Barack Obama has certainly won a political victory by forcing the GOP to support (or at least allow) the largest tax hike in years. He steadfastly refused to allow the GOP the fig leaf of reducing deductions as opposed to raising rates. He actually settled for less revenue than the $800 billion Speaker Boehner offered before the negotiations had even began. It would seem Obama is a fool, but this wasn't about new tax revenue or spending cuts. The purpose of this whole exercise was to fracture the Republican Party by forcing many of them to break their no tax hike pledge.
Barack Obama has certainly achieved his political goal. I wouldn't blame the GOP base if they quit the 'Grand Old Party' in disgust. John Boehner is seriously damaged and might even lose his Speaker-ship. Goal achieved by Barack Obama and Democrats. Now, the question is, "What has this cost Obama and Democrats?" The short answer is a successful second term. The long answer is a reduction of his place in history as judged by presidential historians.
Barack Obama has made the same mistake in this term as he did in his first term. Instead of reaching across the aisle and showing respect to the loyal opposition, he has played political hardball of the most extreme kind. Obama was able to move major legislation in his first 2 years because his party controlled the House by a wide margin and had a super-majority in the Senate for part of the time. This allowed King Obama to play 'my way or the highway' for almost 2 years. Then, voters gave control of the House to Republicans and there has been gridlock ever since. Guess what is going to happen now.
In two months, Obama will have to fight the budget battle over again and Republicans will be determined to win or at least force an equitable deal. Obama's chances of passing any major legislation on guns, immigration, climate change or any other major issue of importance to him has evaporated. He has poisoned his well yet again. Barack Obama is a fool. His only hope is to have Democrats take control of the House in 2014, but that is unlikely. No president in modern times has gained more than 9 House seats in a mid-term election. Losses of 20 to 40 seats by his party are not uncommon. Now, if our feckless GOP leaders could only find their spines...