There are many theories about the import of Scott Brown’s upset victory in the race for Edward Kennedy’s former Senate seat. To our minds, it is not remotely a verdict on Mr. Obama’s presidency, nor does it amount to a national referendum on health care reform — even though it has upended the effort to pass a reform bill, which Mr. Obama made the centerpiece of his first year…

The Democrats had an exceptionally weak candidate in Massachusetts, but the results call into question their tactical political competence. The party now has less than 10 months to get it right before the midterm elections, when they are in danger of losing more seats in the House and the Senate. It is indisputable that the Republicans have settled on a tactic of obstruction, disinformation and fear-mongering, but it is equally indisputable that the Democrats have not countered it well…

We admire Mr. Obama’s intelligence and the careful way he makes decisions. It is reported that he seeks out dissenting views doggedly. He tells Americans the truth. We don’t want Mr. Obama to turn into a hot populist, but he can be too cool and often waits too long to react at big moments. If White House reporters are still making jokes two years from now about checking the president’s pulse, the nation will be in big trouble.