Still, as a matter of forward-looking policy, I think that what's going on here is that in order to stay "onside" in the political debate, a number of moderate conservative commentators are drastically exaggerating the extent of their disagreements with the law. Saying you think Obamacare's increase in taxation of investment income should be rolled back and replaced with more aggressive implementation of the excise tax is a far cry from positing a deep-seated philosophical disagreement with the overall approach. At some point, everyone had to look at the overall legislative package and decide if they were "for" or "against" it, and ever since that moment the debate about the specific elements of the progam has gotten extremely fuzzy and overly polarized.It's true, I definitely think he's right that this happened, but I think he's being too charitable here. Yes, there is definitely an element here of David Brooks playing a side, and so trying to find excuses to denounce Obamacare. This point about how people have generally approached debate on the ACA by taking a side on the whole thing first and then letting that color how they feel about, and argue, each individual piece is I think unquestionably true. There is something of a smart calculus there, though: while nice discussions can be had on the merits of each piece, if you analyze the pieces and then try to argue a position on the whole thing based on those, the "ban on denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions" pieces is going to crowd out everything else, and the anti-Obamacare position is pretty much indefensible on TV if you allow that.
That being said, I'm pretty sure there's also a strong element here of David Brooks not actually knowing what the law does. Coverage and debate of the ACA has really exposed just how little the journalists in our television and newspapers present or even understand the major bills they purport to be discussing. Brooks' misunderstanding here is quite minor compared to the general idiocy we've been subjected to.