My standards have fallen so far that I’m almost impressed when Mitt Romney attacks Newt Gingrich, and the criticisms (a) aren’t breathtakingly hypocritical; and (b) are grounded in fact.

Here’s the former governor yesterday, talking to the editorial board of the Des Moines Register (apparently after having read David Brooks’ column).

For those who can’t watch clips, here’s what Romney said, differentiating himself from Gingrich:

“I disagree with the Speaker thinking we should eliminate some parts of child labor laws so that kids could clean schools. I don’t think that’s a great idea.

“I saw the Speaker had a measure that I read about that was to put a permanent colony on the moon to mine rare materials from the moon. I think we’ve got some other priorities for our spending before we do that. He even talked about a series of mirrors that we could put in space that would light our highways at night. I’ve got some better ideas for our resources.”

After some brutally-dishonest attacks from Team Romney of late, I like this new line of attack because it’s true. Gingrich actually said all of those things and more.

It opens up a new line of attack, which, unlike the others, seems entirely fair: Romney wants folks to think Gingrich is just looney.

This is a deep well that Romney can return to over and over again. Gingrich’s “big ideas” include giving laptops to the homeless, shooting North Korea with lasers, and touting the benefits of old-school orphanages for children.

Gingrich will likely defend himself against this by saying he was just spit-balling, throwing around off-the-wall ideas, not because he intends to seriously pursue them, but because his pseudo-intellectualism demands it.

I’m not sure whether Romney’s tack will work or not — Republican primary voters are a pretty nutty bunch, who may think Gingrich’s outside-the-box thinking sounds sensible — but given the usual dishonesty coming out of Romney and his team, it’s nice to at least see an argument grounded in reality.

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.