"We always knew it was going to get worse before it got better. But it got worser."

Some jittery Democrats, moreover, whisper that his legislative agenda – particularly an energy bill and the health care reform package – may be too ambitious for the end-of-the-year deadline Obama has imposed.

“I’m nervous,” a Democratic operative close to the Obama White House admitted. “He’s set the bar so high that if we don’t get energy and health care, the press will eat him alive.”

Another prominent Democratic consultant echoes the yips from even some true believers:

“It could be great, it could be a disaster.”