Here's my post from January 19, when Obama made his statement which, as I noted at the time was not much of a promise.
He's not promising to withdraw and leave the presidential stage to his successor, which is what George W. Bush did for him.Obama had said: "There’s a difference between that normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake." But we knew very well, I said, that "there's this meme that the new President is not normal."
Bush, like his father, adhered to an absolute principle. Obama respects the principle by cushioning it with a malleable escape clause: where core values may be at stake. And what a wide door that is! Not only is the concept "core values" subject to infinite debate, but — whatever these values are — they don't have to be severely threatened, only "at stake." And they don't even need to be at stake. It's enough that they "may" be at stake. Well, then there's really no one-President-at-a-time principle of withdrawal at all.