If the Democrats are to resurrect their party -- especially in the face of 2010 U.S. Census Bureau numbers and population trends that decidedly benefit the GOP -- Obama and Democratic leaders need to move decisively back to the center and avoid appearing to be captives of the special interests.

Bill Clinton was able to do this 15 years ago in the aftermath of the devastating 1994 midterm defeat by adopting a bold new agenda that included a balanced budget, frank acknowledgement of the limits of government, welfare reform, and protection of key social programs like Medicare, Medicaid, education, and the environment.

And today, the Democrats must pursue a pro-growth agenda that emphasizes fiscal prudence and discipline, and focuses on balancing the budget, reducing the deficit and the debt, reforming entitlements, and cutting spending and taxation, while simultaneously promoting economic growth through bipartisan, fiscal stimulus initiatives that target the private sector and encourage entrepreneurship and job creation, promoting energy independence, and articulating practical ideas for education and health care reform.

There are some signs now that Obama understands that he needs to move toward the center as he again talks about bipartisan cooperation, and indicates that he will address the issues of spending and the deficit in his State of the Union address tonight.

But it is by no means clear that this change will in any way affect the influence of these special interests -- who provide the bulk of the funding and the foot soldiers for the party -- with liberal Democrats in the House and Senate, and especially with liberal congressmen from safe districts with whom they share a mutually beneficial relationship.