It's a fairly inexplicable statement. After all, Presidents that are great usually get a second term. Second, presidents rarely believe that sacrificing their own power is worth anything. What does Obama mean by this? Well, a clue may be found in this statement he made before he became president.
I don't want to present myself as some sort of singular figure. I think part of what's different are the times. I do think that, for example, the 1980 election was different. I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that you know Richard Nixon did not, and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like, you know, with all the excesses of the 60's and the 70's and, you know, government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. And I think people just tapped into – he tapped into what people were already feeling, which is we want clarity, we want optimism, we want you know a return to that sense of dynamism and you know, entrepreneurship that had been missing, alright?
It's important to note that he saw Reagan as transformational whereas Clinton wasn't. Obama doesn't want to settle for incremental change. He wants to significantly change our society in a way that will make him a mythical figure.
Clinton balanced the budget, reformed welfare, and cut the capital gains tax. All those made him successful and they gave him a second term. They didn't however make him a transformational figure in the mind of President Obama.
That may explain Obama's stubborn pursuit of health care reform, cap and trade, and possible immigration reform. No matter how unpopular health care reform gets, Obama likely in fact views it as the sort of transformative change that is worth anything. He may in fact be willing to sacrifice a second term, his party's popularity, and anything else to pass it. That's because health care reform, in his mind, will be transformative on a scale that will make him transformative.
Of course, Obama himself said that Reagan presented a governance that the "country was ready for". Clearly, the country isn't ready for his health care reform but Obama is still willing to force in on the country. In that way, he views himself differently than Reagan. He'll transform the country even if it isn't ready for it.
This makes Obama an ideologue that is more loyal to his ideology than even to his own power. As such, he's willing to advance this ideology no matter the consequences. If that's the case, that also makes him very dangerous.