.... More like eyeliner on a pitbull. The Democrats' attempt to boost their approval ratings by embarking on any aggressive message campaign , whatever that is, is not likely to succeed.

That they would be in this predicament is overdetermined. The Democrats overpromised to get elected and voters overexpected; or maybe they've just transferred their hopes and political interest to the presidential race.

The Democrats regained Congress because of Iraq, Republican corruption and scandals. Since they are constitutionally incapable of ending a war, perhaps it was a little bit of a stretch for them to promise to hold President Bush to account for it. No matter; they were in their rights; that's why we have elections.

Holding hearings and passing resolutions, manipulating symbols and stoking bases -- this is the stuff of a lame duck Congress. Almost definitionally, a Congress from one party elected during a turbulent, polarizing time will find itself having less power than the lame duck president.

But Democrats shouldn't worry. And in many respects, what they're doing is the only thing a smart political party should do until they can elect their president.

A few more rousing Washington press conferences with John Sweeney isn't going to change much.

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