Maddeningly predictable

Democrats may well blow health care reform … again.

President Obama’s ability to shape the debate on health care appears to be eroding as opponents aggressively portray his overhaul plan as a government takeover that could limit Americans’ ability to choose their doctors and course of treatment, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Americans are concerned that revamping the health care system would reduce the quality of their care, increase their out-of-pocket health costs and tax bills, and limit their options in choosing doctors, treatments and tests, the poll found. The percentage who describe health care costs as a serious threat to the American economy — a central argument made by Mr. Obama — has dropped over the past month.

Ruben Bolling does a masterful job of laying out the basic dynamic here. I’ve mentioned it a time or two myself. But if Democrats do manage to blow this opportunity, at this particular moment in time, then there’s no longer any room for debate: apart from providing a half-assed bulwark against the ever-increasing lunacy of the right, they’re entirely useless.