As the tea party movement was growing, President Obama and most on the left ignored it, then laughed at it, and now are engaged in fear-mongering, attempting to label participants as "extremists." They are doing so at their own political peril.

Far from merely a gathering of right-wing activists or "extremists," the April 15 tea parties across the land were comprised of many newly minted activists who care deeply about their country and are nervous about the out-of-control spending, bailouts and heavy-handedness of the new Obama presidency.

Fiscal issues tend to unite more often than they divide — and they unite from the right. Far-rightists, centrists and libertarians may disagree on many social issues, but taxation, spending and squandering the future of the United States make them allies. At least half of the 10 issues in the 1994 "Contract with America" that brought us the first Republican Congress in a generation were pocketbook concerns, along with controlling a federal government that seemed to increasingly attempt to control us. Much like now.

Obama and his team would be foolish to continue to thumb their noses at the movement, and downright politically suicidal to launch attacks and paint participants as somehow dangerous. It may be too late for them to pull back. And this just may be the start of the 2010 mid-term election cycle.

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