From a NY Times 'news analysis':
Even some of the president’s closest advisers said they were surprised by the ferocity of the Republican opposition.
"It’s kind of a stunning thing to watch the way this has unfolded, at least to date," said David Axelrod, one of Mr. Obama’s longtime advisers. "The question is, how do you break free from these strident voices?"
It's kind of a stunning thing to read, especially from one of the president's closest advisers. The answer is, you break free. You break free.
You don't negotiate with blackmailers and kidnappers; you don't retreat from a nomination fight in a fog of intimidation; you don't abandon another potential nominee to a gathering storm of neoconservative malice; you don't appoint a cool-headed task force to ponder a red-hot problem; and you don't bewilder the populace just before a holiday respite by insisting you've every intention of meeting the lunatics and their ever-ballooning lunatic demands "halfway."
You break free by not budging.
You break free by backchanneled communications if necessary with loyalist sympathizers--otherwise known as genuine conservatives--inside the radicals' congressional camp.
You break free by flooding the airwaves with spokespersons and surrogates carrying the manifold message that you'll by-God fight for a second-term cabinet of your own free choice; that without a day lost you'll fight for the safety of America's children--no matter the political expense; and that you'll fight to reestablish fiscal sanity--not a half-sane policy, not a mostly sane policy, but an entirely and expertly sane policy, because 1) it's what you campaigned on and 2) well, it's the sane thing to do.
You break free by explaining and re-explaining and then explaining again to the American electorate precisely what former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle explained to the Times: "I worry that it’s going to take [a true crisis] to bring people to the reality that they can’t mess around here anymore."
And then you explain that you're fucking through messing around.