Contra moi, Benjamin Dueholm doesn't see how "adopting an unpopular plan as a bargaining position, thereby selling out his base before negotiating even begins, and 'pummeling' the opposition with it had any hope of getting a deal done":

What if, as during the health care battle, the Republicans just refuse to respect the president's rhetorical pummeling? What if they decided to make a political issue of Bowles-Simpson's big cuts to programs old white people like? What if they took the president's offer of a center-right plan and saw validation of their extreme-right alternatives, at least as a negotiating strategy? What if they have rational motives for not wanting a debt deal at all?

I supported Obama in part because he swore to do what was right and necessary, rather than partisan politics and the usual Washington games. He had a chance to make the case for his current position months ago and balked. Maybe now that he is shown to have been forced into this, his own party will treat the proposal less harshly. Maybe. But he lost a key chance to cement a central proclaimed characteristic – tackling hard choices the responsible, post-partisan way – and allowed the GOP to push him into it.

But maybe he's a genius and this really is meep-meep again and I can't see it from London. I look forward to being proven wrong. But from this side of the Atlantic, he looks weak and passive, and not in a good way. Yes, the Republicans appear to be the most extremist, looniest political party in the West, but that's not the point. The debt and deficit is a real crisis. And Obama has followed, not led. Until the very last minute.