For all those who just can't let go of their pessimism (Larry) or just think that democrat's are helpless babes (Erin) I highly recommend Not as Lame as You Think by Amy Sullivan, which makes a pretty good case that the Donkey are learning to use their teeth. Case in point - Bush's social security privatization program didn't just die on its own. It was murdered:
Most of the press corps expected the debate to be a painful defeat for Democrats. Not only were moderates predicted to jump ship and join with Republicans to support the president's plan, but Social Security-one of the foundational blocks of the New Deal social compact-would be irrevocably changed. But then a funny thing happened. Reid and Pelosi managed to keep the members of their caucuses united in opposition. Day after day they launched coordinated attacks on Bush's "risky" proposal. Without a single Democrat willing to sign on and give a bipartisanship veneer of credibility, the private accounts plan slowly came to be seen by voters for what it was: another piece of GOP flimflam.
As the privatization ship began sinking, Republicans challenged Democrats to develop their own plan, and when none was forthcoming, pundits whacked the minority party for being without ideas. But not putting forth a plan was the plan. It meant that once the bottom fell out on public support for Bush's effort which it did by early summer Democrats couldn't be pressured to work with Republicans to form a compromise proposal. It was a brilliant tactical maneuver that resulted in a defeat at least as decisive as the Republicans' successful effort to kill Clinton's health-care plan.
And now the immigration debate has blown up in the streets for the GOP. Now I have typically been pretty down on the effectiveness of street protests, but the sheer numbers of people who have come out are making everyone take notice.