Though a political victory is a must for the Obama presidency, those who are invested ideologically in the promise of government-run health care understand that even a small victory today can be an enduring one.
Once Washington gains a toehold -- and considering government controls 49 cents on every health care dollar spent, by "toehold" I mean "bearhug" -- it is an inescapable reality that whatever it comes up with will be expansive and expensive.
That's the message Pelosi was telegraphing to her allies when -- in addition to pointing out how itty-bitty the bill will be -- she added that it will be "big enough" to put the country on a "path" toward sustainable health care reform.
The righteous "path," naturally, ends at the gates of a single-payer system. The infrastructure to reach this objective -- price controls, new entitlements and wide-ranging mandates -- will be set in place once Democrats use reconciliation to pass the bill, deal with the short-term electoral consequences and let history work itself out.
"Don't be fooled," Harsanyi cautions. "The endgame has not changed."