One may read Mr. Douthat's article here. I'm sure he's a nice guy, but he doesn't get it.
I don't believe that "just passing something" of a healthcare bill will be a positive. The downward spiral in Obama's poll numbers & the amazing rise in grassroots activism demonstrated by the TEA Parties & the 9-12 rallies is not about a single issue - it's about the cornucopia of statist-left proposals coming from the Congressional Democrats & Obama White House. Try as the left will to deceive, it's not activism created from whole cloth by some shadowy right-wing community organizer - it's real, & as grassroots as can be.
Douthat calls the Contract with America "a model of center-right incrementalism." He's right on that, however I believe he diminishes the power it had & what it really was. It was crafted on conservative Republican principles & values, & held true to these. The US is still a center-right country, & the majority of votes want leaders who lead from the center-right conservative Republican platform. We want leaders who are not afraid to call a repeated, thoroughly debunked untruth a lie. We want also solutions which will work, & these solutions will come from conservative Republican ideals & principles.
Mr. Douthat's writing appears to champion "compromise," which is now seen as Republicans acquiescing to what the Democrats want to do - just maybe not "as bad." This is certainly not what the active base of the Party wants, nor those "regular" people, the extraordinary ordinary citizens who have come out in the tens of thousands around the country want. We want the harmful proposals stopped & good, working solutions implemented. The tepidness in Mr. Douthat's approach would only serve to ensconce the Republican party as a mostly ineffective minority - now what we want & need.