WHY WOULD STEELE WANT FACE TIME WITH FOREIGN DIPLOMATS?…. Even when he’s screwing up, RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s motivations are usually pretty clear. In a story like this one, though, I have no idea what he’s thinking.

The Republican National Committee is trying to set up meetings between Chairman Michael Steele and foreign ambassadors to the United States, according to an email obtained by POLITICO — an effort that has puzzled diplomats as well as fellow Republicans.

An RNC intern sent a message late last month to at least one ambassador on behalf of Neil Alpert, a senior finance aide, with little explanation.

“As you know, the November election is just 103 days away and the Chairman would like to extend to you an invitation to sit down either at the RNC or at your embassy to discuss the upcoming 2010 midterm elections,” wrote Christopher Kelleher, a finance department intern. “With literally hundreds of congressional seats up for grabs in just under four months, Chairman Steel [sic] would love to have the opportunity to discuss the Party’s outlook with you.”

It’s not at all common for party chiefs to set up private discussions with foreign diplomats to discuss U.S. elections, and the RNC declined to explain the purpose of the proposed meetings.

Referring to foreign ambassadors, former RNC Chairman Jim Nicholson told Politico, “They can’t give any money and they can’t vote. I don’t know why you’d take time to do it.”

Since it’s illegal for foreign nationals to contribute to American candidates or political parties, and it’s largely unheard of for international diplomats to offer candidate endorsements, the whole thing is a bit of mystery.

A longtime party operative added. “Michael Steele is focused on one outcome — that’s his own.”

That’s almost certainly true, but it still doesn’t fully explain the RNC chairman’s motivations. Is he trying to line up foreign work after he loses his job next year? Does he hope to bad-mouth President Obama to foreign diplomats to sabotage U.S. foreign policy?

Even for Steele, this is just bizarre.

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.