Maybe the White House should have given up MS-NBC for Lent. While Tea Party activists have campaigned loudly and consistently against the free-spending Democratic Congress and the government overhaul of the American health-care system, Barack Obama seems to have heard a completely different message. While acknowledging that a few of the Tea Party crowd might have legitimate concerns over spending and the debt, Obama told Matt Lauer the core of the group consists of … Birthers:

“President Barack Obama says he believes the Tea Party is built around a ‘core group’ of people who question whether he is a U.S. citizen and believe he is a socialist. But beyond that, Obama tells NBC he recognizes the movement involves ‘folks who have legitimate concerns’ about the national debt and whether the government is taking on too many difficult issues simultaneously.”

The Birther quip is just Obama attempting to paint his opposition as lunatics, a particularly egregious and simultaneously banal Leftist attack. It’s practically taken right from Countdown and Hardball; all it’s missing is the tortured explanation from Keith Olbermann and Howard Fineman about how pickup trucks are racist.  But the “socialist” attack is often heard at Tea Party rallies (unlike Birtherism, which usually gets ignored), and Jim Geraghty explains why:

A guy who has dramatically expanded the federal government’s role in banks, student loans, auto making, health care, real estate, insurance, and energy industries is lamenting that people are calling him a socialist. What more does he have to do before the label becomes less than outlandish, establish SMERSH? Note the not-too-subtle sleight of hand in the way Obama lumps together Birthers with the general opposition to him. I haven’t been to a tea party since last fall, but has anybody seen any signs or chants focusing on the Kenyan Secret Agent theory? Isn’t the general outrage focused a bit more on the here and now and how we’re getting the rawest deal since Arnold Schwarzenegger took on the mob? (Pardon me, I meant the raw f’ing deal, as Vice President Coprolalia would put it.) President Obama, we’ve moved on from your Kenyan birth. It’s time you did the same.

Are you kidding me?  Birthers are the best thing that ever happened to Barack Obama.  If they didn’t exist, he’d have to get Organizing for America to find them.  Otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to distract people from the very accurate description of his European-style nanny state agenda as socialist. Which means that Obama’s paying a little more attention to those Tea Party protests than he wants to let on.

Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.

Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!