In Kansas last week, the president debuted an aggressive new tone, but his actions in Washington since then suggest it's all talk.
Coming hot on the heels of the White House's decision not to veto controversial new measures on terror detainees, Democrats are poised for another defeat in Congress after Senate Democrats dropped their demand for a new surtax on millionaires as a means of paying for extending the payroll tax cut, set to expire on Dec. 31.
That's two major concessions in just a couple of days. The two issues aren't identical -- on detainee provisions, the White House was able to get some changes it wanted, and was facing political opposition even within its own party. (Besides, the matter is largely being kicked down the road.)
The tax decision, however, looks like more of a cave. It's a Washington truism that the current crop of Democrats are terrible negotiators. But this time, they really seemed to have it in the bag. They were calling for a tax cut, after all, and they had Republicans tying themselves in knots explaining why the party of Reagan and Tea didn't want lower taxes. All the Democrats wanted in exchange for extending the reduction was a small increase in how much the wealthy paid -- a position that was widely popular among voters. Even RedState's Erick Erickson was grudgingly impressed. "I never thought I would see the day, but Democrats are outmaneuvering Republicans on a tax cut," he wrote.