Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi had a problem with the country’s judges, who came to office under former dictator Hosni Mubarak and who he feared were going to shut down the assembly that is drafting a new constitution.
But when he asserted vast new powers to prevent that, he found that his solution created another, equally formidable problem: an eruption of opposition among Egyptians who said he was becoming “a new pharaoh.” By Monday evening, it appeared that Morsi was starting to hear them.
The wave of protests that greeted his decree raised the worrisome possibility that Egyptian politics would grow more polarized and unpredictable, scaring off investors and impeding the economic revival the country so desperately needs. But it is largely for the better, not the worse. The people of Egypt have asserted that they didn’t topple a dictator only to tamely cede unbounded authority to a new ruler.