DEMOCRATS IN CRISIS: Robert Bartley highlights some problems that the Democratic Party is facing. Most significant, in my mind, is that "barring some sudden swing in public opinion, Democrats are caught between grindstones; their primary base is irreconcilable with the broader electorate." Some 70% of the American population supports the battle in Iraq, but the Democratic base (who votes in the primaries and thus selects their presidential candidate) almost entirely contains the remaining 30% who oppose the war.

Similarly, Democrats are holding up the confirmation/rejection of Miguel Estrada by filibustering rather than allowing a vote, and this is playing poorly to most Americans but playing well among the Democrats' base. The main issue that unifies the Democratic Party is abortion, and there is a primal fear that Mr. Estrada will eventually be appointed to the Supreme Court and vote to overturn Roe v. Wade (which may or may not be the case). Along the same line, 70% of Americans are opposed to leaving partial-birth abortions legal. Congress has already passed bans on partial-birth abortions twice and had them vetoed by Clinton. Bush is ready to sign the bill that the Senate recently passed banning the procedure, but which fewer than a third of the Democratic senators voted for. Appearing to be anti-abortion in any form is a death sentence for any Democratic with political aspirations.

Summarizing the situation well, Mr. Bartley concludes that: "When the dust settles, Senate Democrats are likely to find that their current obstructionism has put them on the wrong side of a defining event."



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