You would think they'd be worried.
Last night, the National Committee for an Effective Congress, a liberal political action committee created by Eleanor Roosevelt to counter the radical right, celebrated its 35th year at a $100-a-ticket party. The fact that the nation has been slipping farther and farther to the right since the birth of the organization did not go unnoticed.
"I am very, very worried," said the committee's national director, Russell Hemenway. "All I know is that the young people you see elected today tend to be more and more extreme in their views . . . The moderate and liberal wing of the Republican Party is becoming harder to find. In that one sense we have failed. The liberal wing of the Republican Party is moribund."
Which doesn't have to mean that the conservative wing of the party is alive, as Rep. Tim Wirth (D-Colo.) was generous enough to point out.
"They're just shriller and richer," he said.
About 200 surviving liberals gathered amid the Daumiers and Ce'zannes of the Phillips Collection to sip gin and tonics and chow down fancy shrimnp and baby quiches. The ambiance was fiercely Republican, despite the clearly liberal message.
A handful of House members showed up, but to the disappointment of the organizers, the Senate was held up on a budget resolution. The rain didn't help matters much. For $35, poorer supporters were invited to The Bayou in Georgetown to see comedians Franken and Davis of Saturday Night Live fame.
At the Phillips Collection, the guests included former senator Frank Church, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Rep. Robert Edgar (D-Pa.), Rep. Berkley Bedell (D-Iowa) and New Dealer Joseph Rauh.
"Oh, I think we'll see liberal come back again," surmised Church, a 1980 casualty of the Reagan sweep. "But we certainly can't expect a replay of the New Deal."