For decades, health care reform has been a political holy grail among liberals. After a party-line vote in the Senate early this morning stymied a GOP filibuster attempt, Democrats appear very close to finally achieving that longstanding goal — leaving many commentators wondering whether Republicans misplayed their hand and would have been better off collaborating with Democrats and helping to shape a more moderate bill, rather than just opposing the legislation outright. Should the GOP have played ball? (Watch a report about the Senate moving closer to a health care bill)

The GOP messed up big-time: This health care bill is a "staggering achievement" by the Democrats — but "it never would have happened if the Republican Party had played its cards right," says Jonathan Chait at The New Republic. From the start Dems were "desperate" for a bipartisan bill. "A few GOP defectors could have lured a chunk of Democrats to sign something far more limited than what President Obama is going to sign."
"The Republican healthcare blunder"

They couldn't have done much: It's a nice idea to think that conservatives could have done more to shape the Senate bill, says Ross Douthat at the NY Times. But the GOP "had Democratic centrists to do that work for them"—for instance, "eliminat[ing] the public option." Playing it this way, Republicans get most of same results "without having to vote for the final bill."
"Did the Republicans blunder on Health Care?"

The GOP was tragically indecisive: Republicans went into the health care debate with many advantages, says David Frum at Frum Forum. But the party had trouble deciding whether its main goal was to use government to hold down health care costs, or have government butt out entirely. To appease Tea Party interests, it leaned toward the latter position—but that meant it had to stay on the sidelines. All in all, a costly "miscalculation."
"Why the GOP lost the healthcare fight"