WHEN CRAZY BECOMES ROUTINE…. I’m not sure what’s more troubling — the story itself or the fact that rhetoric like this has become routine enough that it barely registers anymore.

During a recent town hall meeting, New Mexico Republican congressional candidate Steve Pearce cast doubt on President Obama’s citizenship and said that while the economy should be on the top of Republicans’ agenda, he would be “in the fight” if the issue is taken up in Congress.

At the Sept. 30 event in Los Lunas, New Mexico, a woman stood up and asked Pearce if he would “be agreeable to subpoenaing and making him show a birth certificate.” “Because if he is not eligible, because of everything he signed, every bill he signed, every executive order, his czars, our whole government, everything we’re doing is invalid and unconstitutional and illegal,” she said, adding, “I just want to know what is your position on Barack Obama if he is in fact a Kenyan-born, Indonesian Muslim. What is your position on all of this?”

Pearce, a former congressman running for his old seat after a failed Senate bid in ’08, said Birther conspiracy theories are the president’s fault, because, “Barack Obama raised the most significant questions himself.” To bolster the point, Pearce said Obama “traveled to Pakistan” when he was 20 years old, at a time when “it was not legal to go there with a U.S. passport.”

Pearce added that it’s his “understanding” that the U.S. Supreme Court “is actually looking” into questions surrounding the president’s eligibility. In response to additional questioning from the voter, he said he didn’t consider this “our consummate fight,” but assured her that he’s prepared to be “in the fight” over Obama’s citizenship.

As a substantive matter, Pearce has no idea what he’s talking about. His assertions about Americans traveling to Pakistan were debunked months ago when right-wing activists started pushing this nonsense in chain emails. For that matter, the Supreme Court has never expressed any interest in “looking” into such ridiculous questions. Either Pearce was blatantly lying to these voters, or he’s just painfully clueless.

In the bigger picture, GOP congressional candidates who go around spewing garbage like this is par for the course. But therein lies the point — Pearce should be humiliated after a display like this. His remarks should leave him discredited and embarrassed, and ideally, voters would think of him as “that guy who said crazy birther things at a town-hall meeting.”

But in 2010, nonsense is the norm, and Republican congressional candidates seem to face no meaningful consequences for incidents like these.

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.