This won't come as surprising news to anyone who reads this blog regularly, but if you can't flog a hobbyhorse on a blog, where can you flog it? So here it is: Pew Research is the latest to survey Americans and find that the Republican base really, really doesn't like compromise:
Among those who have heard at least a little about the super committee, there is broad support for compromise: 65% say lawmakers who share their views on the budget deficit should be willing to compromise, even if it results in a deal they disagree with....[But] there continue to be wide partisan differences in views of compromise. Among those who have heard at least a little about the super committee, 74% of Democrats and 67% of independents support compromise, compared with 52% of Republicans.
Once again, then: this explains most of what you need to know about modern American politics. Republican politicians refuse to compromise because that's what their base rewards them for. Conversely, Democratic politicians support compromise because that's what their base rewards them for.
Always keep this in mind when you're tearing your hair out trying to make sense of what's going on in Washington DC. Sometimes politicians aren't quite as mysterious or bumbling as you think. They're just reacting to their incentives, the same as the rest of us.