Today's New York Times editorial isn't pulling any punches about Obama's debt ceiling deal, calling it precisely what it is - a capitulation.
...The deal would avert a catastrophic government default, immediately and probably through the end of 2012. The rest of it is a nearly complete capitulation to the hostage-taking demands of Republican extremists. It will hurt programs for the middle class and poor, and hinder an economic recovery.
...in the end, most Democrats will have no choice but to swallow their fury, accept the deal and, we hope, fight harder the next time.
The paper laments that the few principles for which the Dems held out were, for the sake of a deal, abandoned.
Democratic negotiators ...are counting on future Congresses to undo its arbitrary butchering.
Sadly, in a political environment laced with lunacy, that calculation is probably correct. Some Republicans in the House were inviting a default, hoping that an economic earthquake would shake Washington and the Obama administration beyond recognition. Democrats were right to fear the effects of a default and the impact of a new recession on all Americans.
President Obama could have been more adamant in dealing with Republicans, perhaps threatening to use constitutional powers to ignore the debt ceiling if Congress abrogated its responsibility to raise it. But this episode demonstrates the effectiveness of extortion. Reasonable people are forced to give in to those willing to endanger the national interest.
I think Obama has all but sealed his fate in 2012. He was elected by a narrow margin thanks to an overwhelming surge of support from progressives who embraced his message of hope and change. He made too many promises that, with rare exception, he has ignored or betrayed. It's going to be very hard, possibly at this stage impossible, for Obama to mobilize those supporters again.