As expected, Democrats pounced Sunday night on the Republican Party for trotting out a set of Sunday talk-show surrogates who didn't exactly project political resurgence.
In a Web ad provided to the Huffington Post, the Democratic National Committee pointed to Dick Cheney, John McCain and Newt Gingrich's appearances on the talk-show circuit earlier in the day as the latest example of a party devoid of new ideas or faces.
"Having marginalized themselves as the Party of No - the GOP has nowhere else to turn but a generation of leaders whose ideas and brand of politics have been thoroughly rejected," read an accompanying statement by Communications Director Brad Woodhouse. "Anyone watching television today would have to be excused for asking - is this 1996 or 2009?"
This truly is low-hanging fruit for the DNC: a widely unpopular former vice president, failed presidential candidate and highly controversial former House Speaker representing easy targets. But the real story - and, for the GOP, problem - here is the hard-to-overstate absence of leadership. Without a central figure or institution to help guide the party's message - from the policy platform to the television surrogates - the names and ideas that rise to the surface will naturally be from the old guard. Michael Steele's rocky tenure at the RNC hasn't filled that void.
Much of the problem is, of course, self-inflicted. Cheney, after all, just this past week expressed his desire to see the new wave of Republican leadership take its place in high-profile roles. Then he went out and did a live interview for the full half hour on "Face the Nation," in which he proclaimed Colin Powell to no longer be a Republican.