The tax deal is virtually done but the piquant side effect is how quickly an abject surrender has been converted into a "second stimulus."
One of Barack Obama's underrated gifts is to act out Ronald Reagan's favorite joke about the optimistic boy who, faced with a pile of dung, jumps in and roots around, while enthusing, "There must be a pony in here somewhere!"
He did it with the health care debacle and is now repeating the performance in the lame-duck disaster.
This time, the President has sidetracked economists into an argument over just how much the economy will benefit from the face-saving concessions wrested from a GOP victory that will add $4 trillion to the deficit in the next decade.
Now Mark Zandi of Moody's is predicting that the deal "will add a lot to growth in the first half of next year, when the recovery will be at its most vulnerable. It really seals the deal for the recovery evolving into a self-sustaining economic expansion" as Paul Krugman quibbles over the size and duration of the "jump-start."
Meanwhile, the President is warning Congressional allies that they will be plunging the country into "a double-dip recession" if they fail to mount the pony he found and ratify his deal with the Republicans. Somewhere in Oval Office heaven, Reagan must be laughing his head off at seeing his joke come to such hilarious life.
But what may be funnier still is the sight of the oddest couple in America, Sarah Palin and Ralph Nader, joining in criticism of Obama just as America prepares for its annual Christmas showing of "It's a Wonderful Life."
So it is, if you don't weaken and work hard to keep your sense of humor.
Update: The ghost of Reagan won't help much in the President's current situation, but he is getting a visit from another former president who can give him advice about getting out of hot water. In facing a fractious Congress, Bill Clinton knows all about explaining what the meaning of "is" is and moving on to the next year of a turbulent term.