Today, at a Republican Party fundraiser in Connecticut, that pattern continued when Steele lashed out at U.S. policy on Afghanistan, terming the military campaign there "a war of Obama's choosing." Steele went on to espouse his belief that America should not attempt direct military intervention in Afghanistan, something quite out of step with the majority view in his own party.
Writing in the Weekly Standard, neo-conservative commentator Bill Kristol has already called for Steele's head, pointing out that the war in Afghanistan has been prosecuted by the United States under Presidents Bush and Obama, and that Republicans have "consistently supported the effort."
Surge Desk has scrolled back in the albeit brief historical record and identified the biggest, most boldfaced gaffes of Steele's tenure thus far.
1. Saying Afghanistan is "a war of Obama's choosing."
President George W. Bush, with the overwhelming support of Congress, decided to invade Afghanistan a little less than a month after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. While Steele made some valid points about the current campaign, his larger characterization is factually untrue and puts him at odds with the party for which he holds a leadership position.
2. Saying abortion is an "individual choice."
In an interview with GQ magazine in 2009, Steele voiced an opinion seldom heard in Republican circles. In damage-control mode, Steele attempted to clarify his remarks in a subsequent statement. "I am pro-life," Steele wrote, "always have been, always will be."
3. Calling Rush Limbaugh's rhetoric "incendiary" and "ugly."
In a CNN interview back in March 2009, Steele called out conservative icon Rush Limbaugh, disputing the contention that Limbaugh was the de facto leader of the GOP. Condemnation from fellow Republicans (including from Limbaugh himself) was swift, and Steele was left attempting to walk back his remarks.
4. Promising an "off the hook" effort to make the Republican party more "hip-hop."
Speaking with the Washington Times shortly after being elected to his post as RNC chairman, Steele signaled that he would recast the GOP's image in more "urban-suburban hip-hop settings." While the desire to expand the party's demographics was laudable, Steele's choice of words -- especially given that not a single African-American Republican was (or is) serving in Congress -- gave comedians and commentators plenty to joke about.
5. Explaining that his gaffes happen for a reason.
In March 2009, after Steele faced criticism from his own party following his comments about Limbaugh, he explained to CNN's Don Lemon that his many verbal misfires were simply part of a strategy whose meaning had yet to be made clear.
"I am very introspective about things," Steele said. "I don't do -- I am a cause-and-effect kind of guy. So If I do something, there's a reason for it. Even, it may look like a mistake, a gaffe. There is a rationale, there's a logic behind it."