White House strategists are debating whether to run a national ad campaign casting the Republican party as all but taken over by Tea Party extremists, according to The New York Times. "We need to get out the message that it's now really dangerous to re-empower the Republican Party," said one Democratic strategist. The White House calls the Times story "flat-out, 100 percent wrong." But, after the string of high-profile Tea Party victories over GOP moderates, would pursuing the strategy be a good idea? (Watch an MSNBC discussion about this campaign approach)
Is the White House really this foolish? "Fear-mongering" hardly seems like a winning strategy for the Democrats, says Mary Katherine Ham in The Weekly Standard. It won't motivate the young voters who bought the 2008-model post-partisan Obama, and independents aren't that turned off by the Tea Party. Besides, given the poor economy, I bet "Dems in swing districts are all but begging the White House not to nationalize the election."
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Why not point out the obvious? "The midterms have already been largely nationalized," despite the Democrats' best efforts, says Steve Benen in Washington Monthly. So their "strongest hand" might be to point out to "mainstream voters" that "anti-government zealots" and "fringe extremists" really are calling the shots now at the national GOP, and that their "unpopular wish list" includes "gutting Social Security" and shutting down the government.
Focusing too much on "fringe" positions is a mistake: Even if Tea Partiers Rand Paul or Sharron Angle make it to the Senate, does anyone really think Congress will, say, gut Social Security? asks Susan Milligan in U.S. News. "Democrats are wise to brand the GOP with its more extremist nominees" — but they need "to make the argument that it's the judgment and character of the candidates that are suspect, instead of warning of a 2011 without Social Security or the Civil Rights Act."
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