Will the last Democrat to leave office turn out the lights?

Just ain’t a good time to be part of the party of the jackass.

Senators Chris Dodd and Byron Dorgan just joined a growing list of Democrats headed for the exits over in the House. They’re quitting. So is the Colorado Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter.

A Democratic House member jumped ship over the holidays and became a Republican. Others, we are told, are considering a jump.

And those who choose to stay may lose their re-election bids, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

To steal an old line from songwrite/satarist Tom Lehrer, Democrats right now “feel like a Christian Scientist with appendicitis.”

President Barack Obama’s approval rating with the public is below 50 percent and dropping. Public approval of Congress squats at an all-time low.

Democratic political strategists fear the party could face a disaster in the mid-term elections like the 1994 washout that put Republicans back in control of Congress.

In 1994, Democrats fogot their base and paid the price. It could happen again.

Writes E.J. Dionne in The Washington Post:

As they enter this difficult election year, Democrats seem ready to engage yet again in a debate they never seem to tire of: whether winning demands “moving to the center” or “mobilizing the base.” If they get stuck on this, they’re in for a very bad time.

The simple truth is that in midterm elections, no party can win without its base because turnout is lower than in presidential elections. Those who do vote are more committed to their parties and their ideological priorities.

Behind the 1994 Republican midterm sweep was a dispirited Democratic base unhappy about the failure of heath-care reform, grumpy about the economy and badly split over the North American Free Trade Agreement, for which President Bill Clinton pushed so hard. While Democrats stayed home, Republicans mobbed the polls and won races all the way down the ballot. It’s the midterm rule: No base, no victory.

The health care “reform” bill that comes out of Congress in the next month or so will do little to satisfy the Democratic base. It won’t make independents or moderates happy either. The only people who seem to like the health care bill are the industry lobbyists who wrote it.

Obama, who rode into office on a tidal wave of public discontent and hope for real change in Washington, could leave it mired in the quicksand of business as usual, swallowed up by a system that proved, once again, impossible to change.

So far, Obama hasn’t been up to the job. Neither has Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi or Nevada casino bagman Harry Reid. Reid is so out of touch with his Democratic Senators that Dodd and Dorgan didn’t tell him befor the news of their retirements leaked out.

Like Republicans in 1994 and 2000, Democrats were handed a golden opportunity by voters and blew it.

If they get blown out in November they will have only themselves to blame.