The president, with his impulse ever to try to look in the center of things, seems to have given Boehner the lever he needs. For now Boehner can say to the holdouts: Either you’re going to have our plan or theirs. If we pass ours, they get the blame and they have to come closer to us. If you vote against this, you’re voting, in effect for their plan, and establishing at the same time that the Republican majority in the House cannot govern. It would be a confession of impotence — and a ceding of power to Obama. And yet his intervention can only be seen as a mark of his desperation — of his need to cut off the Republican plan while the Republicans hold back, divided and unresolved. It’s all in our hands now, and to take a line from Lincoln we could say to the holdouts: May the future not lament your failure to do now what is in your grasp.