Start with the war and what is behind it. Do Democrats recognize evil as a moral concept, or are they willing to negotiate just about anything in their pursuit of lost power? Can Democrats move beyond multilateralism and the ineffectual United Nations and confront evil, as one of their patron saints, Harry Truman, once did?
Dorgan held up a picture of Harry Truman during a Capitol Hill news conference to announce the hearings. But Truman, who ordered Hiroshima and Nagasaki obliterated with nuclear bombs to end the war with Japan and preserve American lives, is about as far from this Democrat Party as East is from West.
Modern Democrats need to break the grip of MoveOn.org and Michael Moore and prove they can be trusted with the nation's security by saying how they would fight terrorists and whether they could envision pre-emptive strikes against an enemy.
On Social Security, another topic announced for the hearings, Democrats have repeatedly said they favor the current system, which, like Medicare, is headed for bankruptcy - or substantially higher taxes - if present spending trends continue. It is simply not credible to say that Social Security should not be touched.
Education? Democrats say their hearings will focus on the failure of Republicans to fund the No Child Left Behind law, which called for substantial increases in education funding. Here's a way Democrats can break with Republicans and achieve meaningful results: come out for school choice for the poor.
They won't, of course, because that might cost them the teachers unions. But with many public school teachers now placing their own children in private schools, freeing the poor from the prison of failed public schools would rightly earn Democrats the thanks of generations yet to come.
I can't imagine Democrats taking my advice, but if they are interested in making a difference, instead of making trouble for Republicans, they had better break their habit of opposing for opposition's sake.