Chief among the many takeaways is a valuable reminder that not all Americans -- indeed, relatively few -- are ideologues who care more about abstractions like "big government" than they do about employment levels and jobs.
I care deeply about those abstractions. So do most of this blog's readers. But regular, every day, not-overly-political Americans? Not so much.
If the "stimulus" had worked, many Americans wouldn't necessarily be opposed to it. The problem isn't that it was a big government boondoggle, from this perspective -- it's that it didn't do what it was supposed to do.
Most Americans care more about results than political theories. Ms. Rabinowitz is right -- any successful challenger is going to have to speak calmly and sensibly about structural changes to our government and entitlement systems without sounding like a scary, heavy-breathing ideologue. Otherwise, in the public mind, our candidate will run the risk of becoming the mirror image of the Obamaniacs -- who refused to let the last crisis "go to waste" and used it to shove ideology down a reluctant public's throat -- and President Obama's cynical "status quo" approach will prevail.