Immediately after the riveting, emotionally charged 2004 presidential election, Democrats felt a palpable post-election melancholy. Many felt certain that John Kerry's defeat meant awful things for the nation -- feelings their Republican-voting fellow citizens doubtless would have experienced had Kerry prevailed.
Now, as George W. Bush's second inauguration nears, Americans' attention is again riveted: by an incomprehensible natural disaster affecting hundreds of thousands, as well as by sports stars' inappropriate behavior and the "desperation" of four well-heeled, Size-2 housewives.
It's easy, even for Democrats, to forget:
The ghastly post-election feeling of "What happens now?" The sickening sense that documented evidence of voter disenfranchisement nationwide might not have been unconnected and meaningless. The unavoidable question: "Was another election compromised?"
But life doesn't stop. Jobs clamor for attention, bills await payment, kids must be fed. We're moving on.
Maybe that's why Democratic activist David Lytel comes off like a razor blade in a pillow factory -- pointed, impatient, unapologetically sharp-edged in a "chill out, get over it" world. Sitting across from him at lunch, you wonder, "What about him feels . . . different?"
Maybe because I avoid talk-radio's ranting and TV's pseudo-sexual gymnastics, I've lately encountered comparatively little such passion. Before Nov. 2, however, passions were so high across the political spectrum that I believed that no matter who won, the opposition would galvanize in powerful ways.
Yet many once-energized Democrats seem . . . weary. Or is it scared?
Not such folks as Lytel, a major supporter of "CounterInaugural," the Thursday event that will include anti-Bush rallies, a march to McPherson Square and a CounterInaugural Ball (www.counterinaugural.com).
Clearly, Lytel -- whose 16-month-old site, www.ReDefeatbush.com, has 80,000 subscribers -- is furious at the Bush administration for "disabling democracy in ways the founders would have found offensive," he says. But his most passionate criticism is directed at, well, folks like me: "mainstream media" members who he believes have "completely ignored all of the activity around challenging the  vote."
Such journalists and broadcasters, Lytel says, examined evidence of voting problems nationwide and then informed their readers and viewers that "a lot of bad stuff happened, spontaneously, by itself."
That's right: Conservatives slam the media for "liberal bias" against Bush -- who must be savoring CBS News's recent Air National Guard memo debacle -- while liberals diss the press for ignoring information that allegedly would oust the current administration.
At least they're passionate.