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Ron Paul Praises Embattled RNC Chief Michael Steele For 'Leadership' On Afghanistan

First Posted: 07/04/10 11:53 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 06:00 PM ET

Ron Paul Michael Steele

The Sunday shows on this July Fourth weekend were littered with conservative figures wringing their hands over the latest, confounding comments from RNC Chairman Michael Steele, who recently called Afghanistan an un-winnable war of Obama's choosing.

But with neoconservatives Bill Kristol and Dan Senor as well as Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) all, to one extent or another, taking Steele to the mat, at least one member of the GOP was praising his boldness and clarity.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) the beloved libertarian, former presidential candidate and longtime skeptic of foreign military entanglements, put out a statement on Sunday congratulating Steele for having the courage to, as he put it, tell the truth on the Afghan war:

I would like to congratulate Michael Steele for his leadership on one of the most important issues of today. He is absolutely right: Afghanistan is now Obama's war. During the 2008 campaign, Obama was out in front in insisting that more troops be sent to Afghanistan. Obama called for expanding the war even as he pretended to be a peace candidate.

Michael Steele should not resign. Smart policies make smart politics. He is guiding the party in the right direction and we are on the verge of victory this fall. Chairman Steele should not back off. He is giving the country, especially young people, hope as he speaks truth about this war.

I have to ask myself, what is the agenda of the harsh critics demanding this resignation? Why do they support Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama's war?

The American people are sick and tired spending hundreds of billions of dollars a year, draining our economy and straining our military. Michael Steele has it right and Republicans should stick by him.

Paul's statement, of course, doesn't take into consideration that Steele and the RNC have put out at least two separate statements clarifying his remark -- essentially walking it back. If he's congratulating Steele for speaking truth to power, he's roughly two days late.

But the broader implication of Paul's statement is that it illustrates a skepticism of the Afghanistan war that isn't necessarily confined within a tidy ideological spectrum. The anti-war sentiment among Democrats led roughly two-thirds of the House caucus to vote in favor of a timeline for a military withdrawal from that war last week. Paul, certainly, isn't the most mainstream member of the Republican Party. But his cynicism about the war mission is shared by some influential conservative figures, primarily pundits, such as George Will and Joe Scarborough.

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