Only two Democrats have won the oval office since LBJ. Both were Southerners who campaigned as moderates. Jimmy Carter, a born-again Christian, lost his re-election bid in part because he seemed to break his promise to be a moderate (and partly because he was "history's greatest monster" - if you are a devotee of the Simpsons). In 1992 Gov. Bill Clinton also ran as a moderate on abortion, crime, the death penalty and welfare. He even criticized the rapper Sista Souljah - which infuriated Jesse Jackson, now comfortably wearing suits, paid for with corporate shakedowns. When Clinton was elected, he governed from the left - Hillary Care, gays in the military, etc. - and the American public elected a Republican Congress to punish him.
And, because the one thing we know Bill Clinton likes more than interns is being president, he suddenly tacked back to the center and basically stayed there for the rest of his administration.
There's a reason, as George Will recently noted, that "by Jan. 20, 2009, all the elected presidents for 44 consecutive years will have come from three Southern states - Texas, Arkansas, Georgia - and Southern California." America is simply a more conservative country than the leaders of the Democratic Party and the editors of the New York Times wish it to be. More than one out of five voters said that "moral issues" were the No. 1 reason they were voting for their candidate, and for four out of five of them their candidate was Bush.
The day after the election, a writer for the liberal journal The Washington Monthly declared that Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle's defeat proves "it is clear that Senate Democrats simply cannot afford to have a leader who hails from a hardcore red state." The analysis was fair. Daschle was indeed hindered by the fact that he was from a conservative state while he was leading a liberal party. At home he said abortion is an "abomination," but in Washington he was writing fundraising letters for NARAL. At home he was running ads showing him hugging George W. Bush. In Washington he was making Bush's life miserable.
The problem, however, is that if you follow such advice you reinforce all of the Democratic Party's problems. Like the man who thinks himself a failure, redoubling your commitment to the politics which caused your failure only guarantees even greater failure.