But not just any kind of compromise will do. Obama will be fatally weakened in 2012 if he forgets that agreeing merely to slow the continued growth of government will be properly seen as calculated obstruction. Republicans will also be wrong to assume that elections are all-or-nothing propositions. Americans want less spending, less regulation, less government, but they also expect their elected leaders to forge ahead in that effort forcefully and with due regard for the difficulties along the way. That means they must compromise. The measure of how they perform will be the degree to which they accomplish what the people expect them to do, which is to send Washington to the fat farm.