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The High-Water Mark

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jan 8, 2007 2:50PM

Is Dick Durbin untouchable this season? It's starting to look that way. The intrepid senator from downstate is preparing to run for his third term in the Senate in '08, and the Illinois GOP is having a hard time fielding anyone to take him on. Even that perennial standard-bearer for the wacky-right in the Land of Lincoln, Jim Oberweis, is dodging this bullet, eyeing instead Denny Hastert's seat.

2007_1_water.jpgBesides being the new Senate whip, and generally stepping up his leadership role in the 110th Congress, he's also been honking the Obama horn, making it clear that he will endorse Barack should he run (much to the chagrin of erstwhile local girl Hillary Clinton). As the new Congress takes session in the coming weeks and the Bushies dust off the trusty yet underutilized veto pen, so much of what the Democrats do this year will matter in the presidential election in '08. In fact, we would argue that this probably is as good as it gets for Pelosi, Reid, and the rest of the party.

While the press hints that the Dems might take a different course on the war on Iraq, the real question is whether they will actually stand for anything. One of the key problems that the Democratic Party has had in the last decade is that people don't know what they stand for. This lack of overarching unifying mission was best seen in the presidential race of 2004, when John Kerry ran on the platform of "I'm not Bush." We all saw how well that worked.

If the newly empowered Democrats can enact their agenda in the time frame they have publicly committed themselves to, and they manage to stay united and fight Bush in the arena of public opinion, a major victory will be scored for the party, and the table will at least be set for a viable presidential run next year. Rumors abound that Obama will announce he is running this month. We suspect that he will wait to see what happens in Congress first, so that his agenda jives with the party's, and so that he has something to run on. The real question, the situation that remains to be seen, is whether or not he will take principled stands on the difficult issues. If this new Congress does it, and a strong candidate emerges from the primaries in the spring, a new Democratic Party could hold power coming into 2009. If they drop the ball, though, a golden opportunity will be lost.

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