Barack Obama faces uncomfortable questions about his role in the government shut-down and the far more serious debt ceiling crisis.
Did the president use his exalted position to soothe partisan fevers that have paralyzed Washington, or did he intensify divisions for partisan advantage? Did he do whatever he could to limit the shutdown's pain and inconvenience or did he maximize that discomfort to discredit his adversaries?
The ridiculous barriers sealing off public monuments and national parks offer powerful images answering those questions. No wonder a Gallup Poll showed those who felt more negatively about Obama because of the shutdown outnumbering those who turned more positive by two-to-one—similar to the margin of disapproval for Congress.
The president can hardly emerge as a winner from this fiasco because he's still the head of an increasingly discredited government.