RACE’S RELEVANCE…. Comments like these really irk me.

Speaking on the House floor this morning, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) told her colleagues, “In a recent article, conservative commentator Thomas Sowell, an African American, examined some of President Obama’s claims about the health care reform legislation moving through the Congress. I wanted to quote some excerpts from his column that I found insightful….”

Now, there’s obviously a problem with a lawmaker finding Thomas Sowell’s analysis of reform proposals “insightful,” but more importantly, why on earth did Foxx find it necessary to highlight Sowell’s race? Since the policy matter at hand had nothing to do with racial, ethnic, or diversity issues, it seems as if Foxx believes the color of Sowell’s skin matters because both Sowell and President Obama are black.

And that’s crazy.

I’m trying to think of how to explain this in a way Foxx would understand. Imagine if, in 2008, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) was speaking on the House floor about Bush’s economic agenda, and said, “In a recent article, progressive columnist Paul Krugman, a white guy, examined….”

That seems ridiculous, right? It is, just as Foxx’s comments were this morning.

It’s worth noting that Foxx is positioning herself as one of Congress’ nuttiest members. As Matt Finkelstein reminded us, “Over the past few months, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) has offered some interesting reasons why she opposes health care reform. In July, she dismissed the idea of a health care crisis when she declared, ‘There are no Americans who don’t have health care.’ Just days later, she suggested that the House reform bill will ‘put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government.’”

She’s not quite in the Bachmann/King/Broun league, but she’s getting there.

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.