Grade for Dec. 24-30: C-

"When is a victory not really a victory? As of this writing, it looks like there will be a deal on the 'fiscal cliff' and that it might be enough to avert the worst crises: no rise in taxes for the middle class, a restoration of Medicare payments, and an extension of unemployment insurance.

"The only bipartisan aspect of any of this is that both sides suggest that the president has won this round. However, we must now look to the next gargantuan battle in a couple of months when the issue of raising the debt ceiling raises its ugly head again. If there really is this limited deal, no one in Congress (of either party) wins a new chapter in an updated version of John F. Kennedy's 'Profiles In Courage' and no one emerges as a Henry Clay and Daniel Webster - brilliant, principled orators who knew how to make real compromises.

"When the sad history of this saga is told, the entire process (including the actors who played starring roles) must be described as worse than dysfunctional. This has been profoundly disrespectful to the American people, of all stripes, who voted in sufficient numbers to make this election matter. Voters wanted a deal, not the cheapest gravel that's laid down to cover up the pothole for a few days before it cracks again."

Last week's grade: F