I've been very lucky to have been spending quite a bit of my regularly blocked out time for blogging focused on building a new website the last couple weeks. The news has been so frustrating, so roller-coaster like, and so depressingly tilted towards extremists that I've wanted to just put on my headphones and bury myself in code.
I took a break from this around 1:30am on Monday, and saw that we've finally got a deal that looks like it will pass. This is certainly better than default, and lets hope this is enough to keep the credit rating agencies from downgrading us. This is all assuming that the grumbling on the Left doesn't result in a large block of Democrats who don't vote for this deal after all, or the Tea Party right-wingers manage to scuttle this somehow.
Thank heaven we can move on to other things now, right? Like, you know, the two major parties arguing about who won, and who this will help politically.
Lets be honest here... the GOP clearly won this fight. But they did so in an amazingly irresponsible manner, much like winning a game of chicken by letting go of the wheel and assuming the other side will swerve. It's pretty obvious by now that President Obama is a terrible negotiator, and between the inflexibility of the right wing elements in the Republican party, and the more strategic manuevering of the GOP establishment, he mostly twisted in the wind.
It's hard for me to understand why he chose to wait until a week before the country was to default to use his most powerful ace in the hole forcefully - the bully pulpit. His speech last Monday laid out a plan that was well within range of what polling showed the American people wanted out of the debt ceiling negotiations.
Had he been hammering away at the Republicans for the last several weeks, would we have seen a more balanced deal? Could he have pulled in the small percentage of more moderate Republicans in the House and Senate that would have been needed to pass something near what the President oulined in his speech last week? Nobody can know that, but I wish he would have tried.
So the folks on the far right - 20 percent of the populace according to a recent Gallup poll - that only wanted spending cuts out of this essentially got what they wanted. The GOP has opened themselves up to a river of scorn over this, and I could find not a single centrist or moderate blogger, including the right leaners who are more prone to siding with Republicans, who thought the right's behavior on this issue was remotely acceptable.
I don't think the question is whether this will hurt the GOP in the coming election cycle, but rather how much it will hurt them, and whether the Democrats will take the opportunity to build good will with the center in an effort to retake some of the seats lost last year.
Solomon Kleinsmith is a nonprofit worker, serial social entrepreneur and strident centrist independent blogger from Omaha, Nebraska. His website, Rise of the Center, is the fastest growing blog targeting centrist independents and moderates.