Well, even many or most REPUBLICANS think the president has a mandate to raise taxes. So that means he does, of course. The election has all the meaning that the president can attach it, and Obama is loading it up in a way that, say, Mr. Ceaser didn’t anticipate.
I’m not saying that raising taxes is the end of the world, and I gladly say that no member of Congress should have signed Norquist’s pledge. But digging in on a principle (even as a bargaining chip) depends on the perception the people are with you, at least some.
As Charley Cooke says, the picture isn’t pretty, especially when you add that the voters also think that the election was a mandate to empower the president to protect entitlements against all cuts. Nobody really believes that taxing the rich a bit more can generate enough revenue to save Medicare, for example, as it is now. But who in his or her right mind wouldn’t want to believe that?