One of the most ubiquitous phrases in politics is the concept of "Message". One is either "On Message" or "Off Message", meaning that you are successfully articulating the party's unifying theme or position. But what if you haven't any "message" at all?
The Denziens of D.U. might quibble with him, but Howard Fineman of Newsweek & MSNBC makes a strong case for how not having a "big idea" can render a party impotent. I agree with his contention that the Dems aren't articulating anything right now, but I'll carry it one step further by saying the Democrats haven't had a "message" for some time, and this has allowed the extremists within the party to take to the public stage. Combine this with the habit of establishment Democrats to simply and reflexively obstruct any and all Republican proposals, and you have a party that is in big trouble.
Why can't the Democrats capitalize? With the White House on the ropes after Katrina, Dems waffle and wheeze