Guy Benson
As the media busies itself with its ritual hand-wringing over "civility" and the alarming influence Tea Party 'extremists' exert over the Republican Party, moderate Democrats are quietly vanishing into political oblivion.  First, the Clinton-era Democratic Leadership Council, long considered a bugaboo of the far Left, has announced it is closing up shop forthwith:

The Democratic Leadership Council, the iconic centrist organization of the Clinton years, is out of money and could close its doors as soon as next week, a person familiar with the plans said Monday.

The DLC, a network of Democratic elected officials and policy intellectuals had long been fading from its mid-'90s political relevance, tarred by the left as a symbol of "triangulation" at a moment when there's little appetite for intra-party warfare on the center-right. The group tried -- but has failed -- to remake itself in the summer of 2009, when its founder, Al From, stepped down as president. Its new leader, former Clinton aide Bruce Reed, sought to remake the group as a think tank, and the DLC split from its associated think tank, the Progressive Policy Institute.

The DLC is already showing signs of disrepair. Its website currently leads a Harold Ford op-ed from last November, titled, "Yes we can collaborate." It lists as its staff just four people, and has only one fellow. Recent tax returns weren't immediately publicly available, but returns from 2004-2008 show a decline in its budget from $2.6 million to $1.5 million, and a source said funding further dried up during the financial crisis that began nine months before Reed took over.


The DLC may be throwing in the towel, but at least centrist Democrats still have the emaciated ranks of Congressional Blue Dogs representing their interests in Washington.  Say, how are they holding up these days?

There's been "no communication" this Congress between House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and members of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition, one of its top members said Monday.

Rep. Heath Shuler (N.C.), who challenged Pelosi for the job of Democratic leader in the 112th Congress, suggested that Blue Dog Democrats feel shut out from the leadership in the House.

"There has really been no communication whatsoever," Shuler told MSNBC. "We still do not have any connection between the Blue Dogs and leadership."

In perhaps the ultimate rebuke to the Democratic leader, Shuler said Blue Dog Democrats often have more in common ideologically with former President Ronald Reagan than with Pelosi. What would have been Reagan's 100th birthday prompted remembrances over the weekend.

Mercilessly targeted by the Lefty fringe and utterly neglected by party leadership -- Why would any self-respecting, genuinely moderate Democrat remain loyal to a party that treats him or her like a battered, redheaded stepchild?  Answer: Many are not.

For Democrats, Ashley Bell was the kind of comer that a party builds a future on: A young African American lawyer, he served as president of the College Democrats of America, advised presidential candidate John Edwards and spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.

But after his party's midterm beat-down in November, Bell, a commissioner in northern Georgia's Hall County, jumped ship. He joined the Republicans.

Bell, 30, said he had serious issues with the healthcare law and believed that conservative "blue dog" Democrats in Congress who shared his values had been bullied into voting for it.

Bell's defection is one of dozens by state and local Democratic officials in the Deep South in recent months that underscore Republicans' continued consolidation of power in the region — a process that started with presidential politics but increasingly affects government down to the level of dogcatcher.

"I think the midterms showed you really can't be a conservative and be a member of the Democratic Party," Bell said.

Welcome to the big tent, Mr. Bell.  Abandoning Nancy & Co. wasn't too hard, was it?

Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography