SCOT LEHIGH Democrats were euphoric as Obama signed the nations new health care law yesterday, and with good reason. Yes indeed. The US is finally on its way to near universal health coverage. And a president whom conservative talking heads deride and sinking fast has just secured a historic accomplishment. When Massachusetts shocked the nation by sending Scott Brown to the US Senate, Republicans thought they had thwarted Obamas health care hopes. Certainly, it wasnt just their 60th Senate vote that Democrats had lost. They had also surrendered control of the narrative, with unseemly legislative sausage-making obscuring the larger health care issues. After Browns victory, however, Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and congressional Democrats doubled down and found a way to move forward despite the setback. But though Democrats have won the immediate legislative struggle, they havent yet prevailed in the larger war for national opinion. With the tea partiers fuming with anti-government fury, conservative state officials thumping hoary states rights tubs, Republican congressfolk and presidential hopefuls vowing repeal, and former GOP standard-bearer McCain threatening an extended senatorial sulk, the public battle promises to rage on. To win the broader victory needed to secure the law, Democrats need to wage a full-scale persuasion campaign. That means repeatedly reminding people of the protections and benefits the new law will bring them. It also means defending the law against hyperbolic attacks from those who see superheated opposition as their path back to political power. As Obama showed in the last few weeks, he is eminently capable of that. His task should be made easier by the way opponents have approached health care reform. From the start, they have thrown any stone within reach at the legislation. The sillier of the conservative TV and radio types have denounced it as a headlong plunge into socialism. Elected Republicans, meanwhile, have regularly decried it as a government takeover of health care, an unaffordable, deficit swelling boondoggle that will propel the country down the path to ruin. The bill isnt any of those things. Its liberalism, to be sure. But socialism? Only if one doesnt know what the word signifies. The charge of a government takeover of health care would be true if the law established a single-payer system. It doesnt. Why, it doesnt even include the robust public option liberals had wanted. As for cost, the Congressional Budget Office found the law will actually help reduce the 10-year deficit. And though opponents insist thats only because costs are back loaded, the CBO says the measure would also cut the deficit significantly in its second decade, thereby giving the lie to that charge. Dont expect inconvenient facts to impede its opponents, however. Having once hoped to inflict a Waterloo-like low on Obama by scuttling health care reform, they are now intent on turning his March success into November defeat. And yet, with a specific law for Democrats to defend, that will prove harder than the GOP thinks; a critique based on caricature and scare tactics usually grows weaker in the face of well-presented facts. Further, as soon as the corrective reconciliation legislation passes the Senate, the worst of the off putting special deals will be gone. Meanwhile, most major pieces of the law, and particularly the protections against insurance company abuses, poll well with the public. Its no coincidence that Obama highlighted some of those in signing the law yesterday. We think we will win on the actual specifics in the bill, said US Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts. The bet here is that Markey is right - provided the president stays on the offensive as salesman-in-chief for the landmark new law. Boston Globe