RNC TURNS AGAINST AMA…. Eric Zimmermann reports that the Republican National Committee has decided it no longer likes the American Medical Association.

Michael Steele took a shot at the American Medical Association (AMA) today, saying the organization doesn’t have “credibility” on healthcare reform.

“The AMA is — does not have the credibility on this health care issue, as they would like to project,” Steele said on Fox and Friends this morning.

The relative strength and/or influence of the AMA is certainly subject to debate. For that matter, it’s understandable that the RNC chairman would try to undermine the credibility of the physicians’ group the same day 150 medical doctors applaud health care reform in the Rose Garden.

That said, Steele’s criticism seemed a little odd. For one thing, it occurred the same morning the Republican National Committee hosted a conference call to boast about support from former AMA President Donald Palmisano. Steele was stepping on his own message — if the AMA doesn’t have credibility, why should anyone be impressed with the RNC’s call with Palmisano?

For that matter, Steele may not realize this, but the American Medical Association has historically been a close Republican Party ally on health care reform. It has a lengthy record of trashing Democratic reform proposals — in 1945, the AMA helped portray Truman’s proposal for national health insurance as a creep toward communism — and Sam Stein recently noted, “The group’s reputation on this matter is so notorious that historians pinpoint it with creating the ominous sounding phrase ‘socialized medicine’ in the early decades of the 1900s.”

The Republican National Committee just loved the AMA — right up until the group decided the Democratic reform proposals were a good deal.

Steele isn’t the only one struggling with this. Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, when she thought the AMA was opposed to reform efforts, characterized the AMA as “very influential,” and claimed that it “represents most of the doctors in this country.” After the AMA endorsed reform, Kelly decided she wasn’t all that impressed with the physicians’ group after all.

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.