“Trying to hold the president’s feet to the fire is fine, but first we have to win the big argument,” former President Bill Clinton said Thursday at the Netroots Nation convention, a gathering of liberal activists and bloggers who will prove most difficult to convince. “I am pleading with you. It is OK with me if you want to keep everybody honest. . . . But try to keep this thing in the lane of getting something done. We need to pass a bill and move this thing forward.”

“I want us to be mindful we may need to take less than a full loaf,” he said after recounting the political troubles that followed his failed reform effort in 1994.

It won’t be an easy sell. Even former national party chairman Howard Dean this week threatened Democrats who don’t support the public insurance plan with the prospect of primary challenges – the first rumblings of what could devolve into a Democratic civil war over health care…

Asked whether Democrats were still committed to the public plan, one congressional source said, “Democrats can count to 60 and know that what plays in blue states doesn’t always play across America. Everyone has learned the lesson of the failures of Hillarycare and knows that getting health care done is more important than drawing a line in the sand.”