The Dems' Universal Ailment

All the party's major candidates are thinking big on fixing the broken health care system. How an untouchable issue became the hot topic for 2008

Lionel Hahn / Abaca

Senator Barack Obama responds to a question during a health care forum at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on March 24, 2007.

For Democrats, health careĀ has longĀ been a merciless minefield. Hillary Clinton's disastrous effort to transform the system in her husband's first term nearly cost him the presidency. After that, politicians pretty much stopped talking about the subject except to offer marginal and politically unassailable fixes, like covering more children or requiring insurance companies to accept people with pre-existing health conditions.

Not anymore. Every Democrat in the 2008 presidential field has promised to provide health coverage to all the estimated 47 million Americans who lack it and to curb costs that have sent premiums soaring four times as fast as wages. On March...