Jonah Goldberg

And for another week, the Democrats managed to hold themselves hostage to, well, themselves.

Item 1 Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, the wunderkind of the Democratic Party who, we've been told, not only transcends race, partisanship and personal ambition but actually sails above such concerns like the Winged Victory of Samothrace, received his first shellacking this week by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

McCain says Obama promised to join in a bipartisan lobbying reform effort but reneged in favor of backing the Democrats' more partisan effort. So McCain - the dashboard saint of bipartisan reform efforts - turned Obama into epistolary roadkill.

In an archly sarcastic letter, McCain apologized for not realizing that Obama was more interested in "self-interested partisan posturing," adding that "I'm embarrassed to admit that after all these years in politics, I failed to interpret your previous assurances as typical rhetorical gloss."

Item 2 Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) returned a campaign contribution from Wal-Mart while gladly pocketing cash from Paul Newman, Reese Witherspoon and other Hollywood liberals. She even took a wad of dough from Jerry Springer, who made his fortune proving that nothing is too vile to broadcast. Clinton served on Wal-Mart's board from 1986 until 1992, and in that time the company was hardly any more "worker-friendly" - to borrow a liberal term - than it is today. It's just a bigger company now, with the same policies she oversaw. When asked if she ever fought for "progressive" policies when she was a director of the company, she replied, "Well, you know, I, that was a long time ago, I have to remember. ..."

Item 3 The New York Times ran a state-of-the-art Democratic self-recrimination story, highlighting the party's inability to make political hay from such supposedly obvious Republican vulnerabilities as Hurricane Katrina and the National Security Agency wiretapping. The article was festooned like a Christmas tree with baubles of self-doubt and ornaments of denial hanging from every branch: The Democrats are frustrated by the party's "tangled" problems and their inability to exploit this "pivotal moment," etc.

Some Democrats are furious that their party doesn't have its own ideas. Others say they do have ideas; they're just keeping them secret for now. That sounds a lot like the high school geek who insists that his girlfriend is really hot but lives in an undisclosed location in Canada.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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