Looking back, this must have been the White House health-care strategy:
Health care as a subject is extraordinarily sticky, messy and confusing. It's inherently complicated, and it's personal. There are land mines all over the place. Don't make the mistake the Clintons made and create a plan that gets picked apart, shot down, and injures the standing of the president. Instead, push it off on Congress. Let them come up with a dozen plans. It will keep them busy. It will convince them yet again of their importance and autonomy. It will allow them to vent, and perhaps even exhaust, their animal spirits. Various items and elements within each bill will get picked off by the public. Fine, that's to be expected. The bills may in fact yield a target-rich environment. Fine again. Maybe health care's foes will get lost in the din and run out of ammo. Maybe they'll exhaust their animal spirits, too.
Summer will pass, the fight confined to the public versus Congress. And at the end, in the fall, the beauty part: The president swoops in and saves the day, forcing together an ultimate and more moderate plan that doesn't contain the more controversial elements but does constitute a successful first step toward universal health care.
That's not what happened.
All in all, a great column but I think Ms. Noonan is off a bit on timing. Obama did not expect this legislative push to last through summer. He expected that, as with everything else he's managed to push through, this one would sail through as well. Has he had a legislative defeat other than cap-and-trade? Obama, the junior Senator from Illinois, didn't have enough legislative experience to know what the limits were and what they were not. He never gained consensus on a bill to get it through. He never had a major legislative achievement as a Senator. He honestly believed he could push through anything he wanted to with a filibuster proof majority because he has the self-confidence of a Navy SEAL without any of the civilian-version experience.