* The batttle over Medicare shows we don’t live in Tea Party Nation, after all:

The debate over Kathy Hochul’s upset win in a conservative New York district has focused almost entirely on whether Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan or the third party candidate was the primary factor in the GOP defeat. But what if it constituted a rejection of the broader fiscal worldview Republicans have been pushing relentlessly since they took back the House in 2010?

E.J. Dionne makes that case this morning. He reminds us that Hochul’s “most effective ad argued that Ryan was cutting Medicare while promoting tax cuts for the wealthy.” And he postulates that the election disproves the notion that conservative anti-government rhetoric reflects ”the popular will.”

As NY-26 and the unexpected national support for public employees in Wisconsin have demonstated, the 2010 elections didn’t represent a permanent victory for the conservative fiscal vision. Dems have reacted to NY-26 by vowing to keep hammering away at Medicare. But one wonders if the events of the moment shouldn’t also persuade Dems to more aggressively engage a larger argument — one over the proper role of government and the safety net, over fair taxation, and over our values and priorities and the kind of society we want. Turns out this isn’t Tea Party Nation, after all.

* It’s about values and priorities: Or, as Joe Klein puts it in his interesting take on NY-26:

If we really believe that providing no-fuss medical care for the elderly is the humane and proper thing for a civilized society to do — and the vast majority of Americans agree with that statement — then we can raise taxes to pay for it.

* Dems keep up pressure on Senate GOP on Medicare: Dems are releasing a new web video featuring footage of Senate Republicans praising Ryancare and slamming it for hiking seniors’ health care costs — a sign Dems are determined to keep up momentum after NY-26 and the overwhelming Senate GOP vote for Ryancare yesterday.

* But it’s still unclear how much Dems are willing to give away: As David Dayen notes, there are still plenty of signs emerging from deficit reduction talks that Dems will agree to a plan that shifts costs to seniors.

* The GOP response: Where’s the Dem plan on Medicare? All sings are that Repubicans will stick with Ryan’s plan. They will do so by making the case that they are the ones showing leadership by grappling with the entitlements problem — unlike Dems, who won’t offer their own plan — at a time when Medicare and Social Security are projected to be insolvent sooner than expected.

* Ryan unchastened by yesterday’s results: Relatedly, Ryan is now doubling down by arguing that his plan should be part of debt ceiling talks and that Dems need to put their plan on the table. And the NY-26 loss should not lead Republicans to let up on Medicare: “This is not the time to go wobbly.”

* Republicans say the problem was messaging: Some House Republicans think the problem with the Ryan plan is the sales pitch, and not the product itself.

* Ryan gets a taste of his own demagoguery: Ryan may be complaining that Dems are demagoguing him on Medicare, but Dana Milbank digs into the record and reminds us that Ryan demagogued relentlessly on Obamacare, calling it “rationing” and a “government takeover” and even winking at the death panel lie.

* NY-26 win was all about Medicare: Mark Blumenthal dives deep into the polling numbers and concludes that revved-up Dem turnout shows Medicare was a major factor and provides Dems with a potent message to crank up Dem enthusiasm going forward.

* Conservatives won't let any Republicans cut Ryancare loose: Grover Norquist doubles down: He vows to train a new generation of GOP activists to deliver the same speech Ryan has been giving about Medicare.

* The five things that worry the White House most about reelection: Marc Ambinder channels the thinking of Obama advisers on why his reelect is anything but a sure thing.

Cliff notes version: Obama needs to create the impression that he’s restoring equilibrium internationally even as he winds down two wars, while hoping that the economy cooperates by easing the pain on ordinary people at home.

* Romney and the auto bailout, ctd: Kevin Drum digs up a doosy of a quote from Mitt Romney about the now-successful auto bailout in 2009:

“What is proposed is even worse than bankruptcy — it would make GM the living dead.”

Maybe not so much.

* T-Paw’s truthiness strategy, ctd.: It’s hard to see how Tim Pawlenty will be able to maintain his posture as the 2012 GOP primary’s truth-teller when independent fact-checkers keep concluding that he trafficks in distortions, exaggerations and falsehoods.

* And the phony right-wing astroturfing of the day: The American Action Network, which spent millions against Dems in 2010 and claimed it was funded by the grassroots, was funded entirely by only 11 checks from wealthy donors.

What else is happening?