"At a time when President Bush's popularity is in the tank, and his fellow Republicans are getting hammered in the polls at the start of a big election year, there is one shiny silver lining for the governing party:
The Democrats are a mess.
Right now they seem ill-poised to score major gains at Bush's expense for several fundamental reasons: They can't agree on what to stand for and what issues to fight for. They seem most adept at fighting each other, with grassroots liberals savaging the Washington moderates - and vice versa. Nor do they have a clue about who should lead them.
Maybe Democrats should change the name of their traditional theme song to "Hapless Days Are Here Again."
That downbeat assessment is endemic among Democrats themselves. As Washington strategist Jenny Backus said the other day: "Right now we're only playing defense. We wince too much when the Republicans punch us. We don't seem to have a strategy for going on offense, can't agree on what fights to pick. There's nothing wrong with having a good food fight [within the party], but at some point, you can't just keep eating your own."
Dan Gerstein, a political consultant and former Democratic Senate aide, said: "Our internal divisions are making us look weak, ineffectual, and unable to lead. At some point, this behavior becomes destructive. We've got to stop if we want to have a chance to win."