"I'm the couch party"

It's too early to have a firm grasp on what effect President Morsi's constitutional declaration has had on the Brotherhood, the judiciary, the presidency and Egyptian politics as a whole - whether the crisis will pass or leave fundamental changes. It was only last week that Morsi rode an international media high after receiving credit for negotiating the Gaza ceasefire. At the rate Egypt's politics moves, tomorrow he'll have stepped down and invited SCAF to return.

But there is a picture from today's massive protest in Tahrir Square that is circulating online and which I think goes a fair way toward describing the current scene.

kanaba.jpg

The text reads: "I'm the Couch Party, and thank you for making me come."

In Egypt since the revolution, the Couch Party has become a catch-all phrase to describe the "silent majority," those middle- and upper-class citizens who prize calm, stability and a steady paycheck over radical political change. In other words, the people who stayed on their couches. For activists and enthusiastic Tahrir participants, Couch Partiers were often synonymous with those who supported or sympathized with Mubarak and who voted for Ahmed Shafik - the despised felool, or remnants of the regime.

If we can be sure of one thing, it's that Morsi's decrees have finally brought the Couch Party into the square.

During and even before this past summer's presidential campaigning, the silent majority and Couch Partiers held rallies outside Tahrir - in Cairo's Roxy and Abbaseya squares. Shafik's campaign further energized them and brought their sentiments into the limelight.

But those days were marked by partisanship and political bickering among the various liberal, leftist and progressive factions. Few who supported the revolution could bring themselves to support Shafik. The thought of Mubarak's last prime minister and a former Air Force general in office was enough to make them cringe.

Yet Morsi's Thursday-night surprise seems to have shoved all the non-Brotherhood factions together. In Tahrir on Tuesday one could find former Morsi voters holding signs demanding the fall of the "Morshid's rule" - a reference to the Brotherhood's Supreme Guide - across the street from tourist-sector employees - a prime stability-prizing demographic - expressing disappointment that former Mubarak intelligence chief Omar Suleiman did not run for president.

Some revolution-minded Egyptians have accepted the arrival of felool in the square, and some never will. Egypt's ego-driven political scene means compromise between the various currents is unlikely, and I'd bet many still see Morsi as preferable to Shafik. Yet Morsi's decrees and their arguably sloppy roll out have succeeded in doing to the opposition what it desperately wanted  to do for itself before the presidential elections - unite.