Damn, I hate compromising with these wingnuts

I met Obama once – when he was a candidate for president. On learning that I was editor of the Nation, he said to me, “The perfect is the enemy of good.” Perhaps he expected me to disagree. I don’t.

I don’t disagree with the need to find balance, the need, at times, to compromise on policy. What I disagree with – and what I will never shy away from criticizing the president for – is his willingness to compromise on principle. Real leadership might require compromise, but it cannot be defined by compromise…

These next two years present a daunting challenge. Once the new Congress is sworn in, any legislative movement forward on the progressive agenda (if any is possible) will require some form of compromise with an increasingly loathsome opposition. This is not a reality lost on any of us. But if reaching those compromises means a continued berating of the left, a continued lack of outrage toward the right and a continued willingness to strike deals without defining principles, then in the end, the president may well find himself with a modest list of achievements, a deeply demoralized base and a party that seemingly stands for nothing.