And so now voters should be expected to wonder whether the goals he laid out Thursday night will be -- or even can be -- achieved.
Knowing he faces a skeptical, hard-bitten electorate, Obama sought to cast GOP rival Mitt Romney as an empty-suit candidate without a plan. "They want your vote," he said of the GOP ticket, "but they don't want you to know their plan."
It is true that the GOP convention last week in Tampa lacked a specific battle plan to turn around the economy. And, yes, the Obama campaign released Thursday night a six-page agenda labeled "President Obama's Goals for America."
But it wasn't a blueprint as much as it was a collection of lofty goals and promises -- more than Romney put forward last week, less than voters may demand.
To be clear, Obama accomplished almost everything he set out to do Thursday night. And because the speech was so well delivered at the end of a smartly produced three-day convention, Obama now has two months to make the case that his agenda isn't built on mere hope.
He might want to consider offering more details in the debates, policy speeches, and ads.
For now, voters must settle for prose -- like this chestnut channeling both Abe Lincoln and John F. Kennedy:
"We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what's in it for me, a freedom without commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense."
Before the networks began their convention broadcasts, Obama's surrogates stirred the partisan crowd with attacks on Romney and his message. But Obama himself mainly hewed to the high road, mindful of polling that shows swing voters weary of negative attacks.
He did contrast Romney's approach to his on health care, education, taxes, and national security, an issue the GOP once owned. "A new tower rises above the New York skyline. The economy is on the path to recovery and Osama bin Laden is dead," he said.
Indeed, Obama and his strategists know that Thursday night's speech -- no matter how well received -- is highly unlikely to change the nature of a closely fought race.
But they hope that the positive, forward-looking vision he put forth (even with a lack of specifics) sets the tone for the fall.
Obama will be negative; disqualifying Romney is a key to his strategy. But now he has a positive flip-side.
The bar was much lower for Romney last week. Still little-known by most voters, the GOP nominee's mission in Tampa was simple: Introduce himself to Americans, giving them a sense of his values, his character, and his plans for the nation.
Obama had a higher climb. Voters know he can make pretty promises, but they have doubts about whether he can keep them. Most voters like the president but they do worry about his ability to get the job done.