David Brooks has a solid column in today’s Times about the DeLay situation. (I’d link to it, but because of the NYT’s foolish, influence-diminishing greed, I can’t.)

Here’s the critical graf:

“Will we learn from DeLay’s fall about the self-destructive nature of the team [partisan] mentality? Of course not. The Democrats have drawn the 10-years-out-of-date conclusion that in order to win, they need to be just like Tom DeLay. They need to rigidly hew to orthodoxy. They need Deaniac hyperpartisanship. They need to organize their hatreds around Bush the way the Republicans did around Clinton.”

Seems to me that Brooks is exactly right. While Democrats can revel in the Republicans’ current troubles, those troubles actually mask glaring Democratic weaknesses. It’s still unclear what the party stands for, other than a nip-at-his-heels opposition to Bush. The party lacks not only a vision, but also strong, charismatic leaders to communicate it. The closest the Dems come to such a figure—at least in terms of the 2008 election—is Hillary Clinton, and even though you can’t underestimate her, she does have an awful lot of baggage.

My guess is that by the time 2008 rolls around, most Americans are going to want a fresh face from both parties. (Weirdly enough, 69-year-old John McCain, whose candor is always refreshing, fits the bill more than anyone else other than Barack Obama, who won’t be running this time.) Is there any Democratic candidate who fits that description? Because despite the GOP implosion, Democrats still lack a candidate they can proudly call their own.