He actually made us believe that after four years of unrelenting Republican dickishness he had finally become inured. No more Mr. cave-before-he-even-got-to-the-negotiations-table; goodbye to negotiating terms with himself and a big hello to drawing lines in the sand that wouldn't be crossed.
This was a new, reformed president who recognized that with the support of the majority of Americans firmly behind him, and unequivocal evidence that if the "fiscal cliff" talks tanked, they would blame the Republicans, he could confidently stand firm and keep his campaign promises. He would not touch Social Security, he would not cut benefits for MediCare recipients, and if push came to shove, he would let the Bush tax cuts expire and wait to negotiate with the new congress.
Unfortunately, it appears that his new-found grit turned out to be so much sand in an hour-glass. It began running out on November 6th and it looks like it hit bottom on December 17th. We now learn through the press, that the president is willing to give Republicans concessions that will do exactly what he promised he wouldn't do; enact smaller tax hikes on the rich at the expense of the middle-class and make cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Way to hold your ground, Mr. President!
I'm trying to remember if there has ever been another leader who was so inexplicably committed to making a sow's ear out of a silk purse in every negotiation he enters into with Congress, but none come to mind. Only President Obama, who is holding all the cards in these fiscal talks with an embattled John Boehner, could look at his three aces and two kings and then fold his hand.
It was exactly this kind of leadership from Obama and the Democrats that led the country to throw up its hands in disgust and sweep Republicans back into Congress in 2010. It does not bode well for 2014.
I thought I had gotten over being disappointed with Mr. Obama a long time ago, but like the idiot I am, I allowed myself to believe once again that this time was different. He was older, wiser, didn't have to think about re-election and had finally gotten the Republicans' number. Ah well, I think it was probably former President George W. Bush who said it best: "There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again."