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Opening Arguments

Nailing down the moving middle

Some thoughts on Evan Bayh's quest for the White House:

The current Sen. Bayh is a moderate, while his father, though certainly never a far-left liberal, was in the ranks of Senate liberals.

And the younger Bayh seeks an entirely different designation among Democratic presidential contenders on the political spectrum.

Evan Bayh is staking out a centrist approach, trying to become the alternative to Hillary Clinton, now the leader in the polls for the Democratic nomination. He must convince Democrats in the early tests of strength that he would have the best chance of swaying voters in some red states to join with blue states to enable a Democratic victory.

In 1976, Birch Bayh was seeking to become the liberal contender for the nomination.

It's an indication of how the political landscape has changed that Birch was trying to be the liberal contender in a year that saw Jimmy Carter -- at least perceived as a moderate -- take the nomination. Today's contenders -- including the young Bayh and Hillary Clinton -- feel they have to play the moderate card right from the beginning.