Though Republicans undeniably face difficulties, Democrats are ill positioned to capitalize on them because of their own problems, which amount to a veritable identity crisis.
The New York Times reports that while just a year ago senators of both parties said a Supreme Court nominee "who disagreed openly with the major abortion rights precedents" would face nearly insurmountable confirmation hurdles, the Alito hearings "cast doubt on such assumptions."
Why? Because "the handful of Democrats from socially conservative states were reluctant to be perceived as voting against him on those grounds."
Yet, according to a separate Times story, the apparently tone deaf Senate Democratic leaders "urged their members Tuesday to vote against (Alito) in an effort to lay the groundwork for making a campaign issue of his decisions on the court."
So which is it? Is the Democrats' stance on abortion a net plus or minus for them? Do they have a clue anymore?
Democratic strategists James Carville and Paul Begala don't seem to think so. In a book they've co-authored, they reportedly argue that Democrats are in disarray and need to rethink their positions on various issues. According to Newsmax.com, "both authors argue the party needs to change its dogmatic thinking on abortion rights, gun control and environmental concerns."
Indeed, in the very process of trying to paint Judge Alito as "outside the mainstream," Democratic leaders showed how out of touch they are. What Carville and Begala know, but their party leaders, with the exception of Hillary, seem not to have discovered, is that the only time Democrats have won the presidency in the last three decades is when their candidate -- Bill Clinton -- masqueraded as a moderate.
On the other hand, there is some evidence that Democratic leaders have begun to realize their worldview doesn't play as well nationally. Why else would they be reluctant to give us the unvarnished version of what they believe? Why else do they spend all their time demonizing President Bush instead of articulating their own policy agenda?
Their strategy is fraught with problems. While they are trying to expand their smear of Bush to encompass the entire GOP -- "a culture of corruption" -- most of their ammunition since 2000 has been aimed at Bush personally, and neither he nor his vice president will be running again.