Paul Greenberg offers some interesting predictions on the 2006 elections.

Barring an economic meltdown, the old Democratic dream of rebuilding the Rooseveltian coalition on the ruins of another Hooverian presidency will fail to materialize. Because ever since the ideologues took control of the Democratic Party in the '60s, it hasn't been able to re-establish sustained contact with the American heartland. And the more fired-up its zealots, the poorer the candidates they support do in November. Call it the McGovern Effect.

The very thought of Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, as speaker of the House will be enough to energize the right and concern the center, and I'd guess those two categories account for about 80 percent of the American electorate.

Even when leading Democrats talk about God, express doubts about the morality of abortion, say they're tough enough to win the war on terror, promise to repeal the estate/death tax and generally seek to get in touch with middle America again, they sound phony, as if they're just reciting phrases they've carefully practiced.

There's no way to fabricate authenticity; people can tell the real thing. And the unreal. Until the Harry Truman/Scoop Jackson/Joe Lieberman kind of Democrat stages a comeback, the party will continue to founder. Republican failures alone do not translate into Democratic appeal.

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