BAUER DENOUNCES MUSLIM STAFFERS…. It’s one thing to criticize specific members of the Obama administration because of ideology or policy differences. It’s another to criticize would-be administration officials who haven’t even been identified yet because of religious differences.

Yesterday, Gary Bauer, a religious right leader and former Republican presidential candidate, wrote a column criticizing the mere possibility that the White House might hire aides who are Muslim. (via RWW).

During the presidential campaign, one of the stickiest rumors surrounding Barack Obama was that if he was elected, America could look forward to having a Muslim in the White House. Now that Obama is president, that rumor may prove correct.

President Obama says he’s a Christian, but that doesn’t mean he won’t appoint Muslims to key positions in his administration in return for Muslim support during the election. Muslim groups are fretting that none have been appointed yet, and they want that to change. Polls showed about nine in 10 American Muslims voted for Obama last fall, and they want something to show for it. Don’t be surprised if Obama gives them what they want.

Now, Bauer isn’t complaining about specific Muslim officials in the administration. In fact, he didn’t even say if there are any Muslim officials in the administration. He’s all worked up, though, because the program coordinator for the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association bundled some resumes for White House consideration.

Bauer went on to argue that this is part of a preferred quota system — which exists solely in Bauer’s active imagination — and that the left should be complaining about the separation of mosque and state.

This is so absurd, it’s hard to even know where to start, but let’s just quickly note that there is no quota system in place for administration officials, and hiring staffers for government jobs who happen to be religious is not a violation of the First Amendment. What’s more, there’s no evidence of any political “payback,” rewarding Muslim groups for their support with Muslim staffers.

No, this is just ugly narrow-mindedness from a right-wing leader engaged in the most obnoxious kind of identity politics.

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.