What’s the lamest thing about this? The almost frantic desperation to pander to Latinos with wildly over-the-top condemnation of Romney or the fact that, if he really believes what he’s saying, he kept his mouth shut and stuck with Mitt and the RNC for the duration of the campaign? Pro tip to Reince: If you think your nominee is horrifically racist, simple decency requires you to withdraw your endorsement and resign in protest.

At this rate, the showcase event at the 2016 convention will be a ceremonial burning of Romney in effigy in primetime.

Mitt Romney repeatedly used the term during the Republican primary campaign to talk about how his immigration enforcement policies would lead to unauthorized immigrants leaving the U.S. of their own accord, rather than needing to be deported.

“Using the word ‘self-deportation’ — it’s a horrific comment to make,” Priebus said, in a forceful rebuke. “I don’t think it has anything to do with our party. When someone makes those comments, obviously, it’s racist.”…

Priebus bristled when asked about [Steve] King’s comments on Thursday — specifically, one in which he said illegal immigrants have “calves the size of cantaloupes” so they can haul “75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

“Well, of course, it’s hurtful,” Priebus said of those comments. “Of course, it hurts. … Just, not good.”

Steve King talking about illegals being drug mules is merely “hurtful” whereas Romney suggesting that illegals who can’t find work would have to return home is “racist” and “horrific.” Anyone think Priebus would choose those respective adjectives if Romney wasn’t old news and King wasn’t a potentially vulnerable incumbent? In fact, this isn’t even effective as pandering. How many Latino voters are going to be so impressed by the RNC chair’s now-costless denunciation of a former nominee that they’d consider voting for the party? And how many border hawks who vote for the GOP in part because they’re the only bulwark (in theory) against amnesty will be alienated by what he said here? There are almost certainly more people in column two than in column one.

Lefty Benjy Sarlin notes that self-deportation is actually part of the official platform of Reince Priebus’s RNC. Right — and it’s also necessarily part of the Gang of Eight’s plan for immigration reform. That’s the punchline here. For all the opportunistic liberal demagoguery of what Romney said, self-deportation is the whole point behind measures like E-Verify, which the Gang’s bill purports to strengthen. An illegal crosses the border, starts looking for work, finds that he keeps getting pinged by E-V, and decides to head home. Self-deportation, just like Romney — and apparently Chuck Schumer, John McCain, and Marco Rubio — imagined. But we don’t need to overthink this. Priebus’s goal wasn’t to critique the idea of self-deportation on the merits, it was to ostentatiously “rebrand” by smearing the last nominee in the same lazy way that Democrats do. Good work, Reince. Enjoy the e-mails next week from your small-money donors. Exit question: Second look at Michael Steele?

Update: Via Morgen Richmond, watch the end of this clip from 2009. Is self-deportation, a.k.a. attrition through enforcement, also horrific when Marco Rubio’s pushing it?

Update: According to Peter Hamby of CNN, Priebus is getting a raw deal from Business Insider — sort of.

That’s a relief. Not racist, just horrific. Apologies. Belated second exit question: When will the RNC rescind the horrific self-deportation policy in its platform?

Update: Also, which other parts of the Republican platform have become “horrific” between last September and now? Inquiring minds want to know.

Update: According to William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection, the RNC press office confirmed the “racist” quote when he contacted them about it this morning. Evidently someone there misheard what Priebus said the same way Business Insider did. Oh well — no one’s disputing “horrific.”