THE MYSTERIOUS MR. HATCH…. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah has to be one of the stranger members of the Senate. Lately, it’s hard not to watch him without shaking one’s head and wondering what on earth is wrong with the guy.

The 75-year-old conservative has repeatedly been confused and cantankerous in recent months, repeating obvious falsehoods after being confronted with facts, and recently threatening to kick progressive activists “in the teeth.”

A month ago, he described health care reform as an elaborate, “diabolical” scheme to destroy the “two-party system.” Soon after, describing the debate, Hatch said, “It’s going to be a holy war.” This week, he gave a speech on the Senate floor, insisting that the length of the health care bill is “enough to make you barf.” A day later, he said Democrats are “doggone stupid” because they believe government stimulus can improve the economy.

Now, it seems his memory is fading. Hatch delivered an hour-long speech dreaming of the day when Republicans control the levers of government power:

“This will become one more example of the arrogance of power being exerted since the Democrats secured a 60-vote majority in the United States Senate and took over the House and the White House. I dream some day of having the Republicans have 60 votes. I’ll tell you one thing, I think we would finally have the total responsibility to get this country under control and I believe we would. But we never come close to that.

“There are essentially no checks and balances found in Washington today — just an arrogance of power with one party ramming through unpopular and devastating proposals one after the other.” [emphasis added]

Now, Republicans didn’t get to a 60-vote majority, but it was just a few years ago that the GOP held the White House, the Senate, the House, and majority of the governor’s offices. Democratic filibusters didn’t block any major Republican priorities, and the GOP was in a position to largely do as it pleased.

Did Hatch and his Republican cohorts “get this country under control”? Not so much. The results of GOP rule included an economic crisis, a crushing debt, two wars, a housing crisis, a health care crisis, a failing energy policy, and a job market in the toilet. Republican rule was nothing short of a disaster for the United States on practically every front.

Hatch may “dream” of another bite at the apple, but it sounds more like a nightmare.

As for the notion that there are “essentially no checks and balances found in Washington today,” I’d encourage Hatch to take a closer look at current events. President Obama presented Congress with an ambitious agenda — which Congress is struggling mightily to pass.

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.