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I have a new Salon column up surveying the rubble left by his recent remarks on the war in Afghanistan. The takeaway:
But if Michael Steele’s reign of error comes to a characteristically ignominious end, that will be far from the greatest pity in this whole fiasco. The far sadder story is the narrowing this represents in mainstream debate over Afghanistan, as the leadership of both major parties concludes that the only acceptable position to take is a stalwartly pro-war one. It’s one thing to watch John McCain reflexively support American military involvement with every country whose name he can correctly pronounce; it’s quite another to see the DNC simultaneously embrace over-heated anti-dissent rhetoric that sounds like it was pilfered verbatim from a Karl Rove-authored internal White House memo circa 2003.
I am not taking a position on the merits of Steele’s claims; assessing the goals and current status of our efforts in Afghanistan is, as Todd Gitlin points out, a mind-bogglingly complex endeavor, and I don’t have the expertise for it. But opposition to the war is not a fringe position, and at least one highly respected foreign policy expert — Steve Clemons — has stepped up to defend Steele’s remarks. It appears that in the case of every liberal’s favorite RNC chair, even a stopped clock occasionally says something mildly plausible.