STEELE’S INTERPRETER TRIES TO CLARIFY…. We talked earlier about RNC Chairman Michael Steele, and his bizarre criticism of the U.S. policy in Afghanistan, which puts him at odds with his own party. It’s only fair, then, that I note that RNC spokesperson Doug Heye has issued a statement trying to explain what Steele was trying to say.

The Chairman clearly supports our troops but believes that success of the war effort in Afghanistan requires the ongoing support of the American people.

The responsibility for building and maintaining that strategy falls squarely on the shoulders of the President. Like so many Americans, Chairman Steele wants to hear an explanation from President Obama on what his strategy is for winning the war in Afghanistan. The Petraeus hearings were an opportunity — a missed opportunity — to do that. Instead, all we hear from the President is criticism of his predecessor for doing exactly the same thing.

At the same time, Congress must stop playing politics with the war and provide the funding our troops need to win and come home.

Listening to Steele, and then reading Heye, it’s hard not to notice that one has absolutely nothing to do with the other. (And given Republicans voting against funding the troops, Heye’s conclusion seems rather ironic.)

Perhaps we’re going about this the wrong way. Here are some questions for Heye to consider:

* Steele said the war in Afghanistan is “of Obama’s choosing.” In light of reality, and the fact that the war began nearly nine years ago, what does that mean?

* Steele said the war in Afghanistan “was not something that the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.” Given the events since 2001, what does that mean?

* Steele said he considers it a mistake to “engage in a land war in Afghanistan.” Does that mean he supports withdrawal? When did he reach this conclusion? Why has Steele previously suggested the exact opposite? Does he believe all of the members of his party who believe the opposite are misguided?

* Steele said there are “ways to engage in Afghanistan without committing U.S. troops.” Can the RNC name some of the alternatives Republicans would support?

For what it’s worth, the beleaguered, humiliated RNC chairman seems to have created yet another controversy for himself with his comments. Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, an extremely influential voice in Republican Party politics, published an item online less than an hour ago, calling on Steele to resign. Kristol said the party leader’s remarks are “more than an embarrassment”; they’re “an affront, both to the honor of the Republican party and to the commitment of the soldiers fighting to accomplish the mission they’ve been asked to take on by our elected leaders.”

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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.