[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]
I'm almost as interested in the reaction of the Republican observers in the phone video that showed Michael Steele making those bizarre comments about the war in Afghanistan:
Keep in mind again, federal candidates, this was a war of Obama's choosing. This is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.It's not clear if anyone in the audience is really aware that the Republican National Chairman's career is going up in flames before their very eyes. Indeed, those who are not too busy chatting and ignoring Steele seem to enthusiastically agree with him. At least the baldheaded guy seems aware that what Steele is saying is just weird.
Well, if [Obama is] such a student of history, has he not understood that you know that's the one thing you don't do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? All right, because everyone who has tried, over a thousand years of history, has failed. And there are reasons for that.
I agree with Greg Sargent's take:
Let me have a stab at guessing what happened here. I say Steele initially meant to say that the Afghan war wasn't a war of our choosing because we were attacked on September 11th, forcing us to invade. But that came out all wrong because he garbled it by mixing it with an attack on Obama.Worst of all, for Steele, is that he trod all over the GOP's favorite narrative, which is that Obama hasn't done enough in Afghanistan (and, subsidiarially, that Democrats have always been weak on the war in Afghanistan, blah blah blah). So immediately the loudest voices selling that pitch were quick to denounce him. Indeed, Bloody Bill Kristol called for his resignation.
Next, Steele tried to attack Obama by pointing out that during the campaign he insulated himself against charges that he's a dove by calling for a ramp up in Afghanistan. Fair enough. But then he compounded the mess by slipping into a kind of auto-pilot mode where he just started criticizing the Afghan war as a disaster and unwinnable because it's now Obama's war. Result: Steele said that Obama chose this war, that we shouldn't be there, and we now can't win.
On Fox News, you could watch the negative reviews roll in:
Karl Rove: "Well, that was a boneheaded comment by the chairman of the Republican National Committee."Well, his tenure has been nothing if not entertaining. Indeed, Michael Steele was the Democrats' best hope in 2010. We'll be sorry to see him go.
Stephen Hayes: "It is an absurd comment, it is something I think certainly should cause him to resign."
Charles Krauthammer: "I think he has to go. This is a capital offense."