DADT DEAD-ENDERS NEED TO GET OVER IT…. To listen to high-profile Republicans, including credible presidential candidates, you’d think the fight over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was still ongoing. It’s not — the debate ended months ago, and the right lost.

But the list of prominent dead-enders is surprisingly long. This week, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) sat down with Bryan Fischer, an extremist in the religious right movement, and promised to reinstate the DADT policy. Indeed, asked if he’d bring back the ban, Barbour said, “Of course.”

“[I]t’s not necessarily over homosexuality. It’s over the fact that when you’re under fire and people are living and dying of split-second decisions you don’t need any kind of amorous mindset that can effect saving people’s lives and killing bad guys. […]

“I think it ought to be rolled back. I just don’t see how you can take any other position if the person you are trying to protect is the soldier who is actually in combat.”

As a substantive matter, this is all pretty silly. But note the larger context — months after DADT repeal was approved by large, bipartisan majorities, with the support of the Pentagon, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and the vast majority of the American public, Republicans just can’t let this go.

At the national level, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), a former moderate, announced in January he would “support reinstating” the unpopular and discriminatory policy. This week, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) also promised to bring back the old law.

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

This is pretty pathetic. I can appreciate the need to pander to homophobes and the electoral value of hate in Republican politics, but even the most hysterical conservatives have to realize this one’s over. It’s time to move on.

But they won’t. On the contrary, with Barbour, Huckabee, and Pawlenty all publicly supporting reinstatement, it’s possible, if not likely, that this might become another 2012 litmus test for the GOP field. The party’s base may expect nothing less.

Postscript: It’s worth noting that Barbour, Huckabee, and Pawlenty all announced their position on this to the same guy: the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer. As these leading Republicans probably know, Fischer is one of the nation’s most hate-filled nuts . We’re talking about a hysterical right-wing clown who wants Muslim Americans to be “deported” (to where is unclear); equates gay sex with “domestic terrorism,” and is convinced that the U.S. military is being run by “fundamentalist Muslims and homosexual activists.”

On Wednesday, he argued on the air that Muslim Americans do not deserve protection under the First Amendment. Over the next 48 hours, Bachmann, Gingrich, Huckabee, and Barbour appeared on his show anyway. Try to imagine what would happen if a liberal extremist spewed hate like this every day, and prominent Democrats pandered to him on a regular basis.

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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.