STILL TURNING AROUND THE CORNER…. I keep reminding myself that’s it best not to expect much from the National Review‘s Andy McCarthy. Once a political observer expresses genuine concern about the president’s birth certificate, there’s very little hope for future insightful analysis.

But this McCarthy item, published this morning, was unusually entertaining. The headline reads, “Obama: Student Radical.”

During the campaign, I wrote a piece called “Why Won’t Obama Talk About Columbia? — The years he won’t discuss may explain the Ayers tie he keeps lying about.” So now, nearly six months into the Obama presidency, the mainstream media has finally done a bit of the candidate background reporting it declined to do during the campaign — other than in Wasilla — and whaddya know? The New York Times unearthed a 1983 article called, “Breaking the War Mentality,” that Columbia student Barack Obama wrote for a campus newspaper. The article shows that Obama dreaded American “militarism” and its “military-industrial interests,” while effusing enthusiasm for the dangerously delusional nuclear-freeze movement.

Now, the obvious problem with the underlying argument is the idea that something Obama wrote when he was 22 still has some direct relevance to U.S. foreign and national security policy a quarter-century later. Or, put another way, what on earth difference does it make what the president wrote in a campus newspaper half a lifetime ago?

And if that were the only problem, McCarthy’s piece would merely be annoying. The problems, though, go deeper than that. For example, he argues that the NYT “unearthed” the 1983 article. It was actually dug up months ago.

For that matter, if McCarthy hopes to document the president’s ongoing hostility for “militarism,” he might want to take a look at the size of the president’s defense budget.

While we’re at it, if McCarthy is concerned about presidential weaknesses on “military-industrial interests” and a “delusional nuclear-freeze” policy, he ought to take it up with Eisenhower and Reagan.

But stepping back and considering the big picture, McCarthy’s item reminded me again of something we talked about last week. National Review is, by some measures, the flagship publication of contemporary conservative thought. And yet, this is what it’s reduced to publishing.

Just as the line between the GOP establishment and the unhinged GOP base has become blurred in recent decades, so too has the line between the analysis offered by “serious” and “respectable” conservative voices and the unbalanced tirades put forward by the nutty conservative fringe.

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.