THE LENGTHS SOME WILL GO TO IMPRESS THE GOP BASE…. The fight over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” came to a satisfying end in December, when Congress repealed the discriminatory policy with bipartisan support. And yet, some dead-enders just can’t let it go. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (R) is arguably the most ridiculous.

It’s bad enough on Capitol Hill. Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), the new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s military personnel panel, has vowed to fight to bring DADT back, and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) is looking for ways to prevent implementation.

But Pawlenty, the all-but-announced GOP presidential candidate, is apparently trying to distinguish himself from his rivals through homophobia. In January, the former governor announced he would “support reinstating” the repealed, discriminatory policy. Yesterday, Pawlenty went even further, when pressed by Igor Volsky at an event in Iowa.

Pawlenty: We have to pay great deference, I think to those combat units, their sentiments and their leaders. That’s one of the reasons why I said we shouldn’t have repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and I would support reinstatement.

Volsky: And rescinding the funds for implementation, implementation of repeal?

Pawlenty: That would be a reasonable step as well.

So, let me get this straight. The DADT repeal effort was backed by the Pentagon, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, most American servicemen and women, the vast majority of the public, bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate, and the White House. Conservatives nevertheless fought to keep the old policy, but lost.

And despite all of this, Tim Pawlenty is so desperate to impress unhinged, right-wing activists in Iowa, he wants to not only bring back the unpopular, discriminatory, and ineffective policy, he thinks it’s “reasonable” to deny the Defense Department funding to implement its own policies.

I’m inclined to call Pawlenty a DADT “dead-ender,” but I’m not even sure he believes his own nonsense. It seems more likely this is just shameless, cynical pandering, which is arguably worse than garden-variety hate.

But as long as Pawlenty’s pushing this, maybe it should be another 2012 litmus test for the GOP field. We now have one candidate who wants to reinstate DADT and block funding for the military to prevent its implementation. What does the rest of the burgeoning field have to say about this? Romney? Huckabee? Gingrich? Barbour?

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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.