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Obama Finally Notices the Tea Party

The Chicago pols who occupy the White House may not know much about economics or the Middle East, but they are unparalleled in their devotion to (obsessed with, really) partisanship and attack-dog politics. They’ve gone after Fox News, the Chamber of Commerce, talk show hosts, town hall protesters, Justice Alito, Wall Street, Sarah Palin, and, of course, the Republican Party. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the White House is contemplating a smear attack on the Tea Party, according to the New York Times:

White House and Congressional Democratic strategists are trying to energize dispirited Democratic voters over the coming six weeks, in hopes of limiting the party’s losses and keeping control of the House and Senate. The strategists see openings to exploit after a string of Tea Party successes split Republicans in a number of states, culminating last week with developments that scrambled Senate races in Delaware and Alaska.

Translation: the White House is so panicked and has been so unsuccessful in juicing up the base (wasn’t ObamaCare supposed to do that?) that it now wants to assail a movement of millions of Americans, risk further alienating independents (who loathe hyper-partisanship), and demonstrate just how desperate the Democrats are by attacking the Tea Partiers. Even the Times thinks it’s a dopey idea:

In 1994, Democrats were in power and similarly took hope when Republican primaries yielded candidates deemed too far right for the general election. Yet the wave against Democrats that year was strong enough to carry those newcomers into office and put Republicans in control of Congress for the first time in 40 years.

Except for Ms. O’Donnell in Delaware, Republican nominees that Democrats like to showcase as extremists — including in Senate races in Nevada, Colorado, Kentucky and even blue-state Connecticut — are even with their Democratic rivals in polls or ahead.

The danger in all this — aside from making their political predicament worse — is that it elevates the Tea Party and sets the populist advocates up for some post-election gloating. (“Obama went after us and we beat Obama.”) And for a president who will need to learn to get along, for the first time in his presidency, with committed conservative lawmakers, it’s probably not the best idea to run a vicious, personal attack on them. Some of them — most, in fact — are likely to get elected, and they may be in no mood to compromise with a president who tags every opponent as an “extremist.” But then the Obami aren’t nearly as concerned about governing as they are about campaigning.