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Steeled for Combat

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It appears as though it's time to welcome Republican party chairman Michael Steele to the ranks of the anti-war protesters, on the eve of July 4 no less. Steele has repeatedly caused heartburn among Republicans for his own stubbornly independent streak. But this time the chairman may have jumped the shark by labeling Afghanistan President Obama's war of "choice."

Those are fighting words, at least among Republicans. Steele has challenged the most sacrosanct tenet in the GOP, the belief that America is fighting a righteous war against Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan and that the Democrats are always ready to cut and run. To be sure, some Republicans, such as congressman Ron Paul and his son Rand, believe that imperial adventures abroad will inevitably bring down the American empire. But they amount to a fringe. The bulk of the party belongs with Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin.

The funny part is that Steele himself might be right. It was kind of him to hold a tutorial for Obama and July 4 is an appropriate date to think about the difficulties involved in trying to subdue a foreign population, a good chunk of which views Americans as a new version of the Redcoats. What's more, the history of land wars in Afghanistan for foreign invaders, as Steele points out, has not been a happy one, as the British well know. It's so obvious that even Steele managed to pick up on that little nugget somewhere between his lucrative personal speaking engagements.

But Republicans have good reason to be nervous. Next thing you know Steele will be proclaiming that the deficit isn't something to worry about when the economy is faltering and that Obama should be spending more to stimulate it.

Here's hoping that Steele survives his latest faux pas -- if only to see what his next one will be.