From reporting I’ve read, Rahm Emanuel did not want to tackle health care at all. He wanted to focus on jobs. That was a recomendation that didn’t sit well with progressives, and they criticized Emaunel for it incessantly. But, now that the midterms turned out not to go well for the Democrats, suddenly it is fashionable for progressive critics to take Emauel’s side of the argument.

Health care reform remains at the root of this chaos. Obama has never explained why a second-tier priority for him in the 2008 campaign leapt to the top of his must-do list in March 2009. For much of the subsequent year spent fighting over it, he still failed to pick up the narrative thread. He delayed so long in specifying his own priorities for the bill that his opponents filled the vacuum for him, making fictions like “death panels” stick while he waited naïvely for bipartisanship to prevail. In 2010, Obama and most Democrats completed their transformation of a victory into a defeat by running away from their signature achievement altogether.

Here’s a new rule. If you were angry with Rahm for not having his heart in the fight for health care reform, then you can’t criticize the president for ignoring his advice.

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