Here are a series of lessons, in no particular order:
a) Democrats win with presidential candidates with recent experience running in red states (so Al Gore, eight years in DC, doesn't count). Clinton, Carter, LBJ--that's it back to 1960. God love them, but this doesn't describe either HRC or Obama (although the latter might be good for the bottom of the ticket).
b) Biography doesn't trump voting record.
c) Governors are better than Senators.
d) Democrats need a strategy that encourages black turnout while simultaneously appealing to moderate Hispanics and working-class whites. This means serious work in crafting a sensible package of domestic policies to increase social mobility and income security, and even more important, figuring out a clear, simple rhetorical package to communicate them with.
e) While Frymer won't like it, switching the subject to international governance is a pretty lame solution. Americans will always be suspicious of transferring power over domestic governance to international institutions (foreign policy is somewhat different, although I think the limits there are fairly significant as well). Given the Republican control of the courts (which will accelerate in the next four years), Frymer's preference for the bench over the ballot box is no solution either. The answer is to take the American people seriously enough to figure out why Democrats haven't been able to win the handful of midwestern states necessary to elect a president.
f) Blaming Kerry isn't the solution--if we should be mad at anyone, it's the people who voted for him. Just getting mad at Kerry is a strategy of evasion--"if only someone else had been the nominee!" Yes, another nominee would have performed better, but the real question is, how can we change the nomination process to ensure that a candidate who accepts points a-e actually wins.
g) Gay marriage hurt. I'm for it, but on this the Democrats made a mistake that my research on conservative organizations suggested the Republicans never would have made--pushing too hard for a change on which insufficient foundations had been laid. Gay marriage advocates overplayed their hand, and what they got as a consequence was 11 state referenda stuck in their face. The damage from this, both for the Democrats and for a cause I believe is just, is substantial, and it is not over yet.