Obama's "Failure"

Some of my friends -- the ones who would probably describe themselves as progressives -- are unhappy this morning. They're complaining over their coffee and Danish about the flaws in the legislative package passed last night, and about the shortcomings of incrementalism as an approach to real change. I respect their passion, but would say this: Last night was more than a legislative moment. It was also, and the implications of this will be deeper and broader than any legislation, a political one. (God help me, this is a part of the argument David Frum made yesterday.) Had the administration been turned back on health care it would have been crippled, probably irreversibly, in its ability to do big things in the areas that still need big things done: Energy, jobs and immigration, to pick just three. Anybody who thinks the recalcitrant, obstructionist fringe that's been driving the Republican car won't dig in like crazy on immigration reform hasn't been paying attention. This morning they have less, maybe a lot less, to dig in with. And Obama has the wind at his back heading into the midterms, and a renewed chance to do everything that still needs doing -- including further fixes to health care, although he probably won't want to lead with that.

Would it have been nice to get it all? Yes. Did the administration make mistakes -- not writing its own bill early on, wasting months on a quixotic, hands-across-America dream of bipartisanship? You bet. But we don't live in a magical, friction-free world, and the opposition to this president has been historically ferocious, cynical and mean. The right guys won yesterday. I'll take that as a start.