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.