the emperor's bloody clothes
The editors of Slate reference this TPM post discussing GOP chairman Michael Steele's acknowledgement that the Afghan war is unwinnable, reducing it to political process. Some of the Slate commenters, filled with glee at a prominent republican apparently putting his foot in his mouth, are repellent in their myopic, doltish stupidity.
...the impulse to assign blame to the opposing party is apparently a bipartisan one. At a Republican fundraiser in Connecticut on Thursday, RNC Michael Steele tried to pin the war in Afghanistan—which started in 2001—on the current occupant of the Oval Office.
The gaffe-tastic chairman got on the subject when a audience member asked him a question about Gen. Stanley McChrystal's resignation. "The McChrystal incident, to me, was very comical. And I think it's a reflection of the frustration that a lot of our military leaders have with this Administration and their prosecution of the war in Afghanistan," said Steele. "Keep in mind again, federal candidates, this was a war of Obama's choosing. This is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in." Steele went on to say that the United States had started an unwinnable war in Afghanistan—and that it's Obama's fault. "It was the president who was trying to be cute by half flipping a script demonizing Iraq, while saying the battle really should be in Afghanistan," Steele said. "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."
When TPM tried to ask some questions of an RNC spokesman (chief among them: "Didn't the war begin in 2001 under George W. Bush, in response to the 9/11 attacks?"), the response was a statement that begins, "The Chairman clearly supports our troops." Steele has weathered storms of his own making before, but this may be harder to survive than a little bondage-themed party. The Atlantic is calling this "the biggest Michael Steele gaffe of all," Repblicans operatives are calling it "the height of stupidity," and William Kristol is calling for his resignation.
While I doubt that I share many of Michael Steele's views on things like business regulation or taxation, I was pleasantly surprised when I heard about his comments from Thursday declaring the Afghan war unwinnable. Although I don't care about the GOP's fortunes any more than I care about the well-being of the democratic party, it was pretty clear that he was trying to nudge the republicans towards relevancy, and maybe even sanity. I guess the bipartisan flurry of criticism he has since faced was inevitable. His subsequent backing away from his comments wasn't, although it really was too bad.
Steele had an opportunity, especially poignant on the eve of the 4th of July holiday, to make the case against empire and all the unnecessary butchery of our own and others, and to flesh out the distinction between supporting the well-being of the troops and supporting an imperial war. It seems no good deed, or hesitant attempt at such, goes unpunished.