A Palinesque opposition would probably seize on proposed tax increases or benefit cuts in the plans, accuse Mr. Obama of creating the commission as a gimmick and dismiss the whole exercise as just another waste of the citizens’ money. A more intellectual approach would be to embrace the most conservative option offered by the panel and take it up for debate, in hopes of pressuring the White House into some meaningful compromise.There are a few ways to look at this, really -- and there is little good way to anticipate who might compromise here.
The neoconservative movement was in many ways a conservative movement that was willing to compromise on social issues in order to get what it wanted in foreign policy, which it considered more important. There is little reason to expect the Palin faction -- the Tea Partiers -- to take this path, but it's possible. The Tea Party wing of the new GOP may consider it worthwhile to compromise on, say, military spending, in order to push for lower taxes and perhaps more prayer in schools. That would get them the most meat for their base, while -- if phrased right -- leaving few lines of attack.
Going into the election, I expected that the more a candidate was committed to "first principles" -- say, in the way that Ron Johnson refused to take a specific stance on what items he would cut from a budget -- to be less willing to compromise. Here's Aldous Huxley in Eyeless in Gaza (which is, incidentally, a terrific novel):
There are no large-scale plans in English politics, and hardly any thinking in terms of first principles. With what results? Among others, that English politics have been on the whole very good-natured. The reason is simple. Deal with practical problems as they arise and without reference to first principles; politics are a matter of higgling. Now higglers lose tempers, but don't normally regard each other as fiends in human form. But this is precisely what men of principle and systematic planners can't help doing. A principle is, by definition, right; a plan, for the good of the people. [my emphasis in bold; italics original]Now, Huxley was more concerned here with the political stridency of the Nazis and Communists (although some of my friends on the left might suggest that the problem of the Tea Party is essentially the same), but the quote does have some suggestion for how an opposition based on first principles might behave.
So, might there be any political incentive for Republicans to concede anything to Democrats? Again, maybe.
Certainly the GOP wants to make Obama look as powerless -- and as useless -- as possible. Why concede to a minor spending bill proposed by a Democrat when you can oppose it, either from the Tea Party perspective or from the ideological? The less you allow Obama to do, the more successful you've been as an opposition: these are basic definitions.
But that only takes you so far, and Republicans are now responsible for producing results. And those results will require some measure of Democratic support. That necessarily entails compromise. In order to have something beyond "no" to show for themselves in two years, the GOP may need to say the occasional "yes."