SITTING DOWN WITH THE CRAZIES…. It’s not unusual for congressional offices, especially those in the leadership, to chat with all kinds of interest groups and community leaders. It’s not necessarily evidence of an endorsement when staffers for Rep. Smith has a meeting with representatives of Americans for America.

Having said that, one would like to hope that the incoming Speaker would keep dangerous radicals at arm’s length. He’s not.

It is no secret that Randall Terry is an attention-seeking right-wing zealot, always on the lookout for ways to get his name in the press.

From burning effigies of Nancy Pelosi or Lindsey Graham to destroying Korans and protesting outside the school attended by President Obama’s daughters, Terry is constantly working to draw attention to his cause … mainly as a means to draw attention to himself.

And all of that self-aggrandizement occasionally pays of, as it helps Terry to secure meetings with incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner’s Chief of Staff….

Terry released a photo of the meeting, and then emailed his supporters, explaining that the anti-abortion extremist demanded that Boehner end all abortion rights in the country. “We Must Play Hard Ball,” his email read. “They Must Fear Pro-Lifers!”

Terry has been around for a while, and his extremism has largely kept him from the Republican mainstream. Tanya Somanader also noted some of his recent antics:

During the health care reform debate, he was nearly arrested outside a Tennessee federal courthouse for stabbing baby dolls. During Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation, Terry launched a “defeat Sotomayor” roadshow with fliers dubbing her the “Angel of Death.” Turning on Democratic leadership, he also launched a contest “Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid BURN IN HELL!” video contest complete with demonstration. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also earned an effigy burning tour for voting to confirm Justice Elena Kagan.

Not satisfied with just focusing on politicians, Terry targeted President Obama’s children by touting aborted baby pictures outside their school. He even blamed Dr. George Tiller — a Kansas doctor murdered for administering abortions — for his own death.

Again, I realize Boehner’s office didn’t endorse Terry’s madness, but when an incoming House Speaker takes the time to meet in private with an extremist like this, it’s unsettling. I’m trying to imagine a comparable situation — it’s surprisingly difficult to come up with comparable liberal radicals — but I suppose one might wonder what the Republican/Fox News reaction would be if Speaker Pelosi’s chief of staff chatted with the leadership of Earth First. I suspect it’d be a politically significant story worthy of quite a bit of complaints and attention.

If Boehner’s office could simply acknowledge that the discussion with Terry was just a courtesy, and that the incoming Speaker has no tolerance for Terry’s brand of extremism, I’m sure many of us would feel a bit better.

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.