Without fanfare, the moribund Coalition for a Democratic Majority (CDM) is being resurrected for prodding President Carter toward tough-minded defense, foreign and domestic policies.
The soon-to-be-named chairmen are Sens. Henry M. Jackson (Wash.) and Daniel Patrick Moynihan (N.Y.). Despite much praise from them and others for Carter's human-rights campaign, some other Carter administration actions fail the test of virtue as perceived by many centrist Democrats.
The stated objective, however, is not a high-pressure lobbying operation against Carter. Rather, Jackson, Moynihan, author-politician Ben Watternberg, Yale law Professor Eugene Rostow and other leading lights of CDM will actively support or oppose the President, depending on the issue and the policy. Carter, they feel, has shown himself to be "highly responsive" to "reasoned" public pressure and they plan to exert it, particularly on nuclear arms, human rights and economic growth.
After expecting to "self-destruct" after Carter's election, the coalition changed its mind and quietly launched a fund-raising campaign several weeks ago (with about $25,000 raised so far.) Significantly, its top fund-riser is now S. Harrison (Sonny) Dogole, a rich Philadelphian (Globe Securities System( and long-time political ally and fund-raiser for Sen. Hubert Humphrey's presidential campaigns.
Dogole's existing positions as a chief fund-raiser for the Democratic National Committee and chairman of the President's exclusive "1600 Club" of large contributors has raised some eyebrows. But Wattenberg (principal founder of CDM, whose purpose was to drive the Democratic Party back to the center following the McGovern debacle of 1972) sees "no problem."
Dogole's decision to raise money for a political group whose avowed purpose is to influence Jimmy Carter strongly reflects centrist party unhappiness with Carter's policies on Cuba, the Republic of China and southern Africa.
One other area certain to come within the new CDM's sights is the Mideast and the President's heavy pressure on Israel (at least until his long session this week with top Jewish leaders.)
The factor determining the coalition's resurrection unfolded within 10 days after Carter's inauguration: concern that the Jackson-Moynihan centrists were being ignored in staffing policy-making jobs in the State Department and the National Security Council. "My problem is not the appointees, but the . . . missing point of view," Wattenberg told a closed-door meeting here of centrist Democrats on Jan. 31.
Carter's later decision to name Paul Warnke, highly suspect among defense oriented party leaders, as chief armscontrol negotiator played a major role in the decision to rehabilitate the CDM. Plans now call for a $150,000 budget in 1978, raised (for the first time) largely without help from organized labor, and a broadened horizon extending beyond foreign and military policy to such issues as growth versus the environment (the coalition will push growth) and the party's attitude toward business (CDM wants it improved.)
A luncheon meeting failed to resolve Ronald Reagan's long-standing opposition to a new Panama Canal treaty, despite the best efforts of liberal Ambassador Sol Linowitz.
Linowitz and ambassador Ellsworth Bunker are negotiating the new treaty, under which the United States will ultimately yield control over the canal. When he read a scathing attack in one or Reagan's newspaper columns on any thought of giving up the canal, Linowitz wrote a polite letter suggesting that Reagan might want more facts. That led to a Reagan invitation to lunch.
Describing that luncheon to a group of senators two weeks ago in a Panama treaty briefing called by Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd and Majority Whip Alan Cranston, Linowitz said that Reagan was "decent, fair and open-minded" when Linowitz explained the rationale of the new treaty - but apparently immovable.
Footnote: At an earlier Byrd arranged Senate briefing by Bunker and Linowitz, Sen. Barry Goldwater said he had swung "almost 180 degrees" in favor of a new treaty - but refused to commit himself to the document now being drafted.