Lanny Davis, a loyal Democrat, has written some clear reflections on why Massachusetts voters supported an independent-minded Republican over the Democrat (who, a month ago, was the presumed winner). (see The Wall Street Journal, Wednesday, 20 January, 2010.)
"Somehow, in the last 12 months, we allowed the party of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama to morph into the party of George McGovern (or more accurately, his most ardent supporters) and Howard Dean, who called for the defeat of the Democratic health-care bill if it had neither a public option or Medicare buy-in. (He couldn't possibly have been speaking for the 31 million uninsured people in taking that all-or-nothing position.)"
..."Bottom line: We liberals need to reclaim the Democratic Party with the New Democrat positions of Bill Clinton and the New Politics/bipartisan aspirations of Barack Obama—a party that is willing to meet half-way with conservatives and Republicans even if that means only step-by-step reforms on health care and other issues that do not necessarily involve big-government solutions."
I agree with him that good politics always progresses incrementally. When politicians stretch for too much, too soon, too ambitiously, they will lose.