WHAT MAKES DEMAGOGUERY ‘BENEFICIAL’…. We talked yesterday about the ridiculous new attack video from House Republicans, trying to scare the bejesus out of out Americans with an ad connecting President Obama, torture, Gitmo, 9/11, terrorism, Hugo Chavez, and scary music. The GOP’s use of scare tactics is hardly new, but this seemed more desperate and panicky than usual.

As for the politics of all of this, it seems like an odd choice. The economy is clearly the number one issue on the minds of voters, and whenever the administration takes up an issue that seems unrelated to the economy, Republican lawmakers tend to have a fit. So why launch a new campaign on national security issues?

I found the Republican defense of the scurrilous video pretty interesting.

“We’re quite happy to be talking about national security,” said a House GOP leadership aide, who requested anonymity to speak freely about internal strategy.

“It’s an issue that traditionally plays well for us,” said the aide.

“From a political perspective, it will be beneficial over the long run.”

I feel like I’ve been seeing this a lot in recent weeks. Republicans keep saying that the administration’s national security policies are reckless, and defend the baseless attacks on the notion that they’ll be “beneficial” for the GOP “over the long run.”

Peter Wehner, Bush aide turned media personality, recently had an item that was similar to the House Republicans’ ad, effectively predicting terrorism as a result of the president’s policies.

[Obama] has taken a series of steps that, particularly as it relates to our intelligence agencies and their capacity to protect Americans from mass death, he, and his countrymen, may well come to regret…. The whirligig of time brings in his revenges.

Jon Chait responded to this, arguing, “Is there any way to read this other than as a prediction that terrorists will attack the U.S. again, and conservatives will blame Obama’s anti-torture policies, causing the public to turn on him? Wehner has the requisite disclaimer that he hopes and prays this doesn’t happen, but the rest of the post sure makes it sound like Wehner is waiting for terrorists to vindicate him.”

And the same is true of the new ad from Boehner & Co. I’m not suggesting Republicans and their media allies want to see a terrorist attack on the United States. I’m suggesting that these voices believe an attack is possible, and they seem a little too anxious to lay the groundwork now so they can exploit a tragedy for partisan gain later.

“From a political perspective, it will be beneficial over the long run.” What does that mean, if it doesn’t relate to blaming the president for some unknown future catastrophe?

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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.