Beware Of DINOS?….I’m usually of the opinion that Democrats should take all the help they can get on their way to reclaiming majority party status in the U.S. Senate. That means supporting anyone to the left of Zell Miller. Sure, sometimes you get self-financed millionaires who have never rubbed together two policy thoughts. And sometimes you get a vaguely corrupt hack or two. But on balance, it’s better than a world in which Bill Frist runs the Senate, all the while doing the bidding of Karl Rove.

Still, it can be tough to sit idly by and watch while Democratic hopefuls tack hard to the right in an attempt to win seats in conservative states. My Oklahoma informants tell me that the Democratic Senate candidate there, Congressman Brad Carson, is currently running television commercials that highlight his support of the partial-birth abortion ban and his opposition to gay marriage. I don’t expect him to be out in front defending abortion and gay marriage — that could be political suicide in a state like Oklahoma. But it’s one thing to hold pragmatic conservative beliefs, it’s quite another to aggressively run on them.

There’s no question that Carson would be a more liberal addition to the Senate than rabidly conservative Tom Coburn, the Republican contender who has mused about the virtues of using the death penalty on doctors who perform abortions. And I’m not advocating a purge of Democrats-In-Name-Only as Republicans have done. Still, if Democrats want a caucus that eventually looks a little less like John Breaux, they need to figure out how to play offense on cultural issues.

Amy Sullivan

Amy Sullivan is a Chicago-based journalist who has written about religion, politics, and culture as a senior editor for Time, National Journal, and Yahoo. She was an editor at the Washington Monthly from 2004 to 2006.