And with each surrender -- over his desire to raise the debt limit without mandated spending cuts, over his support for bailing out states in trouble, and over his demand to raise taxes in the 2012 budget -- Obama will get weaker and weaker.
His inability to fight and win the war on terror and his choice to become mired in Afghanistan with no real plan for winning will contribute to the image of weakness.
In 2012, he will face America, denuded of all the programs he passed in 2009-2010, with an economy only slightly improved but with at least 7 percent to 8 percent unemployment, and with a manifest inability to measure up to the job of president.
Most presidents face a challenge of weakness. With Dwight Eisenhower, it was his refusal to stand up to Joe McCarthy. With John Kennedy, it was his inability to pass legislation. With Richard Nixon, it was his inability to get ahead of the Watergate scandal. With Gerald Ford, it was his helplessness in the face of inflation. With Jimmy Carter, it was the hostage crisis. With Ronald Reagan, it was his failure to control the Iran-Contra affair. With George Bush-41, it was his passivity on the economy. With Bill Clinton, it was the flip-flopping early in his presidency. With Barack Obama, it will be his retreat in the face of the Republican counter-attack of 2011.