Douthat admits there is "plenty in the [Paul Ryan] plan for liberals to hate, moderates to doubt, and conservatives to question" but he nevertheless sees it as an important gambit:
George W. Bush touched the third rail of American politics with his Social Security gambit, and lived to regret it. With their proposal to transform Medicare from an open-ended entitlement to a system that provides support for seniors’ premiums, Ryan and the Republicans are reaching out and grabbing it with both hands. In the process, they are being brutally honest with the American people, in ways that the Obama White House has repeatedly refused to be, about the scale of the deficit challenge and the scope of the reforms needed to address it.
I think the Ryan plan needs work along these lines. But I'm on Ross's side with this. Obama's running away from his own commission was, in my view, a mistake. But he does have a chance now to respond constructively to Ryan, especially since it seems likely the GOP will still control the House after 2012.