It seems The Big Lebowski can be used as a metaphor for everything, including the Fiscal Cliff debacle in Washington, DC.
The basic text for understanding this situation, as with so many situations, is The Big Lebowski. A woman has allegedly been taken hostage by nihilists (nihilists conveniently being a common point of comparison with the House Republican caucus.) Jeffrey Lebowski, the Jeff Bridges character, fears they will kill her. Walter, the John Goodman character, has already figured out that there is no hostage. Lebowski here is Obama, and Walter is Harry Reid:
Walter is right. There is no hostage. The Republican Party was actually terrified of the no-deal scenario. Policy-wise, the alternative to a small tax hike that they agreed to was a huge tax hike that they didn’t agree to. The politics were even worse: Republicans would be blamed for higher taxes on the middle class in order to defend the rich, deepening an already severe image problem.
Now go read the whole thing.