AP wonders: Why isn't our very productive Congress more respected by voters?

If you’re wondering why this story feels familiar, it’s because Politico already wrote it three months ago vis-a-vis Obama and his “achievements.” It’s as true now as it was then — the Democrats certainly have done a lot with their majority. And yet, somehow … voters seem unhappy.

What can explain this strange state of affairs by which unpopular, ineffective, astronomically expensive legislation is passed and the electorate recoils?

Not since the explosive years of the civil rights movement and the hard-fought debut of government-supported health care for the elderly and poor have so many big things — love them or hate them — been done so quickly…

In the 1960s Democrats paid the price for events largely outside their control — an escalating war in Vietnam going badly, rowdy anti-war protests and violence in American cities, said Linda Fowler, professor of government at Dartmouth College.

“I think that’s what’s going on this time too,” Fowler said, “despite a very significant record of accomplishment.”…

But in taking on issues for the history books, Democrats have failed on some matters close to the hearts of allies whose energy is vital in an election. Legislation making it easier to unionize workplaces is stalled, Hispanics are still pressing for an overhaul of the immigration system and environmental groups want action on climate change.

That’s usually how these pieces end, with a hint that if only The One and Congress had been more liberal and rammed through other big ticket left-wing legislation — the triumphant passage of universal health care after decades of trying apparently wasn’t enough — then things might be a little different right now. Which is true as far as it goes: The more you do for your base, the more grateful they’re likely to be. But then, by the same token, the more incensed the other party’s base is bound to become in the process. Nate Silver looked at the enthusiasm gap a few weeks ago and found that “there is not actually much evidence of unusually deep problems among the Democratic base” in terms of enthusiasm this year. The huge GOP advantage is due chiefly to conservative agony at those “achievements” translating into a frenzy of Republican midterm excitement. If it’s this intense now, imagine what it would have been like had The One figured out a way to push through, say, cap-and-trade. All of which is to say that if Democrats had been a little less productive, focusing on economic solutions instead of a nine-month quest to create a new health-care entitlement, then they really might be in position to hold onto Congress for another two years.

For your viewing pleasure, via Breitbart, here’s Ed Schultz reminding us that there’s no Democratic political ill that can’t be cured with better “messaging” — in this case, using MSNBC’s dumb new “lean forward” slogan to try to rally liberal voters. Exit question: Per the blockquote, which events have been “largely” outside Democrats’ control? In virtually every poll I’ve seen, most people still blame Bush for the state of the economy. Could it be that it’s the Democrats’ responses to those “events” — something they very much have control over — that have alienated voters more so than the events themselves?