It appears Republicans' debt-ceiling threat is collapsing more quickly than Tim Geithner can say "default." As Greg Sargent observes, the gloomy Newt Gingrich and the even gloomier Wall Street Journal have been heaving opprobrium on the lobotomized tactic--and let's recall John Boehner's insistence two years ago that swapping America's credit for default is a really dumb idea which "would be a financial disaster not only for our country, but for the worldwide economy"--and now, even National Review's editors seem to grasp its knuckledragging enormity:
Republicans should recognize that the prospect of default is the Democrats’ chief weapon in their campaign of [austerity] avoidance. That prospect is not a source of Republican leverage in the debt-ceiling fight; it is the primary source of the Democrats’ leverage.
Good grief, even the House's tea party caucus seems increasingly to comprehend; just listen to their sudden evasions about all things debt-ceiling related and watch their diseased saliva drip as they alternatively fantasize about killing a Continuing Resolution. A nostalgic, good old-GOP-fashionable government shutdown, now that's the ticket. In effect they can have their nihilistic cake, and eat it, too.
As for evading national default, though, Obama, as luck with all great presidents would have it, is benefiting from the desperation or stupidity of others. I have mentioned this curious connection between presidential luck and greatness before, only to receive even curiouser emails in outraged response--as though luck in reference to President Obama is some sort of thoughtless put-down, or worse, a racist put-down. This utterly bewilders me. Historians universally agree, for instance, that the "great" president Thomas Jefferson lucked out in stumbling on a very agreeable real estate deal with the desperate Napoleon, or that the even greater Franklin Roosevelt had the martial gods in his corner when Hitler stupidly declared war on the United States, thus relieving Roosevelt of the insurmountable task of inserting an immensely reluctant America into Europe's war. While both instances--and there are many others--reflected enormous luck for the two white guys, they also diminished their authentic "greatness" not one notch.
As for Obama, he is now hitting with no little luck a kind of bifecta. His extremist opposition is both escalatingly desperate and prodigiously stupid--which, as luck would further have it, are characteristics generally inherent to political extremists.