AN OPENING FOR DEMOCRATS TO EXPLOIT?…. Yesterday, House Minority Leader John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) office was delighted to endorse the right-wing activists disrupting public events on health care reform. Oddly enough, his Democratic rivals are warming up to the idea, too.

Democratic leaders initially seemed troubled by the far-right bullying tactics, unsure a) how to respond; and b) how to work around those willing to go awfully far to shut down debate. Sam Stein reports that Democratic reform advocates now see the right-wing campaign as a possible opportunity to exploit.

The White House and allied Democrats are ramping up efforts to make belligerent anti-Obama town hall crowds — and the media outlets that feed their resentment — the face of opposition to the president’s health care agenda, aides tell the Huffington Post. […]

As detailed by White House officials and aides at allied groups, the goal going into the August recess is not to be intimidated by the angry protesters laying siege to town hall meetings or the information pushed by unfriendly websites, but rather to turn that anger and material into a rallying point for proponents of reform. […]

The obvious comparison — one DNC aides are actively pushing — is to the crowds that came to define rallies for Sen. John McCain, (R-Arizona) and Sarah Palin during the late stages of the 2008 presidential campaign. Those audiences, which openly questioned Obama’s patriotism and citizenship, may have riled up the conservative base. But they also turned off moderate voters.

Consider the instantly-infamous video taken over the weekend, when right-wing activists — one carrying a sign with Nazi “SS” lettering — tried to intimidate Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D) at an event in Texas. Who’s the sympathetic figure in that video? If the typical American watches the clip, who would he/she want to associate with?

For several weeks, Democratic officials have hoped the public would come to see opponents of health care reform as crazy. Now that the August fights are underway, the right is helping the Democratic message … by acting crazy.

There’s such a thing as “overreach,” and the right is coming perilously close to throwing away its own momentum, as anti-reform, anti-discussion activists shout their way out of the American mainstream.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.