‘TINY’…. I’ll give the McCain campaign credit for one thing: these guys are among the most accomplished liars in a generation. Sure, some shameless charlatans have come and gone over the last few decades, but when it comes to genuine, almost pathological, dishonesty, the McCain campaign is setting the bar very high (or low, depending on one’s perspective).

This morning, for example, the presumptive Republican nominee released a new ad, called, “Tiny.” Whether this is a real ad, or just another scam to fool the news networks is unclear, but the message is interesting enough to consider in its own right. The voiceover tells the viewer:

“Iran. Radical Islamic government. Known sponsors of terrorism. Developing nuclear capabilities to ‘generate power’ but threatening to eliminate Israel.

“Obama says Iran is a ‘tiny’ country, ‘doesn’t pose a serious threat.’ Terrorism, destroying Israel, those aren’t ‘serious threats’?

“Obama — dangerously unprepared to be president.”

And here’s what Obama actually said, back in May:

“Strong countries and strong Presidents talk to their adversaries. That’s what Kennedy did with Khrushchev. That’s what Reagan did with Gorbachev. That’s what Nixon did with Mao. I mean, think about it: Iran, Cuba, Venezuela — these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don’t pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us. And yet we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying, ‘We’re going to wipe you off the planet.’ And ultimately, that direct engagement led to a series of measures that helped prevent nuclear war and over time allowed the kind of opening that brought down the Berlin Wall.”

If McCain disagrees with this, fine, let him make his case. But that would require intellectual seriousness and integrity, both of which have gone missing at McCain campaign HQ.

Look, this isn’t complicated. During the cold war, the former USSR was “the world’s greatest land military power, with a massive strategic nuclear capacity that carried on a multi-decade ideological struggle” with the United States. Iran, meanwhile, has an economy the size of Finland’s, an annual defense budget of around $4.8 billion, and hasn’t invaded a country since the late 18th century.

Anyone who thinks the threat posed by modern-day Iran is similar, both in size and scope, to a former nuclear superpower is just blisteringly dumb. Kind of like the new McCain ad.

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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.