Senior writer Allison Hoffman’s piece today in Tablet Magazine provides a useful heuristic for viewing the debt-ceiling negotiations in Washington: the Mideast peace process. “The underlying differences—mutually exclusive claims to a finite piece of land in one case, mutually exclusive views of what government is for on the other—are arguably unbridgeable, even in the best of circumstances,” Hoffman points out. “As a result, the incentives for those in charge point toward minimizing personal losses over risking career suicide in service of achieving a sweeping solution that is politically risky and possibly untenable.”

While a fair-minded person could find both leaders in either debate equally feckless, or one leader more so than the other, in both situations there is an imbalance: the presence on one side of utter, uncompromising extremists who have obtained the power to make or break a deal. The good news is that the Tea Party is not like Hamas in the latter’s genuine evil, and anyway Speaker John Boehner appears to have more control over the fanatics than President Abbas does. Insha’allah.

Common Ground