James Piereson argues that president Obama lacks idealism:
...the Camelot ideal never fit Obama, who brought to the presidency a sense of ambivalence about the American future and America’s role in the world. It is hard to play the role of inspiring leader while counseling one’s citizens to scale back their expectations. While President Obama is capable of eloquence, his attempts often fall short because they are accompanied by an undertow of caution and pessimism. It is hard to imagine Obama saying, as Kennedy did, that “we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” Such bold calls to arms were perfectly consistent with the liberalism of Kennedy’s time, but for many reasons are at odds with the liberalism of today. For better or worse, Obama’s ambitions do not approach the high ideals of Camelotand he and his admirers might be better off if they acknowledged that.
I don't think he ever saw of himself as anything else. And I sure didn't. Have you looked again at his sober downer of an Inaugural Address? And that's why I supported him. There is a Niebuhrian sense of irony at the center of his Christianity and politics. So we will be spared the Bay of Pigs, super-charging the military-industrial complex, easy tax cuts, and near global nuclear catastrophe. For which I am extremely grateful.