To put it another way: whether Obama gets Afghanistan right matters for many reasons, but its impact on his presidency is among the least important of them. The outcome of the health care debate matters to the president’s political legacy, but it matters much more, in the aggregate, to Americans who need health care they can afford. And that’s the reality that gets obscured when the press goes searching for pivotal moments.

Greg Marx is a CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @gregamarx.