There's not much I can introduce into the Hackett discussion that hasn't already been said in great detail. So I'll say my bit about how we should feel about the loss, and then offer a strategic point:
First, there's no denying that Hackett's loss is disappointing, since the prize if he had won would've been enormous. Having a Iraq vet in Congress who could be our party's mouthpiece on this issue and foreign policy more generally would've been awesome. It's also possible that Hackett could've held this seat for quite a while or moved up to challenge some higher opponent. So it's reasonable to have the disappointment that people have when they barely miss out on something unlikely but really wonderful.
Second, we can feel pretty good about our competitiveness in Ohio. If we can lose 52-48 in the reddest district in the state, there's a way to win anywhere else. Sure, we were running a great candidate against a mediocre one, but the point is that a lot is going to depend on particulars of the race. Giving Coingate and other scandals some time to simmer can only help us, and the fact that we'll be running against the least popular governor in the nation (19% approval, 74% disapproval in a recent poll) can only help us as far as coattails go. While Bush may have won in 2004 by making himself seem indispensable to the War On Terror, it's not clear that GOP congressmen can claim the same advantages.
Third, I'm happy about the fact that a Democratic Iraq vet got so much media attention.
I disagree with the dKossish line that Hackett succeeded by uncompromisingly yelling the Democratic line everywhere, and that moderation is a loser. Hackett did an impressive job of presenting himself as a hard-core liberal to the bloggers, but he did feature Bush fairly positively in one of his ads. Hackett's webpage only identifies him as a Democrat in third-party news stories. While it's important to make your positions clear and defend them aggressively, flaunting the symbols of Democratic partisanship can be a bad idea in some places.
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