Byron York
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Nine months ago, Barack Obama likened his Republican opposition to an illness. If he could just defeat Mitt Romney, Obama said, then the illness might subside. "I believe that if we're successful in this election -- when we're successful in this election -- that the fever may break," Obama told a fundraiser in Minneapolis last June.

After Obama won re-election, there was extensive discussion among his supporters about whether the Republican "fever" would, in fact, break. Would the fiscal cliff negotiations, which resulted in the GOP accepting a tax increase on the nation's highest earners, do the trick? If not, would coming fights over the debt ceiling and sequestration finally cure the Republican illness?

There was little speculation about whether something very different might happen: Would determined GOP opposition break Obama's fever? That is, could Republicans weaken the president's resolve to defeat the GOP and further raise taxes? That appears to be what has happened, at least for the moment. Republican determination to go through with sequestration, which Obama warned would have disastrous consequences nationwide, seems to have forced the president to change course.

At his March 1 news conference after meeting Republican leaders in the White House, Obama seemed resigned to the possibility that he cannot win the tax increases he seeks, and that after enlisting his entire administration in a campaign to frighten Americans about sequestration, the cuts have become a reality that he has to acknowledge.

"This is not going to be an apocalypse, I think, as some people have said," Obama declared (not mentioning that his administration had been behind most of the apocalypse talk). "It's just dumb. And it's going to hurt."

Nevertheless, Obama said that when the next budget fight happens, later in March over a resolution to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year, he will accede to the reality of sequestration. "There's no reason," he said, "why we should have another crisis by shutting the government down in addition to these arbitrary spending cuts."

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Byron York

Byron York, chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner