JUDD GREGG’S QUEST FOR ATONEMENT…. I’m not exactly sure why Judd Gregg has decided to lead an increasingly nasty line of attacks against Obama. On a purely personal level, you would think that Gregg would be grateful for Obama’s vote of confidence. But not so much. Yesterday, Gregg delivered the Republican weekly address and quite graciously noted the following:

He also is proposing the largest tax increase in history, much of it aimed at taxing small business people who have been, over the years, the best job creators in our economy[.] These are staggering numbers . . . and represent an extraordinary move of our government to the left.

Steve offered more examples last week. Again, what’s strange is not so much Gregg’s opposition, but his aggressive and gratuitous tone. So I have a few potential theories about why Gregg has gone the full Hannity on Obama.

First, maybe it’s just something personal. We still don’t know what exactly led Gregg to change his mind. Maybe he felt slighted in some way. Maybe Rahm didn’t smile at him. Who knows. Given Obama’s nature and willingness to accommodate, it’s hard to believe he was personally stiffed (or if so, that it couldn’t be remedied). But who knows. One thing I do know, though, is that the idea that Gregg was simply unaware that Obama had proposed more spending is absurd.

Second, maybe Gregg has simply been freed from political constraints and is now showing his true ideological colors. Perhaps his perceived moderateness has simply been a function of New Hampshire political realities. Because he is retiring, however, he no longer has to worry about pleasing the median New Hamsphire voter, and is therefore drifting right.

Still, this one seems unsatisfying. Presumably, he knew he would retire when he accepted the cabinet position. If he had been this desperate to escape his life of silent moderate desperation, why accept the position in the first place? Instead, he could have declined, announced his Senate retirement, and then started his new authentic life as a hardcore ideological conservative.

That’s why the most likely explanation (to me) is simply that he suddenly realized that he still needs the good graces of Republicans in the future for some reason. Maybe he still has political ambitions (future appointments?). Maybe he wants to cash out and go make tons of money on K Street. Either way, he needs to show that he’s “on the team” following his act of high treason.

Obviously, I’m speculating — I don’t know what’s going on. But the over-the-top and ostentatious aggression seems more like someone who really really wants the public to know that he opposes Obama. It’s just weird.