Is it time to declare victory on the debt-ceiling debate and aim for November 2012 instead? Charles Krauthammer puts it as gently as possible in this segment from The O’Reilly Factor last night, but says that the Tea Party is picking a losing fight while Republicans only control one chamber of Congress and face a hostile President. The Tea Party has changed the paradigm by forcing Democrats away from tax hikes and debating over how much to cut from federal spending, rather than whether to cut at all. It’s time to settle for those gains and start working for long-term changes by focusing on the next elections:

“I respect what they want to do; I share what they want to do: shrink the government,” he said. But at a time when the country is going into debt and destroying everything in its path, Krauthammer said that Conservatives need to understand the only way to stop the damage, according to our Constitutional system, is to control the White House and the Congress.

To do that, the GOP needs to win the presidential election in 2012. He and O’Reilly both agreed on the belief that Bachmann and other Tea Party members who hold such a black-and-white stance and insist on not passing the Boehner bill – or any bill increasing the debt ceiling – could cost them that possibility. Krauthammer said the Tea Party is fighting the wrong battle at the wrong time, and no matter what, their position won’t be won from “pointing a gun” from half of Congress.

“You cannot govern from one branch. All the Conservatives control now is half a branch … and under our system, you’ve got to have it all.” he said.

“All of us respect the Constitution; it sort of defines the new Conservatism. If you believe in it, then respect the Constitution, understand its restraints, and win the election in November.”

The only way that can happen? Persuade the country that America needs a smaller, more Constitutional government. Krauthammer said that right now Obama is weak, Conservatives’ case is strong, and the economy’s on the rocks. “Why would you want to send the country into a crisis now and share the blame with Obama? It makes no sense whatsoever.”

Is Krauthammer right? Getting deep structural changes while only controlling the House was always a long shot at best, and the ball has been advanced farther than we might have hoped. However, that still leaves us with a crushing rate of debt aggregation, with all of the burdens that places on our national economy and future generations. Tea Party activists had more change in mind after the 2010 midterms.

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