RNC ATTACK CAMPAIGN DRAWING REPUBLICAN CRITICS…. Within a few hours of Rod Blagojevich’s arrest, the Republican National Committee was circulating materials to reporters hoping to prove that the governor was closely tied to Barack Obama. As the week progressed, the attacks intensified, reality notwithstanding.

This culminated in a three-minute web video, released over the weekend, featuring evidence of instances in which the senator from Illinois met the governor of Illinois. This was helpful in proving … well, that the RNC is pretty desperate right about now and hard up for content with which to smear Obama.

On Sunday, John McCain distanced himself from the RNC’s efforts, saying there’s corruption in both parties and describing the RNC’s campaign as a distraction.

Today, Newt Gingrich went even further. From a written statement issued by the former House Speaker:

“I was saddened to learn that at a time of national trial, when a president-elect is preparing to take office in the midst of the worst financial crisis in over seventy years, that the Republican National Committee is engaged in the sort of negative, attack politics that the voters rejected in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles.

“The recent web advertisement, “Questions Remain,” is a destructive distraction. Clearly, we should insist that all taped communications regarding the Senate seat should be made public. However, that should be a matter of public policy, not an excuse for political attack. […]

“This ad is a terrible signal to be sending about both the goals of the Republican Party in the midst of the nation’s troubled economic times and about whether we have actually learned anything from the defeats of 2006 and 2008.

“The RNC should pull the ad down immediately.”

Interesting. Now, I won’t presume to know Gingrich is thinking here, and for all I know, his statement was sincere.

But I think his denunciation speaks to a larger strategic truth — there’s just no reason for Republicans to pursue an Obama “connection” with Blagojevich, because, as is obvious by now, there’s nothing linking the president-elect to this scandal. The more efforts the Republicans invest, the more time they waste, and the less credibility they’ll have when their attacks fail to pan out.

Substantively, the RNC is pursuing a scandal that doesn’t exist. Politically, the RNC has nothing to gain by throwing around bogus smears that no one seriously believes anyway, in a time of crisis where tolerance for far-right nonsense is awfully low.

Gingrich, whatever his motivations, is for a change offering his party some good advice.

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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.