Anita Dunn and the White House spent six months coming up with 'ultra MAGA'

As Allahpundit pointed out earlier this week, President Biden has suddenly adopted a new political phrase to define his opponents. That phrase is “ultra MAGA” and this week he carefully pointed to it as the name for the opposite of his own plan for the country.

When he wrote about this Allahpundit guessed that, “they must have focus-grouped this term to the gills to have the president suddenly go all-in on it the way he did today.” And it turns out he was absolutely right. According to a new report from the Washington Post, the White House spent six months coming up with this.

Biden’s attempt to appropriate the “MAGA” brand as a political attack was hardly accidental. It arose from a six-month research project to find the best way to target Republicans, helmed by Biden adviser Anita Dunn and by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a liberal group.

The polling and focus group research by Hart Research and the Global Strategy Group found that “MAGA” was already viewed negatively by voters — more negatively than other phrases like “Trump Republicans.”

In battleground areas, more than twice as many voters said they would be less likely to vote for someone called a “MAGA Republican” than would be more likely. The research also found that the description tapped into the broad agreement among voters that the Republican Party had become more extreme and power-hungry in recent years.

You may remember Dunn as the Obama era White House communications director who once praised Mao Zedong. But she’s now part of a revolving door of communications staffers who go back and forth between the Biden administration and SKDK the firm where Dunn works (she’s the D in the name). In March, when Dunn was on her second stint with the current White House the Post published a chart showing some of the connections.

Dunn in particular has gone back and forth while carefully avoiding government disclosure and ethics rules:

Neither SKDK nor Dunn lobby or represent any clients on matters before the federal government, according to a person close to Dunn, who like others interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private interactions. Still, Dunn’s role is questioned by some ethics experts, who say she has, by design or not, avoided rules meant to promote transparency.

They cite two main issues: Due to her temporary status and income slightly below a preestablished threshold of $132,552, Dunn did not have to file a public financial disclosure that would have probably shed new light on her clients at SKDK. As a temporary employee, she also did not have to sign the Biden ethics pledge, allowing her to operate by a narrower set of ethics guidelines than regular employees.

Dunn was announced as returning to the White House for another semi-permanent stint earlier this month at the same time it was announce that Jen Psaki would be stepping down as Press Secretary.

In any case, the term “ultra MAGA” doesn’t seem to have offended many fans of president Trump who have already embraced it.

Trump’s Save America super PAC sent out a fundraising email featuring a $45 T-shirt bearing the image of Trump as Superman — a Trump “T” stretched across his chest rather than Superman’s iconic “S” — flying below the banner of “SUPERMAGA” in a red-and-yellow comic book font.

“Did you hear what Joe Biden called us? He said we were an EXTREME POLITICAL ORGANIZATION. He said we were ULTRA MAGA,” read the email pitch. “Well … If loving your Country and wanting to put AMERICA FIRST makes you ULTRA MAGA, then yes. WE ARE ULTRA MAGA.”

And Wednesday night, Trump also blasted out a meme featuring himself as Aragorn — a selfless hero of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy — complete with the caption, “The Return of the Great MAGA King.”

“This is something that admits the power and influence of the MAGA movement and President Trump’s strength over the party, and for some reason Biden thinks that’s an insult,” said Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich. “I don’t understand what he’s trying to achieve, especially given that right about now, whether you’re a mother trying to feed your child who needs formula or someone trying to fill up your car, ultra MAGA sounds pretty good.”

I don’t think it’s very hard to understand what Dunn and the White House hope to achieve with this. The left is facing bad news on every conceivable front heading into the 2022 midterms. On some level they must realize their only hope at bringing their base to the polls is to nationalize the election and run against Trump. As the New Republic put it today, “If You Can’t Love Biden, He’ll Settle for You Hating Trump.” After 18 months of failure, “Ultra MAGA” really is the best they can come up with as a reason to vote for Democrats.