To Republicans, Obama’s words were a sign that a fever had broken — and it wasn’t the GOP’s. “I definitely read a change in tone in [Friday’s] press conference,” said one Senate aide. “Obama’s tone has clearly shifted on the sequester. By using his press conference to call out those who’ve been predicting the apocalypse over the past few weeks, he was really calling out nobody more than himself. In that moment, I think, a lot of Republicans realized that the ground had shifted in this debate. The president overplayed his hand, and he knows it.”

“I thought the real news of the press conference was his admission that sequestration isn’t the apocalypse,” said another Senate aide. “And basically that the sky won’t fall. If he doesn’t direct his administration to pull the sky down (illegal immigrant releases, etc.) in the next few months, that will be a sign that his fever is breaking and he is ready to move on. Both Boehner and McConnell are adamant about not raising more taxes so hopefully he sees the writing on the wall.”

“He did seem to concede that the next spending bill will be at the post-sequester level and that there won’t be an Armageddon as a result of the sequester,” said a third Senate aide. “But Sen. McConnell…and the Speaker have been clear as a bell. I don’t know why it took so long for the message to be received.”