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If he agrees to extend former President George W. Bush’s tax cuts and accepts some modest rollbacks in federal programs, he will look like an entirely new president - flexible, willing to listen and open to change.

Those views might not endear him to the left wing of his own party, but he will win back the hearts of the independent voters who put him in the White House but abandoned him and his party on Nov. 2.

The big test will occur this spring, when Congress will be faced with passing and the president will be asked to sign into law yet another increase in the federal debt ceiling - the legislation that will allow the government to keep operating largely on borrowed money.

It’s in the best interest of neither party to allow the government to shut down over the issue. If the president is able to navigate his way through to a higher debt ceiling - and if he does so with bipartisan support - he will prove himself to be a leader of the nation and not just his own political clan. Surely that’s what he wanted to do anyway.

The economy looks like it’s finally getting its legs back, and Mr. Obama is already walking a more moderate path. The combination will bring him and his party back from the brink, and soon.

Jeffrey H. Birnbaum is a Washington Times columnist, a Fox News contributor and president of BGR Public Relations.