DANIEL SCHORR: Shakespeare might have had the Democrats in mind when he wrote in Hamlet that sorrows come not in single spies, but in battalions.


NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr.

SCHORR: In his address tonight, President Obama is as much concerned about the state of his party in the wake of the stunning loss of Ted Kennedys seat as he is about the state of the union.

In The Hill newspaper today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says that Massachusetts may have changed the math in the congressional lineup, but we will fight on. Fight has become a chosen word in Democratic parlance. In his speech in Ohio last week, reacting to the loss of the Massachusetts seat, the president used the word fight or fighting a total of 22 times, and one can expect a combative president tonight embracing a disaffected electorate.

But the impact of Massachusetts is becoming evident. Joseph Biden III has suddenly bowed out of the race for his fathers Senate seat in Delaware. Arkansas Representative Marion Berry has announced his retirement. And up to a dozen other House members are reportedly considering an exit strategy.

The Massachusetts setback came not singly, but after the Democrats had lost the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia. The immediate effect was to inspire the almost-leaderless Republicans, although opinion polls indicate that disillusionment with Democrats does not add up to an embrace of Republicans.

The voters are in a plague on both your houses mood. But its the Democrats, still formally in command of Congress, who need help if anything is to be enacted from health care reform to a freeze on domestic spending. For the president, this represents a special challenge.

In an interview with Diane Sawyer of ABC, he said that he would rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president. The question is whether resurgent Republicans and even independents will allow him to be an effective president.

In these volatile times, change could come quickly. But for now, these seem to be dark days for Democrats.

This is Daniel Schorr.

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