Court Intrigue (The Neverending Story)
I think Beltway Dems really believe that the only way to beat Republicans anymore is to give the GOP enough rope to hang itself with, and not seriously fight for anything -- unless perhaps if all Democrats have their back, as with Social Security. It worked in '06 and it almost worked in '04; I'm not saying it's the best way to go necessarily, but I can see where the suits who run things look to '04 and '06 as evidence that supports staying the DLC course.
It's going to take a little while to develop Dems who've come of age in this recent netroots era, people who are not as tainted by Dem losses of the past as the current group of Dem power brokers. Unfortunately if we keep electing authoritarian Republican types, there'll be corporate counterforces that may well keep the "new progressives" from ever realizing their potential.
Dems seem overly cautious about running hard at the GOP, even though Dear Leader is at 25-30%, because the MSM doesn't treat Bush as if he's at that level of unpopularity. (It doesn't quite treat him like it's 2002 or 2004 either, but it cuts him way more slack than it did Carter or Nixon in their lowest days.)
Beltway Democrats remain afraid of the MSM's power to create a reality (Big Rudy! Big Karl! Bitchy Hillary! Warrior Emeritus Dubya!) that will make people discount their dislike of Bush and vote Republican anyway. So they compromise and/or wimp out, fearing the wrath of the media.
I know this fear doesn't make as much sense, in these days of exciting Internet counternarrative possibilities, as it did in 2002, but Beltway Dems of course are generally slow on the uptake, being insular and pampered by Village culture.
There were increases in the youth vote, in both 2004 and 2006, and young adults voted large for Kerry in '04. That's a hopeful sign that, with competent GOTV, continued increases might help the Dem nominee. I think Hillary does connect to this bloc in a kind of effective PTA President Mom kind of way, and Obama and Edwards also can connect well with young adults.
Young adults, as well as women, remember that bad economic things seemed so competently avoided in the Clintons' day.
The oldest of the 18-24 group graduated from high school in 2001 or so, and spent their entire teenage years in Clintonland. So while they may have been distracted, they weren't blind to the big picture of societal prosperity.
Dems might win in '08, but I'm more aware than I was as a younger man as to what limited amount will have been won. Because I suspect that the most impactful difference anymore between Dems and Repubs is that Democrats represent a slow descent into virtual serfdom for the have-nots, and Republicans (if they get their way) represent a quick descent.
If this is indeed true, then as a man without a third party and one who can no longer trust the Dem leadership to have my back over the long haul, then of course I prefer the slow descent -- which hopefully features enough petit bourgeois distractions and painkillers that I can look back and say I at least tasted some pleasure along the way.
Perhaps the only thing I can wager on as a free progressive anymore, is that corporations may support me in my desire for slow descent, keeping the pendulum from swinging too far Republican during my lifetime, as long as I remain a useful consumer, supporting the larger power game with my tax dollars and material purchases and my lack of any real resistance.