Sunday, the president admitted to Steve Kroft of CBS that the health reform law now known in the vernacular as Obamacare wasn’t really Obamacare after all. It was actually a Republican plan—something we’ve been saying for quite some time

Obama revealed that the plan—complete with a requirement that everyone carry health insurance, subsidies for people who can’t afford it, tax penalties for not buying it, and making people responsible for more of their medical costs—was a GOP baby that has now grown up. Said Obama:

We thought that if we shaped a bill that wasn’t that different from bills that had previously been introduced by Republicans, including a Republican governor in Massachusetts who’s now running for president, we would be able to find some common ground there. And we just couldn’t.

Obama & co. didn’t count on a stubborn and united opposition, who saw campaign gold in turning the tables on the president, in effect repudiating their own ideas. Too bad Obama didn’t make these points earlier, so the public and the press could have figured out what reform was about and been able to put the Republican challenges in perspective. The press, we know, waits for the pols before they report something, and this time Obama waited a mite too long. But he might get another chance. Is Obama’s belated characterization hinting at a possible storyline for the 2012 presidential race?

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Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.