A POX! It may surprise you to hear this: In his column today, David Broder assesses the Democratic and Republican primary debates that happened this week, considers both parties to have engaged in a "dispiriting display of pandering and group-think," and warns that "the dynamic on both sides is trending toward extreme positions that would open the door to an independent or third-party challenge in 2008 aimed at the millions of voters in the center." The door, it's opening! Very slowly, but still opening ...

Broder also says that the "danger may be greatest for the Democrats." This is in part because the "broader question of Persian Gulf policy in the likely event of a drawdown of American forces in the coming year is ... a blind spot for the Democrats." For readers who may be wondering, the likely drawdown of American forces he's referencing here is the one that he and other Beltway press sages keep predicting will happen despite the absence of any evidence in support of it and abundant evidence to the contrary. Indeed, Broder singles out Joe Biden at the end of his column for bravely defending his vote for the Iraq supplemental bill during the debate, but he doesn't quote one of the most blunt and important lines Biden uttered in offering that defense: "Ladies and gentlemen, you're going to end this war when you elect a Democratic president." And not, Biden meant, before that time, given a president with no intention of drawing down forces and a Republican Party uninterested in giving Democrats the 67 Senate votes they'd need to override the president.

--Sam Rosenfeld