Jonah Goldberg

Others say agendas aren't that useful anyway. "People said, 'You can't beat something with nothing,'" House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told the Times, even though Democrats did exactly that on Social Security. "I feel very confident about where we are," she assured the paper.

And all this happened by Wednesday - and leaves out Jimmy Carter's shabby and even mildly ghoulish exploitation of Coretta Scott King's funeral.

"A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, but then fail all the more completely because he drinks," George Orwell once observed. This seems to capture nicely the dynamic of the Democrats' shame spiral. Success in politics is measured by winning elections. On this score, Democrats have been failures for a while now. In response, they're getting drunk on a brew of partisanship and Bush-hating.

It is amazing how obvious - OK, even trite - is the Democratic plight. Democrats need the money and energy of their "progressive," blog-addicted base, but in order to get it, they turn off mainstream voters. In other words, they can't get escape velocity.

Clinton's Wal-Mart refund is a perfect illustration not merely of her hypocrisy but of the quicksand she is now in. She thinks it's a winning message to say she's too good for Wal-Mart's money but not Hollywood's. That's not exactly red-state savvy.

Obama allowed himself to be seduced by the elixir of Democratic self-righteousness at the expense of making real headway on lobbying reform and hitching his wagon to the most popular politician in America.

And Pelosi has become enamored with the idea that one needn't be for anything, as long as one is opposed to Bush. No doubt that's the feedback she's getting in her echo chamber.

In the Senate, Minority Leader Harry Reid has infuriated Republican moderates such as Arlen Specter more than GOP conservatives by obstructing legislation and hurling partisan insults. This is exactly the opposite strategy required for clawing out of the hole the Democrats are in. But anti-Republicanism trumps everything. And that's a road map for the Democrats to go ever deeper into the wilderness.

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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