I understand why Tea Partiers and even conservatives who drink decaf might think the debt ceiling deal isn’t very good, even allowing for the current strength of forces on the political chess board. But judging from the UK papers on offer this morning here at Heathrow airport, Obama has had his head handed to him. The Independent has a big photo of Obama on the front page, with the headline “Obama Humbled.” The cutline describes the debt ceiling deal as “widely seen as a major defeat for the U.S. President.” The full story on page 4 bears the headline “Obama Forced to Swallow Tea Party’s Demands.”
Curiously, The Independent’s “Viewspaper” op-ed page has several articles not available online that all take the same tone. One of them is from an American, the conflicted Dave Weigel, who thinks the deal will prove fatal to the Democratic Party: “This debt deal is a gun-to-the-head recanting of everything Obama and his Democrats say they believe in,” and risks sending the Democratic Party “spiraling into depression.” By contrast, the left here in the UK notes that even David Cameron is embracing tax increases to reduce the UK’s large debt level. (Needless to say, it is useless to point out to folks over here that David Cameron couldn’t even carry a moderate Republican district in Connecticut if he had to try his act in the U.S.)
To which we can only say, let us hope so. Perhaps this deal is in fact the political equivalent of President George H.W. Bush reversing his “read my lips: No. New. Taxes.” pledge in 1990, which contributed mightily to his subsequent loss on 1992. And so we have the best of both worlds politically: a deal that leaves the Tea Party unsatisfied and therefore fired up for the next battles and election cycle, and a demoralized liberal base that can’t come to grips with the fact that socialism is over because we’ve run out of other people’s money—a point made in Toby Young’s blog on another British paper today, The Telegraph.
Gotta board an airplane now. See you all stateside tonight or tomorrow.