PETE HOEKSTRA, SHAMELESS BUFFOON…. Speculation about terrorist plots based on limited information is a fool’s game. We know very little about Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab’s attempts on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 yesterday, though there are some pretty obvious questions about how he got materials on board, how dangerous they were, and what his associations may be.

Responsible federal officials will wait to get a more detailed picture before popping off in the media, making reckless accusations. Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R) of Michigan, inexplicably the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, has not yet been briefed on yesterday’s incident, but that hasn’t stopped him from trying to exploit the Abdulmutallab matter to score some cheap partisan points.

“It’s not surprising,” U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, a Holland Republican, said of the alleged terrorist attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight in Detroit. … “People have got to start connecting the dots here and maybe this is the thing that will connect the dots for the Obama administration,” Hoekstra said.

It’s not even clear what that means, exactly, though Hoekstra was apparently offended that an Obama administration official described the incident as an “attempted” terrorist attack when, as far as Hoekstra is concerned, “it was a terrorist attack.”

How such a world-class buffoon became the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee remains an open question, though it continues to be something of an embarrassment for the Republican caucus.

There are a couple of angles to this to keep in mind. First, Hoekstra would like people to believe the Obama administration isn’t taking the terrorist threat seriously enough. The evidence to the contrary — a.k.a. “reality” — is overwhelming.

Second, when it comes to national security issues, Hoekstra has one of the more transparently ridiculous track records of any member of Congress in recent memory. We are, after all, talking about a partisan clown who held a press conference in 2006 to announce, “We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”

And third, yesterday’s pettiness probably has something to do with Hoekstra’s gubernatorial campaign — he needs to impress the GOP base to win his primary, and he likely assumes cheap shots at the president in light of attempted terrorism is the way to get a bump in the polls.

One can hope the opposite will occur. Even Republican primary voters should be disgusted by Hoekstra’s shameless hackery on this.

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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.