Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has been seen in front of a lot of empty lots and dilapidated buildings lately, and it’s apparently part of some kind of larger economic message: if the former governor can find businesses that failed, it’s proof that President Obama’s policies don’t work.

It’s best not to think too much about the underlying points of the argument, because they don’t really make any sense. After all, if Democrats point to a business that’s thrived since 2009, by Romney’s logic, it would mean the president is necessarily a genius.

In any case, there are more specific problems with Romney’s little tour. For example, a few weeks ago, he appeared in front of the Allentown Metal Works plant in Pennsylvania. It’s closed its doors, which the GOP candidates blamed on the White House. A closer look showed the opposite — the business had been reeling for year, and was brought down by mismanagement. The plant hoped to get a boost from the Recovery Act, but the spending package wasn’t big enough. This hardly bolsters Romney’s case — it actually does the opposite.

This week, Romney ran into a similar problem, exploiting a dilapidated California shopping center for his own purposes. Benjy Sarlin reports that Romney is once again stuck with a bad example.

Valley Plaza’s troubles began in 1994, when it was badly damaged in the Northridge earthquake. Purchased by developer J.H. Snyder, attempts to redevelop the site in 1999 and 2003 stalled, well before President Obama took over or the recession even began.

The recession dealt Valley Plaza the final blow as Snyder defaulted on their loan this year and decided it was too expensive to refinance. So their creditor, iStar, owned by a major Romney donor Jay Sugarman, foreclosed on the property and shut down the struggling development push.

Romney blaming Obama for this is ridiculous, even for him. Unless the Republican candidate thinks the president can go back in time and prevent earthquakes, this attack is more than a little pathetic.

Look, I realize Romney is embarrassed by his atrocious record on job creation. But these little stunts would be less ridiculous if he and his campaign would just take the time to think things through a litte.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

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.