Greg Sargent relates that subsequent to a White House meeting the word from left-leaning pressure groups is: "[WH officials] expect taxes to go up on the wealthy and to protect Medicare and Medicaid benefits. They feel confident that they don’t have to compromise" (italics mine).
It might be helpful to recall that two of American history's greatest compromisers--Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt--were also, in the principled end, two of American history's greatest immovable objects.
The lesson to be learned from Spielberg's "Lincoln," as virtually every reviewer has emphasized ad nauseam, is that of the 16th president's extraordinary capacity for difficult compromise. And that of course is true enough. Yet there's another lesson--or straightforward fact of history, if one prefers--that runs just underneath the film's surface message and should not be overlooked: Lincoln was hellbent on militarily clobbering the South into total submission; there would be no eleventh-hour, life-saving, peace-securing "deal" suggesting anything but the Confederacy's unmitigated defeat. On that, Lincoln simply would not budge.
Similarly, Roosevelt--whose New Deal programs were marbled monuments to faction-infuriating compromise--shocked the Allied leadership and more than a few of its generals with his 1943 demand for the Axis Powers' "unconditional surrender." No talks, no negotiations, no deal, which, by shortening the war's duration, might well have saved millions of lives. Roosevelt, though, stood on pure principle--and history has judged him correct.
I've taken some tee-heeing criticism in the past for comparing Obama's presidential style and potential greatness to those of Lincoln and Roosevelt. Perhaps some of the criticism is justified. We can't yet know. But, should we reverse the Clausewitzian maxim--so that politics is but an extension of war by other means--we're about to find out.