Now just to be clear, the modern Republican Party has disgraced itself by embracing torture, aggressive war and executive branch lawlessness. It's abandoned fiscal restraint (unless the program is proposed by Democrats), limited government (Terry S.) and science. It's signature issues are hostility to gays, people of color, immigrants, regulations and, especially, taxes of any sort. In short they are a mess.
On the other hand, should they straighten themselves out they will have a clear path to power because the opposition party is afflicted with terminal putzness. The latest example is the sorry saga of Blagojevich and Burris. It simply proves that it's not only Republicans that can outmaneuver Democrats. It simply requires that someone be smart and a little ruthless. That can be a force for good (Obama) or bad (Blago) but the bottom line is that the Democrats, being unable to stand up for any real principles, are hopelessly unable to stand their ground against determined opposition.
In some ways this is a hopeful thing, as I think people who expect Obama to have a lot of trouble with his own side of the aisle are mistaken and are, once again, underestimating him. I think he'll get his way on a surprising amount of his agenda in the end.
But this may not lead to the lasting Democratic party successes that it should because I think Obama is a singular fellow and I doubt he'll be bale to institutionalize the changes in the Democratic Party needed to overcome putzness.
Reid and company made a grave error by laying down a marker on Blagojevich's pick for a senator. Having very thin legal grounds for blocking any pick, they made a vow they couldn't keep. Having no real legitimate grounds for excluding Burris they simply invited Blago to humiliate them by picking someone like Burris that they couldn't really say "no" to. The right response would have been to simply promise to evaluate any pick and make it clear that anyone tainted by a credible report of corruption would face scrutiny. Instead, like the putzheads they are, they rashly demanded that Blago appoint no one and vowed not to seat anyone he appointed.
Unless the Democrats actually produce some real legislative leadership (Reid and Pelosi not being it) I predict the Republicans will come roaring back before the end of Obama's second term.