This is pretty amazing. William Kristol has sent Michael Steele an open letter asking him to take the July 4 weekend as a cue to do the patriotic thing and resign. Apparently (I didn’t know about this latest development until a few minutes ago) Steele said that Afghanistan was a war “chosen” by Barack Obama, and he suggested it was time to get out. The second part, of course, is not necessarily a crazy sentiment, but it’s not one Republicans want their titular leader espousing. And the first part makes you wonder if Steele has gone beyond just blurting out whatever comes to mind and maybe has sustained some unknown physical injury that left him brain-damaged. I don’t know how else one explains the head of the RNC’s seeming unawareness that the war in Afghanistan started under George W. Bush, not Barack Obama.
Here is the letter Kristol sent, in full. It’s not very long:
You are, I know, a patriot. So I ask you to consider, over this July 4 weekend, doing an act of service for the country you love: Resign as chairman of the Republican party.
Your tenure has of course been marked by gaffes and embarrassments, but I for one have never paid much attention to them, and have never thought they would matter much to the success of the causes and principles we share. But now you have said, about the war in Afghanistan, speaking as RNC chairman at an RNC event, “Keep in mind again, federal candidates, this was a war of Obama’s choosing. This was not something that the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.” And, “if [Obama] is 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?”
Needless to say, the war in Afghanistan was not “a war of Obama’s choosing.” It has been prosecuted by the United States under Presidents Bush and Obama. Republicans have consistently supported the effort. Indeed, as the DNC Communications Director (of all people) has said, your statement “puts [you] at odds with about 100 percent of the Republican Party.”
And not on a trivial matter. At a time when Gen. Petraeus has just taken over command, when Republicans in Congress are pushing for a clean war funding resolution, when Republicans around the country are doing their best to rally their fellow citizens behind the mission, your comment is more than an embarrassment. It’s 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.
There are, of course, those who think we should pull out of Afghanistan, and they’re certainly entitled to make their case. But one of them shouldn’t be the chairman of the Republican party.