DAVIS: Al From, a founder of today’s Democratic Party

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Mr. From wasn’t disturbed when the 2008 presidential candidates, including Barack Obama, virtually ignored the DLC as they chased the left-liberal voters in the early primary and caucus states.

“Once the general election comes and it’s time to win the presidency as opposed to the primaries,” he assured me over lunch one day, “the nominee will come back to DLC ideas.”

History has proven him right - at least in the eyes of many political observers of the first six months of the Obama presidency.

As David Paul Kuhn wrote in RealClearPolitics on June 16, the day of the evening event honoring Mr. From’s retirement, Mr. Obama reportedly said, “I am a New Democrat” in a private meeting with moderate House Democrats in March 2008, just two months into his presidency.

Mr. Obama also was willing to defy the harangues of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and others on the left by inviting Joe Lieberman, who had supported his Republican opponent, John McCain, to remain in the Senate Democratic caucus. And he has stood up to his political base on the left on several other critical issues.

Mr. Kuhn concluded his piece by citing a recent article on the vitriolic anti-DLC blog site, the Daily Kos, which featured an article headlined, “Did the DLC win after all?”

Mr. Kuhn’s answer: “It appears so.”

There is one easy way to explain Mr. From’s success in restoring a successful center-left Democratic Party now led by Mr. Obama: sheer will and stubbornness, hearkening back to my opening reference to Tom Paine.

I am reminded of the words of former Sen. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. of New York about his friend, Allard K. Lowenstein, the great anti-Vietnam War liberal leader of the 1960s:

“For Al, who knew the lesson of Emerson and taught it to the rest of us: ‘They did not yet see, and thousands of young men as hopeful, now crowding to the barriers of their careers, did not yet seek, if a single man plant himself on his convictions and then abide, the huge world will come round to him.’ ”

That’s Al From, all right.

• Lanny J. Davis, a Washington lawyer and former special counsel to President Clinton, served as a member of President George W. Bush’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. He is the author of “Scandal: How ‘Gotcha’ Politics Is Destroying America.” This column is also simultaneously posted at TheHill.com/PunditsBlog.

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