One other point on the public option: This has been a complete and utter failure of White House leadership. They need to give this effort their support, or they need to kill it by publicly stating their opposition. But they can't simply wait for someone else to make the decision for them, which has been their strategy until now.

If the White House decides that reviving the public option is a good idea, there's reason to believe the Senate would follow them on that. It would make some sense, after all: The public option is popular, its death was partly the product of industry pressure, and the sudden spate of high-profile rate increases offers a nice rhetorical pivot for anyone who wants to argue that individuals should be able to choose an insurer who's not a profit-hungry beast. Plus, Democrats need an excited base going into the 2010 election, and this may be the only way to get it.

If the White House decides to stick with the effort to look like hopeful bipartisans in the face of Republican opposition, that would make sense, too. The sell on reconciliation is that it's a few final tweaks to a bill that has already passed. The White House's health-care proposal reflected that theory. Resuscitating the public option is a very different play: It's a big change rather than a small tweak, and it's a polarizing decision after weeks of rhetoric emphasizing comity...

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