Last month in four installments -- one, two, three, and four -- I posted readers' views on how we should understand President Obama's negotiating stance during the (unnecessary and abusive) debt-ceiling "showdown." Was he thinking eight steps ahead of the opposition, playing multi-dimensional chess while they were playing tic-tac-toe? Or was he a fatal step or two behind, playing patty-cake while they were playing Mixed Martial Arts? Chess master? Or pawn?
I think we know the answer, at least about this encounter. Pawn, and captured pawn at that.
The Republicans, with control of only one house of Congress, succeeded on virtually every point that mattered to them, especially to their most intransigent members. The Democrats, in control of the presidency and the other, "senior" house, succeeded on nothing that should have mattered to them, starting with implicitly legitimizing the conversion of the debt-ceiling vote into a hostage-taking exercise -- and ending with embracing a "compromise" that in the short term depresses hopes for dealing with our one genuine economic emergency, the unemployment crisis, and that in the long-run is likely to be as bad for our political system as for our economic prospects.