HATCH WAS FOR A MANDATE BEFORE HE WAS AGAINST IT…. When it comes to intellectual dishonesty on health care policy, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has arguably been even worse than most, but this tack, in particular, suggests he’s growing increasingly unhinged.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) argued on Friday that under the Constitution the government cannot force consumers to buy health insurance and said he has joined a legal challenge of the individual mandate in Florida.

“This is not an activity, this is forcing people to buy something they may or may not want to buy and forcing them to buy a certain level of something that they may not want to buy also,” Hatch told Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren. “If the government can do that to us — in other words, if Congress can do that to us, then there’s nothing that the government can’t do to us.”

First of all, a health care insurance mandate isn’t a recipe for unlimited government power over the citizenry, any more so than mandates on mandatory car insurance or mandatory flood insurance for homeowners in some coastal areas. Characterizing this as some kind of creeping “totalitarianism” is a little silly.

But more importantly, maybe now would be a good time to note that none other than Orrin Hatch not only endorsed an individual health care mandate in the ’90s, he literally cosponsored legislation to make it law. Hatch was on national television, railing against a policy he personally tried to use his power in government to enact.

Hatch does realize Google exists, doesn’t he? That his record is fairly easy to look up?

He went on to tell Van Susteren that the Affordable Care Act would “bankrupt the country,” which is an odd argument given that the law reduces the deficit, and that the new system is “socialized medicine,” which is ridiculous on its face.

But hearing Hatch’s hysterics is a reminder about public attitudes towards the new law. I often find it confusing to understand what it is about health care reform Republicans hate so much, but Hatch’s unhinged rant helps make the answer clear — they believe things that aren’t true, because prominent public officials like Hatch are lying to them.

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.