Before I get started, I will take this opportunity to express my deep happiness that all 309 people on board the Airbus that crashed in Toronto today made it off the plane with only minor injuries at worst. Looking at the footage, I didn't see how anyone could've survived, but to see even the captain and co-pilot able to walk off the plane... Being an agnostic, I am unsure about the existence of a god or gods, but I do believe in luck and solid engineering, and a healthy dose of the former and a huge heap of the latter contributed to this crash having a toll that will only be measured in dollars and euros, not lives.
Now on with the show.
Some on other blogs, most notably Various Miseries, have posited that the Republican Party will have significant internal problems to overcome to remain a potent political force in 2008. Whether or not that is true is, while interesting and even relevant, far from a description of everything that's going on in the Big Two. Two years ago, were someone to ask any random person the nature of the two largest problems with the Democratic Party, they may have mentioned Hillary Clinton, or Senator Kennedy, a lack of a coherent voice, or, if the person were more astute and actually paid attention to national politics, possibly Senator Byrd. Nowadays, I think there's a strong argument for those two problems are House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National committee Chairman Howard Dean.
Nancy Pelosi: She has attacked the current Republican Congress as being marked by missed opportunities, even going so far as to say that it is out of touch with the American people. American people, above most Supreme Court decisions in the last generation, were deeply concerned by the Kelo vs. Weare, CT, decision, and were and remain afraid that this may give the government carte blanche to raze people's homes for strip malls to be built. What was Congresswoman Pelosi's stance on this issue? She said, "This is almost as if God has spoken." She went further to say, “It’s an elementary discussion now; they’ve made the decision.” She even convinced 32 of her fellow House Democrats to vote against the resolution to condemn the decision, and convinced 15 of her fellow House Democrats to vote "present." Though the resolution passed 365-33, the very fact that opposition to this and the companion bill to strip federal funding from any municipality that acts on this decision originated with the top leadership of the Congressional Democrats, and that the major impetus to put a check on this ruling was spearheaded by Congressional Republicans, and was thereby echoed in various Governors' Mansions and state legislatures around the nation, with one of the first of those states being my own. This could spell trouble for Democrats in the midterm elections coming up next year, and, if the world were just, should spell trouble in Pelosi's district, though I doubt it will actually happen.
Howard Dean: Where do I begin with him? I'll ignore my bias against addressing people with non-medical doctorates as "Dr." as this is not an annoyance limited to him. For someone whose job is to bring people to his Party, he's done an excellent job of alienating people. He would be far more effective if he didn't so enjoy the taste of his own shoe leather. From his "NASCAR-dads" comment, to his "Confederate flag-waving comment", to... The list goes on and on, to the point that every time he gets in front of a camera, I'd wager his handlers scream a collective, "Oh shit!" For the rest, I go to the most widely circulated newspaper in my region of Alabama, the Mobile Register. Looking online, I saw an editorial about Howard Dean that clarifies the difficulties he will have in gaining the respect of "red state" voters. Fact-check it if you want. While I may not fully agree with the opinions expressed therein, the facts used to support those arguments are indisputable.
Dishonorable mention: Durbin for his comments comparing American soldiers to Nazis, Gulag guards, and associates of Pol Pot will certainly hurt. Also, election fraud and voter intimidation, as outlined in the American Center for Voting Rights' recent report on the 2004 Presidential election, with the number 1 hot spot being identified as Philadelphia.
In summary, though there are significant problems the Republican Party will be facing in the coming months and years, I wouldn't be popping the champagne corks yet if I were a member or supporter of the Democratic Party.