RNC’s Steele rejects Republican line on Afghanistan

RNC’S STEELE REJECTS REPUBLICAN LINE ON AFGHANISTAN…. Republican Party officials have fought the Obama administration vehemently on every area of domestic and foreign policy with one exception — the war in Afghanistan. From congressional Republicans to Fox News to Kristol and the Cheneys, Obama is wrong about literally everything, except his Afghanistan policy.

So it was startling, to say the least, to see this new video that’s making the rounds this morning, in which Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele stakes out a position on the war that puts him entirely at odds with the entirety of his political party.

Steele spoke a fundraiser yesterday in Noank, Connecticut, and was heard criticizing the president’s war policy with inexplicable remarks.

The audio is a little tough to hear at times, but by my ear, Steele is heard saying, “Keep in mind, again, federal candidates, this was a war of Obama’s choosing. This was not something that the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in. It was one of those areas of the total board of foreign policy … that we would be in the background sort of shaping the changes that were necessary in Afghanistan as opposed to directly engaging troops.

“But it was the president who was trying to be cute by half by flipping a script demonizing Iraq, while saying the battle really should in Afghanistan. Well, if he’s 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. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan without committing U.S. troops.”

What in the world is Steele talking about?

At first blush, it’s tempting to think this puts Steele to the left of even many congressional Democrats, but after listening the clip a few times, it seems Steele is combining a liberal line on the war with fundamental ignorance about recent developments.

The war in Afghanistan is “of Obama’s choosing”? If memory serves, the war began in 2001, before Obama was even in the Senate, better yet the White House. The war “not something that the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in”? We chose to “actively prosecute” this war from Day One.

Michael Steele has made some bizarre and humiliating remarks since taking charge at the RNC, but I can’t make heads or tails of this one.

It does, however, offer yet another opportunity to ask Republican leaders what they think of their party chairman’s odd public comments. This one should generate some interesting responses.

Update: My friend Bill Simmon reminds me that Steele’s thinking seems to be in line with Vizzini in “The Princess Bride.”