The best news about the health care bill is that only one Republican voted for it and most moderate Democrats voted against it. Even the few moderate Democrats who were persuaded to push it over the top are saying apologetically that, of course, compromise with the Senate is bound to improve it. It's also good, of course, to see Speaker Pelosi, someone most Americans deeply distrust, gushing about her personal triumph.
What we have here, as with the stimulus package, is a failure of presidential leadership. Obama's deference to Congress has pushed his party too far to the left for its own good, united the Republicans, and pushed independents and moderates in the GOP direction. As Yuval Levin pointed out in NEWSWEEK, the Republicans are now far more united against the president than are the Democrats united with him. The moderates from the swing districts fear losing their jobs. The unapologetic liberals from the safe districts are complaining loudly that our liberal president ain't boldly liberal enough when it comes to both social issues and additional stimulation.
Now the Republicans clearly don't need to moderate themselves to get with the tide of History. They need to distinguish themselves clearly to give a real choice to voters anxious about a tide they don't really remember voting for (although in a way they did). Even genuinely left-of-center moderates don't fear right-of-center, socially conservative candidates at this point. The point now is to elect savvy antidotes to the president and especially Pelosi. Let's hope that this great opportunity--partly the result of unforced errors by our president--brings forward Republican leaders worthy of it.