He has also sidelined himself by putting out a budget only after the House and the Senate had passed theirs, and including less deficit reduction than either of them.
Obama could end up signing fewer pieces of major legislation in the first year of his second term than did George W. Bush.
There is still a chance of a breakthrough on immigration, although official Washington is overconfident on that issue.
There seems to be a tacit agreement among congressional Republicans and Democrats alike that a bill is more likely to pass the less the president is involved in drafting it.
On immigration, the budget and other issues, the president will, of course, have influence: Senate Democrats won't want to break with him in public.
There is, however, essentially no chance that he will veto anything that the Democratic Senate passes, and thus Republicans can safely pay him little attention on many issues.
The president's widely publicized "charm offensive" may be an attempt to make him relevant again; reading between the lines of some news accounts about it suggests as much.
If so, it's an extraordinary pass for him to reach just weeks into his second term.
Obama's inability to make the most of what ought to be liberalism's moment may reflect his weak relationships with lawmakers in both parties and lack of interest in strengthening them.
That complaint is often heard on Capitol Hill.
Republicans also say they prefer to deal with Vice President Joe Biden, who negotiates, rather than with Obama, who lectures them.
It may also be a result of the geography of Obama's majority coalition. His voters are concentrated in major metropolitan areas.
Even if the last round of gerrymandering hadn't favored the Republicans, it would be hard to assemble a House majority from Obama's voters.
The Democratic majority in the Senate, meanwhile, exists only because it includes candidates elected in more conservative states that voted for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.
That's why the Senate debated such weak gun legislation, and why it isn't debating climate-change legislation at all.
Obama outlined an ambitious liberal vision in his inaugural and State of the Union addresses this year.
It doesn't look like he's going to do much to advance it.
Ponnuru, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior editor at National Review, is a Bloomberg View columnist, .