THE STEELE CASE – AT 12:29 P.M. ET: I don't recall a similar uproar over the behavior of a national party chairman. Michael Steele is in deep trouble with his own Republic Party over statements he made disparaging the Afghanistan war, and giving a distorted history of how it got started. From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham spoke from the war zone Sunday to condemn GOP chairman Michael Steele's comment that Afghanistan was a ''war of Obama's choosing.''
Neither GOP lawmaker, however, was outraged enough to demand Steele's resignation, as some other Republican have done. Both said from Kabul it was up to Steele to decide whether he could continue to lead the party.
Steele's remarks, a political gift to Democrats in a congressional election year, were captured Thursday on camera, during a Connecticut fundraiser that was closed to the news media, and posted online. The comments would make it difficult for Republican candidates to have Steele campaign for them.
''I think those statements are wildly inaccurate and there's no excuse for them,'' McCain said, adding that Steele sent the Arizona senator an e-mail saying the remarks ''were misconstrued.''
''I believe we have to win here. I believe in freedom. But the fact is that I think that Mr. Steele is going to have to assess as to whether he can still lead the Republican Party as chairman of the Republican National Committee and make an appropriate decision,'' McCain told ABC's ''This Week.''
Graham, R-S.C., described himself as ''dismayed, angry and upset. It was an uninformed, unnecessary, unwise, untimely comment.''
He told CBS' ''Face the Nation'' that ''this is not President Obama's war. This is American's war. We need to stand behind the president.''
Asked whether Steele should quit, Graham said, ''It's up to him to see if he can lead the Republican Party. It couldn't have come at a worst time.''
COMMENT: As a practical matter, Steele should step down. However, there's a solid argument to be made for him to be dispatched after the election. If he's forced out now, he can turn against the party. As an African-American, he can provide a hefty load of embarrassment.
The idea now is for other campaign committees to do their job, and double that job if need be, marginalizing Steele whether he stays or not.
July 3, 2010