Score Points!

You might think there was nothing left to be said about Ruth Marcus' crazy SOTU column (see Klein, Drum, Cohn, etc.) but you'd be wrong. Marcus argues that "Democrats -- if they care more about addressing health-care needs than scoring political points -- ought to be finding ways to improve and build on the Bush proposal, not condemning and mischaracterizing it." As others have noted, there's really no reason to think that's true.

The deeper point -- one that cuts closer to the unique dementia of the permanent pundit class in Washington -- is that even were Democrats to genuinely face a zero-sum choice on this issue scoring political points would be the right choice. Most Americans, like virtually all Democrats, define the "health insurance problem" in the United States as consisting of the fact that many Americans have no health insurance, others have too little health insurance, and others find paying for their health insurance to be extremely burdensome. The Bush administration, by contrast, defines the problem as many Americans having too much health insurance and therefore using too many health resources.

Under the circumstances, insofar as you agree with Democrats about what the health insurance problem is, a big part of the problem is the Bush administration. The only way to make progress on the problem is to replace the Bush administration with one that has the correct view of what the problem is. Scoring political points is the way to do that.