NOT BACKING DOWN AN INCH…. For good or ill, the Obama White House is generally reluctant to throw elbows. But when it comes to the Abdulmutallab case, in the face of breathtakingly dishonest nonsense, the president’s team hasn’t backed down an inch, and has embraced a tone with a sharp edge. Today, the White House called out one of more ridiculous critics by name.

The White House excoriated Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) on Thursday for politicizing the ongoing investigation into the Flight 253 terror plot.

Bond asserted earlier this week that top counterterrorism chief John Brennan ought to be fired, in part because he and other national security advisers were wrong to read suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab his Miranda rights. He later added that Brennan was not “credible” and had thus become the “mouthpiece of the political arm” of the White House.

However, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs aggressively dismissed that line on Thursday, remarking: “I don’t know whether Kit Bond was confused or whether he just doesn’t want to admit the truth.”

Responding to the notion that Bond was notified of Abdulmutallab arrest, but not of Abdulmutallab being Mirandized, Gibbs told reporters, “I’ll let you … just ask Kit Bond if he understands the protocols of how the FBI handles suspects.”

And that’s basically what it comes down to. After all of Bond’s foolish claims were easily debunked, what we’re left with is a clownish senator complaining about his own ignorance of FBI protocols. Seriously, that’s all Republicans have left.

Why Republicans think this debate has a political upside for them is less clear. They probably assume any discussion about national security necessarily benefits the GOP — even if Republicans are made to look like incompetent fools in the process — but the White House pushback has been both aggressive and accurate.

The GOP will probably keep trying — they can’t help themselves — but they’re losing this debate. Badly.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

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.