What is most essential now is creating a "conventional wisdom narrative." Is it going to be that Democrats defied an angry public and rammed this bill through the Congress by manipulating the system -- without a single Republican vote because they were hanging tough? Or is it going to be that Democrats, led by a President who came through like a Commander-in-Chief when the chips were down, can govern after all?
It better be the latter. Because that's something the great American middle will respond to. The next election is on the line and so is 2012 and Democrats need to unite behind that narrative no matter how complex their real feelings -- or they will go down and Obama will be another Carter. Don't relax. Don't think it isn't urgent, it is very urgent. The Republicans are masters of sound-bitable resentment-inducing distortions. They may have lost, but pause for a moment and realize how compelling they made a position that was basically a pack of lies packaged in attitude. And how well they sold it to a public whose interests were directly threatened by it. So there needs to be focused unity around the Democratic narrative starting right now -- and it has to last. Don't let internal qualms and disappointments interfere with that.
Public option gone? Reproductive rights not defended strongly enough? Or too strongly? Big Pharma celebrating -- can that be good?
Forget all that. Just paint the seamless picture, push the seamless story line. When faced with the Republican narrative -- jump right on it. Whiners. Sore losers. Angry and negative. America wants can-do leadership. That's us. We just proved it. That's "us" and not just Obama. It's all Democrats. Even Landrieu and Stupak. Election 2010 is now.
By "conventional wisdom narrative" I mean a default account that gets so entrenched that there's no point in opposing it, even if it isn't strictly accurate. FDR saved the nation from Hoover's depression is an example (forget about WWII boost to the economy). Reagan was the true conservative is another (forget about his tax hikes). That kind of thing.
For once in a blue moon Democrats have a line they can sell that is positive but also, above all, simple. That almost never happens. It's almost always the Republicans who can put their message on a bumper sticker. Now it's the Democrats' turn. Let's not blow it.