How did he do this? First, his plea that the more fortunate among us reach out to those who are struggling was loud, clear and consistent. He continued to insist that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers — that a hard-working middle class needs government support in order to survive and grow. He never wavered, though the length of that tax cut shrank from one year to two months. Second, he got Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to “man up” along with him and strike the best deal he could get in the Senate. Third, he was psychologically ready to remain steadfast in his message.
Several factors converged, helping him evolve into the transformative leader his supporters thought they elected in 2008: the two most obvious were the familiar pressure of needing a last-minute jump shot to save the day and the anticipation of the 2012 election. But two other things happened: President Obama opened his heart to the pain and suffering of fellow Americans by asking them to write to him what a cut of $40 per paycheck would mean to them; and he asked for help — beyond asking for campaign contributions — that enabled him to stand up to schoolyard (read Tea Party) bullies.