Chait captures it:
If Douthat is correct about his political premises, both parties had to choose between politics and policy. Democrats could have minimized their losses at the cost of sacrificing the health reform they wanted. Or Republicans could have minimized the scope of health care reform, at the cost of minimizing their potential wave. Democrats chose the best policy, and Republicans chose the best politics. I'm happy with the choice. Mitch McConnell won his election, and Democrats won health care reform. The latter is going to [be] around a lot longer than the former.
I supported Obama precisely because he was about policy more than politics. And his calm reason today was another reason. In the end, I believe policy achievement matters. And that the GOP's greatest problem right now is that they have lost interest in policy - hence their running on ideological abstractions rather than actual proposals. But if the American people reward this, it will keep on happening. And the Morris-Rove era will never end.