But among the more than two-dozen left-leaning young adults who gathered at this bar in his adopted hometown on Wednesday night to watch the State of the Union address, patience with Mr. Obama was running thin.
A self-described progressive and person of faith, Kate Ward awarded the president a backhanded compliment that sounded as if it might have been lifted from a Republican National Committee press release.
"It was a great speech, and we know he can make great speeches," Ward said. "He needs to follow up his pretty words with action, and really put his political muscle behind his ideas for reform."
As Mr. Obama delivered the latest most important speech of his young presidency, he was rewarded by smatterings of applause inside Sheffield's, but nothing more than that.
In fact, the most boisterous reaction of the evening came not in response to anything Mr. Obama said, but rather when collective laughter rang out as a television camera caught a yawning Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Matthew Filipowicz heads the Chicago chapter of "Drinking Liberally," a national progressive group that organizes social events like Wednesday's State of the Union watch. He calls himself "very liberal" and is leery of the president's promise to continue to reach out to Republicans.
"People elected Obama and the Democrats to actually initiate change, and so far his first year, he's done an all right job," Filipowicz said. "But what he really needs to do is go out there and fight for this 365 days a year, go out and get his hands dirty and really take it to the Republicans, take it to the Democrats in the Senate, who are not pushing this stuff through."
With the Democratic supermajority in the Senate hauled away in the bed of Scott Brown's pickup truck and health care reform in serious jeopardy, the mood among Mr. Obama's base here has clearly dampened since that cold November night over a year ago when Filipowicz joined a couple hundred thousand like minded friends in Grant Park to celebrate the start of a new era in American politics.
Karlo Marcelo counts himself among the many here who remain optimistic about this presidency, but he acknowledges that the current climate in Washington is a long way from the halcyon days of 2008.
"I think that campaigning and governing are two different things," Marcelo said. "And I think a lot of us knew that governing was going to be a totally different thing."