You know the old expression “too clever by half?” It’s not a compliment. And though I am loathe to describe Democratic strategists as “clever,” I grudgingly acknowledge that they exhibit a certain low cunning that, on occasion, can be effective.

We saw it on full display early on in the 2016 presidential election campaign when clever Dems were falling all over themselves to support the ridiculous candidate Donald Trump. He could never win, of course, but the ploy was good for a laugh and would hurt whatever serious candidates were running against Hillary.

To almost everyone’s surprise,...

You know the old expression “too clever by half?” It’s not a compliment. And though I am loathe to describe Democratic strategists as “clever,” I grudgingly acknowledge that they exhibit a certain low cunning that, on occasion, can be effective.

We saw it on full display early on in the 2016 presidential election campaign when clever Dems were falling all over themselves to support the ridiculous candidate Donald Trump. He could never win, of course, but the ploy was good for a laugh and would hurt whatever serious candidates were running against Hillary.

To almost everyone’s surprise, things didn’t work out quite as expected that time. But old habits are hard to break.

As we enter the home stretch of the midterms, clever Dems are once again mobilizing to support “extremist” candidates, i.e., those endorsed by boogeyman #1, Donald Trump. Thinking the support of the Bad Orange Man will be the mark of Cain, for candidates in iffy races, Dems are covertly, and sometimes not so covertly, rallying around America First, MAGA candidates.

The Guardian explains, or rather shows, how it works. “How a Trump-backed ‘QAnon whack job’ won with Democratic ‘collusion’,” a recent headline screamed. “Republican Dan Cox won nomination for Maryland governor,” the story continues, “but current governor says that was thanks to Democrats promoting extremist opponents they think will be easier prey.” “Extremist opponents,” you see.

I don’t have a predication about the Maryland gubernatorial race, though I will note that many pollsters say it “leans Democratic.” Maybe the Trump-endorsed Cox will lose to Wes Moore. We’ll see.

But I suspect the Dems will find that their strategy, though clever-sounding, is in general less effective than they predict. It will be interesting to see what happens in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race, for example. There was a certain amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth on all sides when the Trump-endorsed Doug Mastriano won the GOP primary. He was too “extreme,” was tainted by association with Trump, could never win, etc., etc.

Maybe that is right. I don’t claim to know. But I raised an eyebrow when I saw a story, in the left-leaning Politico no less, that the candidate Dems boosted because he was a “MAGA longshot” now has “a real shot at winning.” The race is “frighteningly close,” said one Democratic supporter. It wasn’t supposed to be, but there you are.

Why is this happening? Partly, I think, it’s because Dems don’t understand the story of Br’er Rabbit and the briar patch. The Dems think that branding someone as UltraMAGA™ will turn off voters. After all, that meant that the person had the support of Voldemort, otherwise know as Donald Trump. Isn’t that the kiss of death? Just listen to Liz Cheney, future representative of Georgetown. She has decreed that Donald Trump cannot be president again, ergo no one endorsed by Trump can survive. Q.E.D.

I rather doubt that is going to be how things go down, however. Donald Trump is supported, avidly, by tens of millions of people. Most do not live in Washington, DC, New York, California or cities that are home to major universities. But those locales do not define mainstream America, sad though that is to report. Br’er Rabbit pleaded with the fox not to toss him into the briar patch. You know how that story ended. I suspect we’re going to see a lot of unhappy foxes and chortling, home-free rabbits come November.