The debt-ceiling deal hammered out over the weekend "is the lowest moment of Obama's presidency," says Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast. Echoing many liberals, and even some conservatives, Tomasky argues that by letting Republicans and Tea Partiers have just about everything they want while giving up many of his own key demands — like increased revenue to lower the deficit — Obama has done terrible, lasting damage to his political fortunes, his party, and the economy. Is the debt deal really so bad for Obama?
Yes. This is a disaster: Obama didn't just lose his standoff with Tea Partiers, he "surrendered on a grand scale to raw extortion," says Paul Krugman in The New York Times. That makes him look weak, and emboldens further "blackmail on the part of right-wing extremists." Worse, the terrible policy demands the GOP extracted will sink the already depressed economy — and with it, Obama's re-election hopes. It's hard to see this as anything but a "political catastrophe."
"The president surrenders"
The deal isn't so bad for Obama: If he raised a white flag, at least "the terms of surrender are to Obama's advantage," says Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast. He defused the debt-ceiling bomb until after the 2012 election and helped open a chasm in the GOP between Tea Partiers and other GOP factions. And on top of that, Obama "won his own battle: He is perceived as more likely to compromise than the GOP in a country whose independent middle wants compromise."
"Obama's Pyrrhic defeat"
Obama lost — but he set himself up for victory later: The horrible deal is probably "about as non-bad as it could have gotten" for Obama, once he "agreed to negotiate a ransom payment," says Jonathan Chait at The New Republic. Luckily, it leaves him "one golden ticket" — he still controls the fate of the Bush tax cuts, which are set to expire in December 2012. If Obama uses that leverage to turn the tables on the GOP, this debt deal is just a "shrewd strategic defeat." If he won't, it's the "largest in a series of historic capitulations."
"Did Obama get rolled?"