WHEN WAS THE GOP’S FACTIONAL WARFARE?…. The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, writing before yesterday’s caucus vote on Joe Lieberman, offered an odd assessment of the political landscape.

Asked what it would mean if Lieberman kept his chairmanship, one Senate Democratic aide said bluntly: “The left has been foiled again. They can rant and rage but they still do not put the fear into folks to actually change their votes. Their influence would be in question.”

That’s one way to look at it. The other is that the left would be up in arms and far less willing to go along and get along with President-elect Barack Obama’s agenda — particularly if it doesn’t contain the appropriate progressive tilt.

These are the problems of power, the same problems that Republican experienced following the 2000 election. The GOP’s inability to make peace between its warring ideological factions led to its decline in 2006 and fall in 2008. Can Democrats avoid the same fate?

Now, plenty of my colleagues have talked about the first paragraph, on the netroots’ efforts to “put the fear into folks.” But that last paragraph that struck me as even more confusing.

As Cillizza sees it, the Republican Party has been burdened by ideological conflicts throughout Bush’s presidency, which apparently led to the party’s troubles over the last couple of cycles.

I’m afraid Cillizza has it completely backwards. When was it, exactly, that Republican endured “warring ideological factions”? In our reality, GOP policy makers were in line with the Bush White House every step of the way, and voted with the president’s wishes throughout the first six years of his presidency.

And that, of course, was the problem. Republican lawmakers latched onto a failed and unpopular president, and endorsed his policies that didn’t work. Voters disapproved and voted them out. There were no “warring ideological factions” in the GOP — the party might have been better off if there were.

I heartily endorse Steve M.’s incredulity: “Is that really why insider journos think the GOP had trouble at the polls in the last two elections? Because the GOP and the right weren’t in lockstep enough? Was I smoking crack for the last eight years? Did I imagine the near-total absence of GOP/right-wing dissent on the war, torture, surveillance, the tax cuts, deregulation, social programs, and dozens of other issues?”

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.