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Health reform's reality vs. its parody

They had better stay on the offensive long after the election, because many Republican candidates for governor and state legislative seats are already promising to undermine the law. This would have the effect of blocking efforts to extend insurance to some 30 million people. Do we really want to back away from that? Shouldn't this be an issue, too?

The truth is that this bill was a first step. There are many health-care battles ahead. If supporters of reform cave during the first round, as Rove is hoping, further progress will be impossible.

Yes, some Democrats in conservative districts voted against the bill and display this as a badge of their independence. But is that any surprise? This is exactly the sort of position moderate Republicans (when they existed) would take to survive in more liberal districts.

The real test is whether Democrats who supported the bill think they have an interest in defending a genuinely historic accomplishment. More and more, they are deciding that they do.

ejdionne@washpost.com

(For more on Obama's change agenda, read Dana Milbank's "A sadder but wiser Axelrod packs his bags." Harold Meyerson on the Democrats' midterm strategy: "Rallying the two poles of the Democratic base.")


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