WE HAVE A WINNER…. The competition has been fierce, but I think we can safely hand out the award for The Most Spectacularly Ridiculous Column Written About Health Care Reform to Pat Buchanan. This 840-word monstrosity is hard to read without wincing.

Ed Kilgore does a terrific job highlighting the blisteringly stupid errors of fact and judgment Buchanan makes, but let’s quickly run through the highlights.

Buchanan’s basic pitch is that health care reform will necessarily prompt the government to encourage senior citizens to die. In fact, the far-right demagogue said “there is little doubt as to what is coming” — a U.S. system that resembles “de-Christianized Europe,” where, apparently, governments routinely try to snuff out their grandparents.

Beneath this controversy lie conflicting concepts about life.

To traditional Christians, God is the author of life and innocent life, be it of the unborn or terminally ill, may not be taken. Heroic means to keep the dying alive are not necessary, but to advance a natural death by assisting a suicide or euthanasia is a violation of the God’s commandment, Thou shalt not kill.

To secularists and atheists who believe life begins and ends here, however, the woman alone decides whether her unborn child lives, and the terminally ill and elderly, and those closest to them, have the final say as to when their lives shall end. As it would be cruel to let one’s cat or dog spend its last months or weeks in terrible pain, they argue, why would one allow one’s parents to endure such agony?

Yes, the same man who helped popularize the phrase “culture war” in 1992 believes health care reform should be defeated because its proponents’ moral and spiritual failings might lead to the death of millions.

Buchanan proceeds to compare the non-existent Democratic campaign to kill off old people to “Hitler’s Third Reich, marrying Social Darwinism to Aryan racial supremacy.”

As Kilgore concluded, “So in one short column, Buchanan manages to associate ‘Obamacare’ with the intentional infliction of pain on seniors to encourage them to commit suicide, as part of an anti-Christian and proto-Nazi drive to destroy ‘the sanctity of life.’”

I’d just add that Buchanan, merit notwithstanding, remains a prominent political figure. A column like this would, under sane circumstances, make him something of a laughing stock, and yet we can probably measure in days, if not hours, how long it will be before he’s back in front of a national television audience.

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.