It’s probably safe to say the gloves have finally come off.

Late yesterday, Mitt Romney’s Super PAC, Restore Our Future, unveiled a new ad blasting Newt Gingrich on a wide variety of fronts. It’s arguably the most brutal spot of the campaign to date, and it reflects the panic setting in among Romney and his team.

YouTube video

The ad was removed from YouTube soon after it was posted, and PAC officials said the “unfinished” commercial was unveiled prematurely by mistake. (This is probably untrue. It’s more likely the PAC leaked this, hoped to generate buzz for free, and then pretended it was an accident.)

But what I found truly remarkable was the message Romney’s allies put together. Consider the areas of attack: foreclosures, flip-flops, immigration “amnesty,” climate change, and finally, “Newt supported a health care mandate … the centerpiece of ‘Obamacare.’” The spot then relies on a George Will column.

This is just astounding. Does Mitt Romney’s Super PAC know anything about Mitt Romney? He supports foreclosures; he’s the most shameless flip-flopper in a generation; he’s too big a coward to take a stand on immigration; he used to believe in climate change and supported cap and trade; and George Will thinks Romney is “a recidivist reviser of his principles,” who seems to “lack the courage of his absence of convictions.”

As for supporting a health care mandate, Romney has not only championed the idea and included it in his own health care reform law, Romney has also been among the most articulate defenders of health care mandates.

If Gingrich’s support for mandates is a disqualifier in Republican primaries, Romney should have dropped out of the race months ago.

Indeed, the entire ad is so lacking in self-awareness, it should be nothing short of humiliating for Romney. It’s the kind of attack that should lead sensible voters to point and laugh at the ridiculousness.

And yet, Romney’s team just doesn’t seem to care. Why is that? They’ve already told us why: because to Romney and his boosters, the truth is largely irrelevant, campaign messages necessarily constitute “propaganda” that need not be accurate, televised ads are little more than “manipulative pieces of persuasive art,” and there’s nothing especially wrong with sociopathic standards for honesty in the public discourse.

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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.