When he thinks nobody’s watching, Michael Steele says “the one thing you don’t do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan…everyone who has tried, over a thousand years of history, has failed” and calls Afghanistan a war of President Obama’s choosing. Yet just months ago, in his official capacity as RNC Chairman, Steele had a remarkably different take.
“Although this decision took far too long and it should not have, I am glad the president will finally provide General McChrystal with the troops he needs,” Steele said in December in response to President Obama’s decision to greenlight a surge in Afghanistan. “However, tonight’s speech must be the beginning, not the end, of the case President Obama makes to the American people as to why this is, as he said during the campaign, ‘a war we have to win.’ If the president remains committed to this crucial fight, Republicans - and the American people - will stand with him. But sending mixed signals by outlining the exit before these troops even get on the ground undermines their ability to succeed.”
Emphasis mine. Steele is in for a rocky ride. Many Republicans are furious at Steele, who was captured on video suggesting that Afghanistan is an unwinnable war. Indeed, this comment was passed my way by a top GOP operative. More on that shortly
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.