Mr Obama’s capitulation to Republicans in the recent tussle over deficit reduction is being seen as the lowest point of his presidency and the latest in a series of blows to the liberal agenda.

Finding it hard to defend his often listless and repetitive performances, Democratic strategists and commentators are privately agreeing with Republicans and comparing Mr Obama to Jimmy Carter, another Democrat who remains the post-war benchmark for a failed president.

“This is the downside of him not being terribly political like Bill Clinton was. Bill Clinton woke up every day relishing this kind of fight, and Hillary is just a tougher person. The Clintons are much more combative, they are always ready to go to Defcon 1 (‘war is imminent’ state).”

Mr Reid added that the president remained a formidable campaigner and fund-raiser and should not be ruled out of the fight in 2012. But he said some Democrats were feeling “buyer’s remorse” for selecting the president in his epic battle with Mrs Clinton for the 2008 Democratic nomination.

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