After the debate last night, Mitt Romney spoke to Fox News’ Sean Hannity and made a rather remarkable claim. Here’s a transcript of the relevant portion:

Hannity: The president has been using class warfare as we know. He says Republicans want dirty air, dirty water. Says Republicans want old people, kids with autism and Down’s syndrome to fend for themselves. Pretty outrageous charges.

Romney: Shameful. It’s really shameful.

Hannity: Explain, and how do you counter that if you get this nomination?

Romney: You know, I think the president has gone from being a failed presidency, a guy over his head, to someone who is now so desperate to get re-election that he’s doing things that are very much counter to the interest of the country and he knows it. In the past I think he was just misguided. Now I think he really knows that his decision in Afghanistan to pull the troops out a couple of months earlier than commanders suggested. That was not a wise, not a wise thing for the country. The Keystone pipeline, he knows we need that oil, he knows the consequences. [emphasis added]

Let’s quickly note that these two Republicans are confused. Have congressional Republicans pursued an agenda of dirty air, dirty water, and fewer benefits for disabled children? Actually, yes, they have. It’s not a matter of opinion — it’s an objective truth that GOP lawmakers really have pursued an agenda of dirty air, dirty water, and fewer benefits for disabled children. If Hannity considers the Republican agenda “outrageous,” and Romney thinks the Republican agenda is “shameful,” they should take it up with members of their own party. There’s nothing wrong with the president pointing out the facts.

But the more important point here is the notion that Romney believes President Obama is deliberately acting against the nation’s interests. It’s one thing for Romney to argue that the president has bad ideas that won’t work; it’s something else when Romney argues the president is pursuing an agenda that would hurt the country, on purpose, purely for partisan political reasons.

As Greg Sargent put it, “I’m not sure why this isn’t getting more attention…. Republicans react with bloody screams of outrage whenever Dems suggest that they might be trying to sabotage the recovery in order to harm Obama politically and make it easier for them to recapture the White House. Yet here Romney has now made an even broader charge, arguing that Obama is making policy decisions across the board that he ‘knows’ are ‘counter to the interests of the country,’ including major decisions involving war and national security.”

I’ve been covering the Republican “sabotage” question for over a year now, documenting ample evidence to suggest the question is at least worth considering. I’m not surprised Romney would try to turn it around — what better way to negate a provocative question like this than to raise it preemptively? — but that doesn’t make his on-air comments any less idiotic.

And why would the Republican candidate repeat such garbage? We know why: because as Romney and his boosters have already conceded, the truth is largely irrelevant, campaign messages necessarily constitute “propaganda” that need not be accurate, and there’s nothing especially wrong with sociopathic standards for honesty in the public discourse.

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.