care plan and has shown himself to be as aggressive a Democratic partisan in office as anyone in the fabled Clinton war room.
Beyond the grand announcements, fine speeches and his eager acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize, Mr Obama has yet to achieve anything of substance. It is time for the campaign to end.