1. The four years since 2004 have allowed Democrats to become more serious about international relations and back away from the Daily Kos activist fringe mentality. They have rediscovered internationalism, and retreated from a risk of isolationism.
2. The Democrats have avoided taking a major hit on the economy, so stand a better chance of two straight terms.
3. It gave Bush a chance to push the surge in Iraq through despite vigorous opposition from both Democrats and Republicans. Remember Baker Hamilton’s recommendation to pull troops out of Iraq? Only Bush could have pushed the surge through, since he had little to lose. The surge has been a success. Long-term success is less dependent on Washington than it was in 2004, and more dependent on the Iraqi determination to succeed.
5. It has allowed a situation to arise where Obama has had the opportunity to become President, perhaps for two terms, at precisely the time that the rest of the world is becoming more open to the US – even before Bush goes. An Obama Presidency will change things.