My marker for Obama was whether he'd get a health care bill with a public option. He didn't. A year ago passage of some sort of health care reform seemed inevitable, and not a tremendous challenge. Only a year of dithering and bipartisaning and gangs of wankers and pre-compromising and, frankly, failure to put forward something simple and popular jeopardized it.
The bill's more good than bad, but it isn't what we should have gotten. It isn't what we voted for.
I tend to read blogs written by academics, who are verbal and smart and write long, often witty pieces. And about politics, they're almost always wrong. Duncan Black has the best record I know of for any public commentator for always being right.
To add to his summary, which I fully agree with, I'm very glad that we got health care. Many people will have their lives saved by it who otherwise would have died. Many people will have much less miserable lives because they won't get substandard care, or won't have to always worry about where they are going to get medical help for themselves or their family members. There is still going to be an immense amount of work improving and maintaining this against various political challenges. (Including the Supreme Court, I'd guess.) But the situation is far, far better having won.
Obama managed to win. That's more important than anything else. There's a lot that would have been unforgivable that is forgivable now that he's actually gotten people health care. At the same time, this illustrates just where his limits are. He gave everything away right up to the point where it would have sunk his political career. Then he saved himself. Everyone else who voted for him, who worked for him, got DFH'd or dealed away or ignored. That happened right down to the end, right down to the Executive Order that got him anti-abortion votes that he probably didn't even need, at the cost of reinforcing the idea that there should be less health care for poor women. That's who he is.
As for the people who opposed health care, who wanted people to die for their own "freedom"? Let the scum whine. They lost. And for the first time since the 1980s in the U.S., there is a good chance that they are going to continue to lose, over and over, and they will never get the racist, theocratic hierarchy that they wanted back.