Andrew Sullivan asks:
Could it be that in this election cycle, the tactics of the far right are beginning to turn around and bite them?
In order for that to happen, the Democratic leadership would have to make a counterpunch. I don't see that happening. They (still!) haven't learned: When you tell yourself you're being lofty and ignore gutter attacks, you allow those attacks to become accepted as fact. (Thus decorated veteran Kerry was painted as a wimp by multiple-student-deferment Cheney and a candidate who spent the war years keeping the skies of Texas safe from the Viet Cong, until he "talked to the army" and didn't finish his enlistment.) And when you don't speak up to defend yourself because you think protesting might make you look weak.... You just look weak. And are therefore treated with contempt by a party that respects only strength.
Is it a case of lacking the killer instinct, or just the effect of being beaten up by Republicans so badly for so long they've become too timid to assert themselves? I don't know. I do know their "Maybe if we're nice, the Republicans won't be so mean to us" strategy isn't working, has never worked. And if a Democrat had had the kind of week McCain just had, it's all we'd be hearing about from now to election day.
Personally, I would love to see the GOP implode on itself, not only as poetic justice but as a necessary corrective for the last several years. But it won't happen unless it's helped along by a vigorous opposition, one the current Democratic leadership seems unable or unwilling to muster and the candidate seems to be having trouble mounting. Reagan said of the Soviet Union: It didn't fall, it was pushed. Today's Democratic Party won't give the Republican Party even a nudge.