The last Democrat who held the White House, Bill Clinton, saw the core of his domestic agenda come to ruin, his political support collapse, and his failure spawn a massive Republican resurgence that made progressive reform impossible for a decade to come. The Democrat who last held the White House before that, Jimmy Carter, saw the exact same thing happen to him.
At this early date, nobody can know whether or not Barack Obama will escape this fate. But the contours of failure are now clearly visible. In Obama's case, as with his predecessors, the prospective culprit is the same: Democrats in Congress, and especially the Senate. At a time when the country desperately needs a coherent response to the array of challenges it faces, the congressional arm of the Democratic Party remains mired in fecklessness, parochialism, and privilege. Obama has made mistakes, as did his predecessors. Yet the constant recurrence of legislative squabbling and drift suggests a deeper problem than any characterological or tactical failures by these presidents: a congressional party that is congenitally unable to govern.
Let me offer this metaphor. See, life looks a lot different when you're a teenager objecting to everything the responsible parent governs; curfew, homework, diet, etc.
But when you get older and strap on the big girl panties, things look quite different.
Just look at the card check shenanigans. When democrats were in the minority, it was easy to squeeze the unions for money on the promise that they'd get it done for them when the democrats were in the majority. Now they have it and they realize what a tremendous job killer this legislation is.
Even lefties like Diane Feinstein are starting to back away from this legislation.
For what it's worth, the same thing holds true for republicans. Around election time they tease us with their conservative diarrhea of the mouth but when they're actually in office you can't find a conservative proposal anywhere, (see John McCain and George Rinovich).
In fact, the worst nightmare for some of the "pro life" republicans is the day the court throws the issue back to the legislature. It will look like cockroaches scattering. See, it's easy to be pro life, there's no down side outside of losing the bra burner vote; and they'll never vote for a republican in the first place.
But how many of these clowns would truly cast a anti abortion vote if they knew it would end abortions?