But even President Clinton's two terms did little to halt liberalism's demise. Indeed, he was complicitous in the conservative effort to peel away the last layers of the New Deal and the Great Society.
Today, some take hope in the popularity of Democratic contender Barack Obama. He is, after all, the most liberal member of the Senate, according to a National Journal ranking.
But today, that distinction seems as quaint as an Amish buggy poking down a Pennsylvania country road.
Any reported wave of liberalism simply cannot buck the conservative tide. Regardless of who is elected president in 2008, there seems to be little enthusiasm for liberalism.
More important, there is little or no money to fund new social programs. Costs for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are running into the trillions of dollars. Presidents often raise taxes to pay for war. Bush didn't (he accelerated tax cuts in 2003), which has made the fiscal cupboard even barer. The war on terror called for a tax increase, a kind of Osama bin Laden tithe. But that had no support.
Even if a Democratic president were to push through a liberal national health insurance program, it could hardly be called forward-looking. Such an enactment would merely be catching up with the rest of the civilized world.