WORSE?…. When it comes to the interest in Harry Reid’s 2006 comments about Obama, race, and the presidential campaign, we’ve gone from “legitimate question” to “overwrought discussion” to “farcical nonsense” with remarkable efficiency.

Yesterday, the Republican argument was that Reid’s comments were just as bad as Trent Lott expressing nostalgia for segregation in 2002. Today, they argument is that Reid’s comments are actually worse.

On MSNBC this morning, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas) argued that Lott “said something that was far more innocuous than the racially tinged comments that Sen. Reid made.” Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has signaled a similar position — he thought Lott’s remarks seven years ago did not warrant his resignation, while Reid’s remarks should prompt the Majority Leader to give up his post.

I realize this is all about playing a foolish partisan game, and reality has no real significance here, but Republicans are not only going too far, they’re inadvertently downplaying the significance of Lott’s racism.

As Rachel Slajda explained:

To compare: Reid said, in a private conversation before the 2008 election, that Obama had a chance to be the first black president because he was “light-skinned” and didn’t have a “Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

Lott, in a televised tribute to Sen. Strom Thurmond for his 100th birthday, said: “I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”

Thurmond ran for president in 1948 on a platform that declared, “We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race.”

Lott also had a history of ties to white supremacist groups.

Here’s a radical thought: if John Cornyn thinks support for a white-supremacist, segregationist platform is “innocuous,” maybe he should resign.

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.