Top Senate Republicans on Sunday stopped short of asking Michael Steele to resign for his suggestion last week that the war in Afghanistan could not be won, seeming to signal that the ever-embattled Republican National Committee chairman will survive his latest self-inflicted wound.
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut independent who caucuses with Republicans on most foreign policy issues, all harshly criticized Steele during appearances on Sunday’s talk shows – but none of them joined the chorus of Republican foreign policy hawks demanding that Steele step down.
Steele has survived previous flaps ranging from ill-advised criticism of Rush Limbaugh all the way to approving a $2,000 expense at a bondage-themed strip club. At a fundraiser Thursday, he said that “everyone who has tried over a thousand years of history has failed [to win in Afghanistan], and there are reasons for that,” and called the conflict, approaching its ninth year, “a war of Obama’s choosing.”
I can’t say that Steele is the optimal chairman of the party, but he’s right on this one, and the “hawks” need to face reality. Afghanistan has been a graveyard of military reputations for a lone time, and our overrestrictive rules of engagement (which have been developed, in part, by our military brass) only make matters worse.
Besides, it’s patently absurd to expect a President with the intellectual heritage that Barack Obama has to properly conduct a war of any kind. If we want a President to properly lead our military, we need a different one altogether. The GOP needs to work towards that end and quit criticising its chairman for stating the obvious. But stating the obvious is the quickest way to get into trouble in American politics.