It is popular to long for and promise bipartisanship, but harder to carry it out. One should be careful promising anything unilaterally that requires the cooperation of others.

Already columnists and online bloggers are equating bipartisanship, promised by President Obama, as compromising on principles. Republicans are doing their best to shape the economic stimulus bill in the image they have in mind and holding up getting anything passed.

The problem faced by Democrats is one of deciding how much to compromise to move the bill forward and how far is too far.

I think the first step of bipartisanship was reached simply by consulting Republican leadership, hearing the other point of view and responding. Bipartisanship doesn't necessarily mean compromise so much as listening and taking the opposition view into account.

This sounds like little more than show, and it can be, so each person must decide when bipartisanship has been achieved. Therefore we are back to being a divided country. But divisions are good so long as both sides talk openly and give each other room to defend all points of view.