President Obama is nothing if not a clever operator. He accepts $994,795 in campaign contributions from Goldman Sachs -- then turns around when it's convenient and uses them as a model for why we need to heavily regulate the financial sector. He accepts the support of the gay community during the election cycle -- then turns around and delays the implementation of "don't ask, don't tell" for as long as humanly possible. He accepts the support of the Jewish community -- then turns around and attempts to force Israel to surrender to Iran and her terrorist allies.
Some people would call this two-faced. Chicagoans call this business as usual.
For the first time, however, President Obama is facing the wrath of a growing majority of Americans who aren't part of his favored constituency groups. It's one thing for him to tamp down the anger of financial backers or gays or Jews. It's quite another for him to quell the rage of Americans who despise his destructive agenda.
The tea party embodies that rage, and Obama isn't quite sure what to do about it. He tried to co-opt it, suggesting that tea partiers were truly the same disaffected Americans who had elected him: "The same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office. People are angry and they're frustrated."
Americans didn't buy that, largely because it's moronic. So Obama tried another tactic -- he had his lackeys label the tea partiers as a bunch of violent racists. First, he had black congressmen state, without any evidence to back them up, that tea partiers called them the n-word. Then he had the media pick up that meme and supplement it with the lie that tea partiers are violent criminals.
MSNBC has been the most vocal Obama brown-noser on this point, running segment after segment asking whether tea partiers are more or less morally bankrupt than Nazis. Matthew Perry (in the early "Friends" years) look-alike Rachel Maddow suggested that tea partiers wore "white hoods." Keith Olbermann, the slightly less masculine version of Maddow, called tea partiers "Tea Klux Klan" (because Tea sounds so much like Ku, get it? … well, at least Keith's cats thought that was funny).
It's not just MSNBC. Joe Klein of Time magazine says that Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are "seditious." Bill Clinton -- a man who thought it was more important to nail Monica in the Oval Office than to nail Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan -- says that tea partiers are just like Timothy McVeigh.
There's only one problem: this isn't working either.
So President Obama has come up with a third strategy. This one is far more insidious and far more brilliant than the first two tired manipulations. This one plays on the latent ideological weakness of the Republican Party.
So far, the tea partiers and the Republican Party have been almost universally on the same side. Republican leaders have done their best to get out in front of the tea party movement, suggesting that their principles are the same as the tea party's and that they stand united against the socialist Obama agenda.
That may be true for many Republicans. It's certainly not true for all of them. And that's how Obama plans to win.
He plans to push legislation that will receive a small base of support from liberal Republicans, incentivizing the tea partiers to abandon the GOP come November. He's looking for another McCain Effect, when conservatives were so disaffected by their nominee that they stayed home and allowed Obama to be elected.
Obama's plan starts with cap and trade and immigration.
Many pundits are scratching their heads that President Obama seems to want to push two unpopular bills through the Senate, even in the midst of an economic downturn. The reason is simple: He wants to show tea partiers that their interests do not align with those of the GOP. He wants to dispirit us.
And he might well succeed. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is a backer of both. Few other elected Republicans back cap and trade, but many back immigration reform. If they do, tea partiers will walk away from them the way so many have already walked away from the Republican National Committee.
Here's what the GOP needs to do: All congressional Republicans must sign an open letter to Graham and any other wavering Republican demanding that they embrace the conservative movement. At the very least, this will disassociate conservative Republicans from non-conservative Republicans. At the most, it will convince the liberal Republicans to get in line. It's time for Republicans to stand together on conservatism, not based on party label. United they stand -- divided they fall.
And here's what we need to do: Hold Obama's feet to the fire by holding the GOP's feet to the fire. Anything less, and Obama will have his victory.