The desire for change — an emotion one step short of anger — was what propelled Obama into the White House. As the Tea Party gained attention, he could have made common cause with it — not on social issues, of course, but these are not as important as economic ones.
Those and a general distrust of government are what motivate most Tea Party members, The Post discovered. Their allegiance to any political party is minimal. Obama, with almost no political record, might have made inroads with these people. Instead, he managed to become the personification of Big Government — not just with his programs (necessary though they might be) but with his persona and isolation in the White House. He banned lobbyists but managed to transform himself into the biggest one of all. He blew it.
The Tea Party is here to stay if only because the Internet is here to stay. But its emotions and its grievances can be co-opted, engulfed, absorbed and made part of the engine of change that Obama himself once both personified and promised. As I recall, the original Tea Party was open to anyone. All you needed for admittance was anger.