Both the debt deal and the raucous caucus way it came into being calls for a new modesty about the US role in the world.
The wrenching, hand-wringing way that Washington reached a debt deal – as well as the deal’s details – may have one good effect: It could force the United States to become more modest about its role as a leader.
Modesty is certainly in order after the circuslike way that Congress and the White House finally raised the debt ceiling and avoided a historic US default. In fact, the political catharsis could be America’s “Suez moment” – a realization that it isn’t the power it once was. (During a 1956 crisis over the Suez Canal, Britain and France had to admit they were no longer imperial powers that could easily dictate events.)
Even President Obama, a leader who prefers to “lead from behind,” threw up his hands at this example of “dysfunctional government.”
His lament echoed comments from abroad. China saw the political brinkmanship as “dangerously irresponsible.” Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin referred to US debt as a “parasite” on the global economy and the debt deal as simply delaying “a more systemic solution.” France’s Le Monde newspaper said the most powerful nation had become a “laughing stock.”