The most politically potent attack on the health-care effort was not on the plan itself. It was the argument that Democrats should have spent less time on this bill and more on job creation. Every moment the Republicans devote to destroying this year’s reform opens them up to exactly the same criticism…

Even in this year’s very conservative electorate, only 18 percent said cutting taxes should be the next Congress’s highest priority. Only 40 percent said the Bush tax cuts should be extended for all, including the wealthy; 51 percent were opposed to this, including 36 percent who favored extending them only to those earning under $250,000 a year (Obama’s position), and 15 percent who opposed extending them at all.

Yes, the moderate, middle-of-the-road position is the one held by the president. Why sell it out?…

Give Republicans credit for this: They don’t chase the center, they try to move it. Democrats can play a loser’s game of scrambling after a center being pushed ever rightward. Or they can stand their ground and show how far their opponents are from moderate, problem-solving governance. Why should Democrats take Republican advice that Republicans themselves would never be foolish enough to follow?