"It is always tough in America to be a centrist," says Al From, chief executive of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC).
From should know.
He and Bruce Reed, the DLC's president, recently wrote an Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post urging Democrats looking for victory in the 2006 and 2008 elections to embrace Clintonism. The pair described that philosophy as "a tough minded attempt to modernize liberalism and solve the nation's problems."
But much of the energy in the Democratic party is not coming from centrist forces like the DLC, but rather from a strong, anti-war, liberal wing. When asked about that phenomenon, From said, "We live in a period when political passions are higher, the amount of civility in politics, at least in Washington, is diminished, and that tends to drive people on the extremes who make the most noise.... It is a very simple factor. If the Democrats want to win the White House in 2008, we are going to have to expand the reach of this party. We are going to have to win in areas where the Republicans won last time. That's pretty simple and it is hard to see [how] narrowing our approach will improve that."
From took a swipe at liberal bloggers who have been critical of the Iraq war stance taken by the standard bearer for Clintonism – New York Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton.
"Energy is always good for a political party," From said. "But so is taking positions that have a broad appeal to the country. The vitriol, the tone, the vindictiveness of some of the blogoshphere I don't think is very helpful. Because this is a country that has big problems. And to the degree the blogosphere on both sides tends to polarize the debate ... that is not good. But the energy is important and we will see over the long haul what the impact is."