Can President Obama triangulate after the fashion of President Clinton? Everyone knew that Bill Clinton was a political animal first and foremost. His tendency to say or do whatever politics demanded was well known when he was elected in 1992. He also campaigned as a centrist, DLC Democrat, He worked with the GOP to secure NAFTA early in his term. After 1994, when left health care and his stimulus ideas behind, and worked with the GOP Congress to cut taxes, balance the budget, change welfare, etc., it did not really change America's perception of who he was. If memory serves, approval of Clinton as President waxed as approval of him as a person waned.
President Obama, by contrast, presented himself as a fundamentally decent person, and a man of principle. Hence it might be harder for him to repudiate what he once said was a matter of principle, even if he also presented himself as a pragmatic guy. In contrast to Clinton, he remains personally popular, even as his job approval drops.
Agreeing to a compromise on taxes, and denouncing it publicly as bad policy is not surprising from that perspective. It reminds me of President Bush throwing down the pen after he signed the bill to build a wall to secure our border.
In short, will President Obama be able to sell himself as a centrist, pragmatic politician?