2009 - Time after time, rather than put up a fight against devious, demented, and defecating Republicans, the new President backed down, withdrew nominees, and sought compromise.
After appearing weak-kneed, his popularity went down.
2013 - Contrary to his behavior early in his first term, Obama repeatedly calls out GOPers, stands up to their stupidity, and picks nominees who anger his opposition. His popularity rises.
COINCIDENCE? I think NOT!
Watching the President and his tactics during the Budget Wars, in which he not only stole GOPers' candy, but took Boehner's bib, pacifier AND his bourbon, it is clear that his tactics have changed from 2009.
Part of it is due to the size of his victory. Part of it is due the quality of his opposition. Part of it is due to the collapse of the Teabuggers (except in upcoming primaries of certain GOP house and senate members).
But mostly, a great part of it is due to the quality of his political advisors and his realizing that in order to have one, he must use his spine.
4 years ago, Obama would never have submitted Chuck Hagel as a nominee. The early backstabbing and concerted orchestrated series of lies would have been reason enough for him to even avoid the nomination.
4 years ago, Obama would have fired a black female, simply because of a breibart based bullshit attack on a qualified, honest, and hard-working federal employee.
4 years ago, Obama would have never dared tell Boehner and Company, "Screw you, I've got this. I earned it."
4 years ago, Obama would have sought out a compromise on Bush Tax cuts for too dear a price.
4 years ago, Obama would not have used the bully pulpit.
4 years ago, Obama would not have had GOP governors singing his praises.
4 years ago, Obama would have never mentioned gun control.
4 years ago, Obama would have avoided staring down Boehner, while sending Biden to make the real deal.
Maybe the absence of Rahm has been a blessing (I am sure of this). Maybe Obama has learned that you cannot compromise with the Party of No. Maybe there is something in the drinking water served in the White House. Whatever the reason, the new and improved presidency is doing just fine, thank you very much.