Steele trapped behind bad timing, big mouth

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Once again RNC Chairman Michael Steele has taken his rhetoric a bit too far. Last Thursday while speaking at a Republican fundraiser Steele said he found the dismissal of Gen. Stanley McChrystal “comical.” Steele went on to say “Keep in mind … this was a war of Obama’s choosing, ….This was not something that the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in … the one thing you don’t do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan …Everyone who has tried over a thousand years of history has failed, …”

As a result of these comments Chairman Steele has come under heavy fire from within the Republican Party. Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol among others has called for Steele’s resignation. “I ask you to consider, over this July 4 weekend, doing an act of service for the country you love: Resign as chairman of the Republican Party.” Sometimes, as with Steele, the problem is the messenger and the message.

During his political career Steele has demonstrated a propensity to make provocative and inaccurate statements that he later has to retract. While running for the U.S. Senate in 2006 as a Republican, Steele agreed to an interview but only under condition that his statements be attributed generally as a GOP Senate candidate not to him personally. In this interview Steele criticized the Bush administrations handling of the Iraq war, he connected the war in Iraq to the increase in gas prices and violence in Lebanon; and criticized Bush’s handling of Katrina calling it a “monumental failure.” When ABC News eventually attributed the comments to him and the Baltimore Sun later reported it, Steele tried to distance himself from his own remarks claiming they were nothing more then a joke and insisting that Bush was his “homeboy.”

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Shortly after becoming chairman of the RNC, Steele decided to take on Rush Limbaugh. After saying that Limbaugh was ”…an entertainer…his whole thing is entertainment. He has this incendiary — yes, it’s ugly”; Steele folded like cheap lawn furniture. Instead of standing by his statement he apologized to Limbaugh telling him he meant no offense. “My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh … I was maybe a little bit inarticulate…. There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.”

These most recent blunders coupled with his past indiscretions are clear indications that Steele is a man who has lost the support of his conservative base. As RedState founder and conservative blogger Erick Erickson wrote “Michael Steele must resign…he has lost all moral authority to lead the GOP.”

It is interesting to note, there is some merit to a few of Chairman Steele’s most recent observations. The dismissal of Gen. McChrystal is a very serious matter. There is nothing “comical” about it but it does warrant further analysis. Without a clear and substantive change in policy a change in leadership is simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic or putting lipstick on a pig. Replacing McChrystal with Petraeus is a new face on a failed strategy.

Steele is correct, ”…the one thing you don’t do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan …Everyone who has tried over a thousand years of history has failed…” The war in Afghanistan is not winnable in a traditional American military context. Conventional U.S. forces and strategy will not be able to establish a central controlling government in such a diverse ethnic, cultural, and religious region of the world. Afghanistan has never been defeated militarily. It is where empires go to die. The Greeks, Indians, Persians, Mongolians, British, and Russians have tried to hold Afghanistan but never succeeded. You can replace war elephants with fighter planes and drones but the result will be the same.

For as accurate as some of his observations are they ring hollow when stated by the likes of Michael Steele and put in the context of “this is a war of Obama’s choosing…” The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in October of 2001. Barack Obama was not sworn in as the 44th President of the U.S. until late January 2009. In fact, Obama was not sworn into the U.S. Senate until 2005. Steele continues to bring confusion not clarity to this very important debate.

It is becoming more difficult to differentiate between the war that Bush initiated and the war that Obama continues to wage but President George W. Bush got America into this war with not clear way to get out. As President Obama sends additional troops into the region and earmarks $33B in the Appropriation Act of 2010; this is no more than throwing good money after bad. It’s a bankrupt policy that’s bankrupting America.

No matter which side of the aisle you are on, this war and the future of this country are too important to be debated by political opportunists and hacks. You can’t be the chairman of a major political party in this country and be against the ground war on Thursday and issue a statement the following day supporting, ”…the decision to increase our troop force…” That hypocrisy is unacceptable. RNC Chairman Michael should resign. Sometimes it’s the messenger and the message.