Universal health care champion Ezra Klein hammers Obama for his non-universal health care plan, saying Obama is actually "setting back the cause of reform" with a plan that doesn't include mandates. Ezra's beef is partly policy-based. But it's also partly that Obama is making
a huge political error. You'll lose support on the left, won't gain any on the right, and will give opponents an easy way to attack your plan. "We're spending all this and we're still leaving 20 million uninsured? Typical liberal efficiency, I guess."
Ezra spends more time thinking about health care politics than I do. But my hunch is that Hillary's plan is by far the easier one to demagogue. The notion that liberals will "force us to spend money on something we don't want" is an incredibly easy and winning theme for the Limbaughs of the world. And it has an enormous resonance with the right's libertarian anti-government streak. Would Obama really lose so much support on the left--will liberals just walk away from his plan if he's president?--as to outweigh diminished opposition from the right? I doubt it.
P.S. Admittedly, the right is never going to give any Democratic plan a pass. But I think "Nurse Ratched is dictating how we live!" makes for an easier refrain than, "We're spending all this and we're still leaving 20 million uninsured?"