What's the goal here?
There are two sets of opposing principles involved here, and a set of decisions that need to be made. The goal is to decide on a way forward that is good for the country and meets the values of Americans.
Negotiation is not the goal, nor is compromise. If the president and congress reach a compromise that is not good for the country or a deal that doesn't meet the values of Americans, then the process failed.
Of course I am not against compromise or negotiation. But it is a mistake to put them above the ultimate goal, which is a government that works for us.
Obama was elected by promising to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans in a balanced approach. This what we voted for him to do, and it is he responsibility. If compromise will get him there, then he should compromise. If compromise won't let him keep his promise, than he shouldn't compromise. After all, negotiation and compromise are just two of the many tools available to a leader.
Let's look at the state of the fight (and let's not kid ourselves that it is a fight).
1. Obama was just elected in a campaign that featured raising taxes on the wealthy. People voted for him knowing that this is what he would do. Sixty percent of Americans said they wanted him to do this in exit polls.
2. Disagreements in politics are won by whoever has the support of the voters. This is how democracy is supposed to work, it is how government is held accountable.. When this fight heats up, Obama will make his case to the voters. Of course, Boehner et. al. will also get to address the voters. Obama has the upper hand (as Romney/Ryan proved).
3. Obama has a very nice lever. Republicans in the House will face re-election in two years. Obama won't.
4. The Bush tax cuts will expire by themselves if Congress and the President don't agree. The President will push for middle class tax cuts. The Republicans will try to argue that it is the Presidents fault the middle class taxes when up, but since the president will have a bill on the table that cuts middle class taxes, this will be a very difficult argument to make.
I don't see compromise as some magical, or sacred thing. Obama was elected to represent a set of principles for the good of the country. This is his duty.
Right now, Obama has a lot of tools he can use to fulfill his duty.