Don't Call It a Comeback.

Now that the House has passed the president's tax deal, the story today -- it seems -- is how Obama has bounced back after a supposedly terrible year. Here is Politico:

Yet for all that drama, President Barack Obama closed the most impressive sales job of his presidency a few minutes before the clock struck midnight on Thursday -- winning House approval of a broadly popular tax-cut and unemployment extension opposed by the extremes of both parties.

If the past two years has been spent ramming though Obama’s ambitious and often unpopular policy agenda, whatever the cost, the past two weeks has been an exercise in salesmanship and compromise -- some would say capitulation -- unlike anything he’s pulled off as president.

And Charles Krauthammer, writing in The Washington Post op-ed page:

Remember the question after Election Day: Can Obama move to the center to win back the independents who had abandoned the party in November? And if so, how long would it take? Answer: Five weeks. An indoor record, although an asterisk should denote that he had help -- Republicans clearing his path and sprinkling it with rose petals.

To Beltway observers, who are generally bearish on Obama's popularity and prospects, this obviously comes as a surprise. But in the real world, the president's political recovery is no great surprise. For most of the year, his approval ratings have hovered between 46 percent and 48 percent, with a high of 53 percent in February and a low of 41 percent in October.

At 45 percent, Obama's current approval rating is higher than it was for Reagan or Clinton at this point in their presidencies. For 2010, his average approval rating is 47 percent -- excellent for a president in an economy with nearly double-digit unemployment -- and he still gets high marks from his core supporters, with 84 percent approval from African Americans and 69 percent approval from liberals. As far as public perception goes, Obama has always been in a good place.

-- Jamelle Bouie

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