Over the past few days, Obama and his team have pulled back from a kick-off strategy that portrayed the $84 billion in automatic cuts this year as a parade of instant horrors — hellish waits at airports, a quick cascade of private job losses resulting from voided federal contracts, teachers immediately sacked.

That’s part of a “recalibration,” according to one Obama insider, intended to take the focus off the veracity of the administration’s claims — and back on congressional Republicans who have refused to give ground on new tax revenue demanded by Obama as a condition of any long-term budget deal.

“I think they probably went over the top in terms of saying that the consequences were going to be horrible, especially because it’s happened and the lines in the airports aren’t long, the world hasn’t changed overnight,” says former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, an on-again, off-again Obama critic who supports the broad outlines of Obama’s $4 trillion “grand bargain” proposal…

One top Democratic Congressional aide offered this bit of advice to Obama: “Don’t accentuate a fight you don’t intend to wage [and] can’t win. … They spent two weeks building up sequester as a horror show and then got fact-checked a dozen times and were forced to back off their own claims of it being a disaster once they were forced to acquiesce to the cuts happening.”