Barack Obama has bent over backwards to Republican swine over the debt reduction fight, and right now he looks weak as hell to me. He’s the “adult in the room,” yes, but how I wish he had the courage to be more than just reasonable and mild-mannered. I think of Obama these days and right away I get irritated. He’s a moderate conservative, and I thought I was voting for a guy who would try to be much, much more.

It would be so great if a serious liberal could challenge Obama in the primaries and give him trouble and speak the truth and let some light into the room.

I’m saying this with a presumption that Obama will be re-elected in 2012. As he should be, given the alternatives. He’s a sane, perceptive and highly intelligent U.S. President. Most voters of any education or reasonably adult perceptions will almost certainly choose to keep him for a second term rather than vote in the glib and shape-shifting Mitt Romney or, God forbid, Michelle Bachmann or some other lying, slithering, corporate-kowtowing Republican serpent.

But Obama’s refusal to act like a man — to talk straight and stand his ground like a strong, scrappy liberal and call those deranged, Tea Party-fellating radicals by their right name and most of all to use the bully pulpit of his office to explain what’s really going on and what the right’s agenda is truly about — is infuriating. In his 7.31 piece called “The President Surrenders,” N.Y. Times columnist Paul Krugman noted that Republicans “will surely be emboldened by the way Mr. Obama keeps folding in the face of their threats…and that the reported terms of the deal…amount to an abject surrender on the part of the president.”

If I could clap my hands three times and have a genuinely tough liberal hombre in the Oval Office, somebody who thinks like Bill Maher and talks almost as plainly and who would all but spit in the Republicans’ eye, I would clap my hands three times.

Obama has made the term “adult in the room” seem synonymous with “the capitulator,” “the man with no balls,” “the guy who doesn’t know how to play poker like a man” and so on.