MEET THE NEW GOP, SAME AS THE OLD…. While Republicans try to reconsider their relevance in American politics, there’s talk of GOP leaders “rebranding” and reevaluating where the party wants to go in the future.

But some habits — such as the Republicans’ twisted demagoguery and fear mongering — are hard to break.

House Republicans want to know: Do you feel safer?

In a remarkable video just released by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and ranking intelligence committee member Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), images of Obama “bowing” to Saudi officials and shaking hands with Hugo Chavez are interspersed with footage of the Pentagon exploding and terrorists doing bad things. All of it is back-dropped by frightening music.

Eek! Obama is keeping his promises and closing Gitmo! He’s honoring the rule of law and forbidding torture! 9/11, 9/11, 9/11! Run for your lives!

Honestly, the video is genuinely pathetic. It’s not the kind of clip that comes from a party anxious to become a national force; it’s the kind of clip a desperate campaign runs with five days to go before the election, down by 25 points in the polls.

The irony is, the Republican video is intended to make Americans afraid. What the video shows, however, is a Republican Party that’s panicking.

A spokesperson for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told Greg Sargent the new GOP video is “forward looking,” adding, “The events of September 11th happened, and pretending they didn’t won’t make America any safer.”

Um, guys? Trying to scare the bejesus out of Americans with images from 9/11 is not “forward looking.” It was offensive in 2002, and insulting in 2004. It’s just cheap in 2009.

I can’t help but wonder if this some sad effort at reclaiming an old mantle. The geniuses in Boehner’s office might have gotten together and thought, “Pictures of explosions and Middle Easterners paid off a few campaign cycles ago; maybe we should go back to that.”

In other words, the day Republicans announce an effort to rebuild their disgraced brand with an eye on 2010 is same day the same Republicans engage in ridiculous demagoguery better suited for 2004.

The GOP’s road to recovery and relevance runs in the other direction.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

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.