The training wheels are off for the Obama administration, which has passed the six-month mark in office. But officials are just now learning the Washington sport of backpedaling.

It started over the weekend when President Barack Obama and Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius appeared to soften the stance that a public insurance option would be required in any healthcare reform plan.

That led to an outcry from liberal Democrats, most notably House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said the public option was the best option.

USA/Now the White House says it never changed its tune. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says reports of the administration backing away from the public option were an “overreaction” to Sebelius comments and that the administration’s message has been “boringly consistent.”

How fast can one backpedal on the backpedal?

That is the danger of floating a trial balloon to gauge response — if it bursts then you have to adopt a slightly surprised demeanor and act like everyone got the wrong idea. MEXICO-BALLOONS/