The attacks on Mitt Romney by Newt Gingrich are misguided and harmful. But I’m not sure any of this is necessarily helpful to President Obama.

First, a decision by voters between the president and his Republican opponent is a long way away. Next November, nobody will say, “you remember those tough ads Gingrich ran back in January? Well, I decided then and there that Obama is what we need for the next four years.”

Second, and I can’t stress this enough, whoever our nominee is needs a baptism by fire. Every mistake, innuendo and negative needs a full airing in the primaries. We don’t need any distracting surprises this fall, even though there will inevitably be a few. President Obama will be much tougher on our nominee in the general election than anything the GOP candidates can say about each other today.

And last, the attacks are somewhat discounted when you consider the source. This is Newt becoming more of a caricature than he already is. He is the GOP bad-guy: Smart and interesting, but also over-the-top and extreme. He wounds Romney, tarnishes the party and enshrines his own negative image. This is my take and, keep in mind, I’m a Newt fan.