Jonathan Weisman at the New York Times looks at the GOP’s rock-and-a-hard-place prospects:
President Obama’s aggressive Inaugural Address on Monday presented Congressional Republicans with a stark choice over the next two years: accommodate the president’s agenda on immigration, guns, energy and social programs and hope to take the liberal edge off issues dictated by the White House, or dig in as the last bulwark against a re-elected Democratic president and accept the political risks of that hard-line stance.
… [E]ven among some staunch conservatives, Mr. Obama’s inauguration could be ushering in a more pragmatic tone — if not necessarily a shift in beliefs. From the stimulus to the health care law to showdowns over taxes and spending, Republicans have often found that their uncompromising stands simply left them on the sidelines, unable to have an impact on legislation and unable to alter it much once it passed.
… “We’re too outnumbered to govern, to set policy,” said Representative John Fleming, a Louisiana Republican who has taken confrontational postures in the past. “But we can shape policy as the loyal opposition.”
The new approach has already produced results. In proposing to hold off a debt limit showdown for three months in return for the Senate producing a budget, House Republicans essentially maneuvered Senate Democrats into agreeing to draw up a spending plan, something they have avoided for three years.