STATE GOP DEMANDS MORE ‘SOCIALIST’ TALK…. For a few months now, conservative cries about the White House and “socialism” have been as common as they are ridiculous. The absurd rhetoric hasn’t had much of an effect, unless you count the surprising and new-found popularity socialism seems to enjoy.

But for Republican Party leaders, the answer isn’t to come up with a new approach. To undermine the president, they want to see the GOP double down on an attack that doesn’t work.

Republican state party leaders are rebelling against new Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele for failing to dub President Obama and the Democrats as “socialists.” And the rebels insist that the label matters.

Even though Mr. Steele has called his Democratic adversaries “collectivists,” at least 16 state leaders say the term lacks the pejorative punch needed to sway public opinion and want all 168 members of the Republican National Committee to debate and vote on it. […]

“Just as President Reagan’s identification of the Soviet Union as the ‘evil empire’ galvanized opposition to communism, we hope that the accurate depiction of the Democrats as a Socialist Party will galvanize opposition to their march to socialism,” [Indiana RNC member James Bopp Jr. wrote Wednesday in an e-mail to the full RNC membership].

Putting aside the obvious fact that the president is not a socialist, and overlooking the evidence that these attacks haven’t worked at all, what’s striking is that these state Republican leaders seem to think the RNC hasn’t been irresponsible enough in its rhetoric. As Oliver Willis noted, “It’s worth pointing out — again — that this isn’t some outside the party deal. This is the core of the party upset at their incompetent party chairman for not calling the President of the United States a socialist.”

Also note, this might also be evidence of broader trouble for Steele. Bopp and other unhinged state party leaders want to convene an extraordinary meeting of the full committee next month, ostensibly to tell the RNC chairman which ridiculous attacks they prefer he make against the president. To convene such a meeting, the activists would need signatures from RNC members in 16 states. Bopp has a petition signed by members from … 16 states.

The conservative Washington Times noted this is “the first time in memory that a sitting national leader of the Republican Party has faced a public challenge over his ideological leadership by conservative members of his own national committee.”

I guess RNC members haven’t heard about Steele’s plans for going “beyond cutting edge”?

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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.