In the wake of a bruising battle over the debt ceiling and now a first-ever credit downgrade, Democrats have launched a salvo of rhetorical attacks on the Tea Party and appear determined to blame the movement for everything from the debt crisis to the sputtering economy.

“I think they’re totally unreasonable and doctrinaire and not founded in reality. I think they’ve been smoking some of that tea, not just drinking it,” former Democratic presidential candidate and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said.

The term “Tea Party downgrade” gained currency over the weekend as Democratic leaders took to the airwaves to cast Standard & Poor’s decision to downgrade U.S. credit as a Tea Party-triggered event.

They argue that because the rating agency cited the toxic political environment in its decision, the Tea Party is culpable.

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