PAWLENTY STRUGGLES TO KEEP UP WITH CURRENT EVENTS…. I don’t expect much from Tim Pawlenty. He has a presidential campaign to prepare, and a right-wing base to pander to, so it’s inevitable that much of his rhetoric will be cheap and silly.

But this is ridiculous, even for Pawlenty.

Add Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) to the list politicians with selective memory about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s global outreach on behalf of the United States.

Pawlenty, a presidential hopeful for 2012, appeared on Fox News’ “Hannity” last night to decry Obama’s support for the Islamic cultural center proposed by Rauf’s Cordoba House at a site two blocks from Ground Zero. He also criticized the State Department for sending Rauf on a diplomatic mission to the Middle East, saying that was “disgusting” and “dangerous.”

“To have him be the leader not just of this mosque but to hire him through the State Department and send him around the world on our behalf is ridiculous,” Pawlenty told Sean Hannity. “It is quite quite dangerous, quite concerning.”

Now, Pawlenty doesn’t know anything about national security, diplomacy, or foreign policy, so it stands to reason that he’d be confused about this. But he should at least try to keep up with current events before talking nonsense on national television.

As Adam Serwer reported last week, the State Department has “a long-term relationship” with Rauf — which includes the Bush administration also sending him to the Middle East to assist with the U.S. diplomatic agenda in the region.

Was that “quite, quite dangerous,” too?

For that matter, the FBI partnered with Rauf in 2003 on counter-terrorism efforts. Indeed, the FBI considered him an ally and one of New York’s most respected Muslim voices.

Was that “ridiculous,” too?

It’s ironic — every time Pawlenty takes steps to seem more credible, he ends up looking more foolish.

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.