It's true that Obama often spoke in transformational terms about the practice of politics. But if you listened to the way he and his campaign discussed policy, it was always clear that they preferred a relatively pragmatic, non-ideological approach to some sweeping progressive vision. Many of us in the press made this point repeatedly during the primary and general-election campaign, so it hardly seems like there was some massive flip-flop on Election Day.
Is the suggestion that it would have been preferable to have failed on health care (an ideologically modest but substantively far-reaching and historically momentous achievement) if that was the price of rallying progressives? I'm guessing Borosage would say it was possible to both rally progressives and pass health care--that, in fact, rallying progressives would have led to a better bill by shifting the debate leftward. And, at the margins, that might have been useful. But the idea that you were going to pass health care without a ton of Washington deal-making is just willfully blind to the realities of policymaking. Whatever the progressive mobilization, there was simply no way to pass a comprehensive bill without defanging the huge array of interests with the power to block it--doctors, hospitals, insurers, device-makers, pharmaceuticial manufacturers, etc., etc. (And the need for 60 votes in the Senate gave these interests even more power than they'd otherwise have.)
And (what I thought was) the summary:
We got the president we voted for--and, what's more, that non-ideological pragmatism was one of the things that really appealed to people after George W. Bush.