[It] won't be a mistake by Barack Obama or by the current Democrats in Congress; it would be a long-term mistake by Democrats for over half a century. Complaints, such as those by Charles Cook and Dana Milbank treat the attempt to pass comprehensive health care reform as a choice made by Barack Obama sometime after January 20, 2009. But that's not right at all. Barack Obama ran on health care reform. It wasn't incidental to his election; it was absolutely essential.
Not, to be sure, to the general election campaign, but to his nomination in the first place. Without a firm commitment to health care reform, Barack Obama would have folded his tent immediately after the Iowa caucuses, if he had even managed to make it that far in the first place. Democrats demanded it. And the idea that Obama would have had a thriving presidency if he had dropped the key part of his nomination platform for no good reason is preposterous.
Yglesias also counters Cook.