STILL TRYING TO MAKE OBAMA ‘THE OTHER’…. A couple of weeks ago, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) argued that Americans know less about President Obama than “any other president in history.” He went on to say — just as “an observation,” of course — that “there’s not much known” about the president’s youth. “We don’t know any of the childhood things,” Barbour said.

Yesterday, a certain former half-term governor tried to push a similar line on Fox News, and even felt compelled to use the president’s middle name.

“Funny, Greta, we are learning more about Christine O’Donnell and her college years and her teenage years and her financial dealings than anybody ever even bothered to ask about Barack Hussein Obama as a candidate and now as our president,” Palin said.

Palin added later that it is “fair to dig in somebody’s past.” She said that if the “lamestream media” did do that digging voters would “find out their associates and beliefs and what formed their beliefs.”

It’s certainly not the first time Palin has cracked about Obama’s past, but we couldn’t find any references to her using his middle name.

No, Palin’s capacity for conspicuous unintelligence hasn’t reached its limit quite yet; thanks for asking.

In case it’s not obvious, it’s worth appreciating how wildly wrong these arguments really are. Ta-Nehisi Coates noted this morning:

How many presidents have published two memoirs of their lives — before and after getting into politics? How many presidents have confessed to drug use? As Jamelle Bouie points out, there’s even the David Remnick biography (which Barack Obama was interviewed for) laying bare the man’s entire life.

I don’t really get it….

It’s ironic that leading right-wing voices continue to suggest that Obama is some kind of stranger when in reality, we know more about this president than any in modern times — his life has literally been an open-book.

The larger point, though, remains the same, and it remains ugly. Far-right leaders are obsessed with characterizing the president as some kind of foreign “other” to be mistrusted and seen as illegitimate. It’s absurd and offensive, but it remains at the center of conservative thought.

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.