With the ongoing stalemate properly perceived as failure, President Obama and House Republicans must start a search for common ground.
It would be a mistake to get too excited, but news reports that President Obama and House Republicans may agree on a framework for budget negotiations is welcome.
So far, neither side is looking particularly good in this political face-off that has resulted in a partial shutdown of the federal government and raised doubts about the country's ability to meet its debt obligations as the nation approaches its debt ceiling.
Make no mistake about it, however. President Obama and House Republicans see the world much differently, and their dispute is much more about policy than politics. Still, it's their obligation to find common ground, and if they can't do so they have failed in their duty.
Although plenty still could go wrong, Republicans may approve temporary funding of the federal government and a small increase in the debt ceiling. In return, Obama has indicated he's willing to negotiate with the GOP about deficits, health care, entitlements and taxes in the hope of reaching a broader, long-range agreement.
Compromise is not a dirty word in the context of our current divided government; it is a necessity. Over the past 10 days, the public has seen what happens when our elected officials refuse to sit down and work out their differences. It hasn't been pretty, and it can't continue. That's why the talk of rapprochement is encouraging.