As Democrats move ever closer to the magic number of 216, it's unsurprising that the language used to describe the debate has lifted itself out of the depths of mere politics and vaulted into the realm of virtue. Courage is the most essential value. Who is the Antigone -- who built the "dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear," as Martin Luther King put it. For whom has this fight been easy? For whom has it been hard?
Why has Barack Obama risked his presidency for this crusade? Why has he spent more time on this domestic issue than any other president has spent on any other issue in recent memory? Why has he done so despite the manifest public unpopular of the case? The answer opponents will give is some variant of Obama's conviction that he must impose his solution on America no matter the cost, even to him; that his actions are part of a larger crusade; that he cannot legitimize government as an active force for good without government taking over the health care system. (Chicago politics, socialism, Saul Alinsky.) But this argument doesn't track with an argument that opponents have been desperate to make: that health care is not popular now and won't be popular in time to reward Democrats.