Analysis: Debt debate diminishes everyone

SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson talks about the political damage in the aftermath of Washington's debt ceiling debate.

WASHINGTON - The chaotic and often ugly debt-ceiling talks managed to avert a potential economic catastrophe but inflicted new damage to the political reputations of most of the key players.

The 11th-hour deal to raise the federal government's debt ceiling and avoid default was a rare Washington compromise -- it produced few clear winners and losers but left all of the participants bruised, exhausted and a bit shattered.

Failure would have been devastating to President Barack Obama, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner and conservative Tea Party movement Republicans. With the 2012 elections looming, they survived to fight another day.

But no one got all they wanted, and everyone took heat for marching the government to the brink of a devastating default in a process that graphically displayed the growing depths of Washington dysfunction.

"Everyone came out of this tainted, but nobody was really crippled," said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Texas.

"Everybody, globally and domestically, just feels enervated by the whole process. It's over, the worst didn't happen, but it's difficult to see how you start an upward arc from here."

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