The Democrats' pony in the manure

Ronald Reagan’s favorite joke was about two young twin boys, one a congenital pessimist, the other a congenital optimist. Trying to cure them both, the father first took the pessimist into a room filled with every imaginable toy and game. The boy burst into tears: “I know you will take them all away from me, or they will break!” He then took the optimist to a room filled with horse manure and a shovel. The boy jumped on the manure and started to shovel away happily. The stunned father asked why. His son said, “There must be a pony in here somewhere!”

After their loss in Georgia’s special election Tuesday — the most expensive congressional election in history and the highest turnout ever in a congressional special election — Democrats are searching hard for the pony.

There is no doubt this was a demoralizing setback for Democrats, in part because a victory would have been a huge news story, would likely have sent spasms of fear up and down the spines of many congressional Republicans about the consequences for them supporting an unpopular President’s program, and would probably have encouraged a number to retire rather than go through a brutal reelection campaign next November.