To cleanse the palate, behold the first 2012 attack ad rolled out by Priorities USA, one of those outrageously outrageous outside groups funded by anonymous donors that The One used to dump on at every opportunity. The first lesson of Hopenchange, though, is that getting elected takes priority over principles (see, e.g., his reversal on accepting public financing in 2008), so now top O-bots Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney have struck out “on their own” to form the very same kind of group in his service. (A previous ad whined about the Koch brothers.) Liberals like Russ Feingold who, contrary to O, actually mean what they preach are horrified, but oh well.

I’m keen to gauge reaction in the comments to the possibility that the White House and its near orbit evidently are treating Romney as the frontrunner right now. Is that simply a nod at the fact that he leads, however narrowly, in most major polls and will almost certainly outraise everyone else? If they genuinely do expect to face him next year, they might as well start tearing him down now. Or are they actually trying to inflate him by focusing on him to the exclusion of other major candidates? (Gingrich, also seen here, doesn’t really count.) It’d be insane to run an ad against Pawlenty or Daniels given that they’d both be tough match-ups for The One and that their big problems are name recognition. Any press, even negative press via liberal attacks, is good press for them. Plus, doing so would reveal Team Obama’s anxiety at having to face them; and in fact, Romney’s team is touting this ad in a fundraising e-mail along those lines, no doubt hoping to bolster his conservative authenticity by showcasing the left’s hostility to him. Exit question: Which is it — is the White House worried or do they want to face him?