PRE-RECESSION MENTALITY…. I can’t help but wonder if Mark Sanford is smart enough to tie his shoelaces in the morning. At this point, I doubt it.

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford plans to ask President Obama for permission to use part of his state’s stimulus money to pay down its debt, not on new spending, according to a letter he sent state legislators Tuesday.

A longtime opponent of the president’s nearly $800 billion stimulus package, the Republican governor told his state’s lawmakers that spending approximately $700 million in money coming from the federal government would only make the state’s financial situation worse in the long term.

“[W]hen one is in a hole, the first order of business is to stop digging,” Sanford wrote in the letter obtained by CNN Tuesday.

This guy believes government spending got us into this hole? What planet is he on? The whole point of stimulus spending is to deal with the hole we’ve fallen into by filling the hole. The federal government is sending a fire-engine to put out a fire, and the governor of South Carolina is saying he’d like to instead fill his strategic water reserves for future use. Better yet, Sanford has said he wants to reject $700 million in stimulus funds unless the White House endorses his request (if the administration insists on using the water to put out the fire, he’d prefer not to have the water).

Sanford added that his approach is intended to end the economic crisis quickly: “[L]et’s get this thing over with, let’s not drag it on.”

This is completely insane. If voters in South Carolina have a recall mechanism for governors, now might be a good time to start organizing. Sanford, for reasons that defy comprehension, seems intent on making his own state’s economic crisis much worse. No state should be subjected to such destructive and reckless “leadership.”

Responding to the madness emanating from the minority on economics, Paul Krugman asked yesterday, “[T]his is what the leaders of a powerful, if minority, party think. Can this country be saved?” Perhaps, but rejecting the utter nonsense coming from people like Sanford, Boehner, and Cantor is a necessary prerequisite.

I was talking to some friends the other day who were pleased to see leading Republicans devolve into incoherent clowns in the midst of a crisis. As the GOP becomes a national laughingstock, it becomes less relevant and its chances of winning elections diminish.

There’s something to this, but I take a different approach. In the midst of a genuinely scary crisis, I desperately want Republicans to stop being insane. I’d love to see the Republican leaders grow up, come to terms with the seriousness of the times, and start trying to help the country for a change. I’m quite certain that politics and our discourse in general would benefit from a non-moronic minority party, just as I’m fairly sure the Republicans’ intellectual bankruptcy has a detrimental effect on public policy, even with Democrats in the majority.

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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.