According to Obama, the movement is a "loose amalgam" whose "core" consists of "folks who just weren't sure whether I was born in the United States, whether I was a socialist." Around that core, the president acknowledges, is a "broader circle of people, who are legitimately concerned about the deficit, who are legitimately concerned that the federal government may be taking on too much."
Paul Mirengoff doesn't have much nice to say about Obama's analysis, but he fails to say that Obama has it exactly backwards.
The Tea Party is, at is "core," peopled by Americans who "are legitimately concerned about the deficit" and are "legitimately concerned that the federal government may be taking on too much." Around that core, at the exterior fringes, are the "birthers" — though closer in are people who have good reason to believe his history and policy proposals reveal a socialist at heart. Give Obama points for the cleverness in linking them together, delegitimizing discussion of the political philosophy of the empty vessel we elected president.
As Mirengoff notes, Obama's perception of the Tea Party movement as a tiny, insignificant bunch of unhinged crazies is not an informed opinion — but one that "stems from the same condescending a priori leftist narrative" reflected in his "famous comment that working-class voters in Pennsylvania and the Midwest" are a bunch of Bible-thumping, gun-hugging simpletons ... more or less.
There's no penalty for me, or the public, supposing Obama dismissively thinks of non-elites on the coast in this fashion. But I reckon there will be a political penalty for Obama thinking what he thinks about the Tea Party folks. Ignorance in politics is not bliss.