Another fight is brewing in the Republican Party, but this one doesn't involve any RINO's. This battle is between Bill Kristol and Ann Coulter, two icons of popular conservatism.
Bill Kristol is the founder and editor of The Weekly Standard. He was one of the co-founders of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). He currently serves as a board member for Keep America Safe, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, and the Ethics and Public Policy Center. In addition, Bill is a Director of the Foreign Policy Initiative. Bill Kristol is a serious conservative and not one to be messed with lightly.
Ann Coulter is far from an unknown. She doesn't have the think-tank connections that Bill has, but she enjoys a larger audience due to her popular take-no-prisoners approach to political discussions.
Bill started this war by attacking Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee. He did this in a Weekly Standard article titled A Letter to Michael Steele. In the letter, he asked Michael to resign his post as RNC chairman due to comments Steele made regarding the war in Afghanistan.
Steele's comments were:
"Keep in mind again, federal candidates, this was a war of Obama's choosing. This was not something that the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in. But it was the president who was trying to be cute by half by building a script demonizing Iraq, while saying the battle really should be in Afghanistan. Well, if he is such a student of history, has he not understood that you know that's the one thing you don't do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan?"
Kristol leaped on these comments due to their potential to undermine the American commitment in Afghanistan. Comments like Mr. Kristol's would ordinarily be politely ignored, but due to Bill's intellectual leadership status among conservative thinkers, the GOP issued an official clarification "The chairman clearly supports our troops but believes that success of the war effort in Afghanistan requires the ongoing support of the American people. The responsibility for building and maintaining that strategy falls squarely on the shoulders of the president. Like so many Americans, Chairman Steele wants to hear an explanation from President Obama on what his strategy is for winning the war in Afghanistan. The Petraeus hearings were an opportunity - a missed opportunity - to do that. Instead, all we hear from the president is criticism of his predecessor for doing exactly the same thing."
At this point, I thought the whole thing would blow over. Michael Steele's term expires in January and he is unlikely to serve another term as chairman. Steele's words were meaningful, but painfully misspoken. He was presenting a complex set of concepts that did not compress well into a short sound bite; this is a major faux pas in modern politics.
Ms. Coulter surprised almost everyone when she refused to let the matter drop. She penned an article for her blog titled Bill Kristol Must Resign. I went to Ann's blog, expecting to absolutely hate the article. Instead, what I found was a thoughtful criticism of our continued efforts in Afghanistan that made me seriously worry about this administration's ability to define a winning strategy for this conflict.
The reason we should all worry is highlighted in this quote, "In the entire seven-year course of the Afghanistan war under Bush, from October 2001 to January 2009, 625 American soldiers were killed. In 18 short months, Obama has nearly doubled that number to 1,124 Americans killed."
Ms. Coulter's entire argument is well worth reading. It's not something that can be compressed into a sound bite or a brief except, so I won't even try to do that. Part of being a conservative is willingness to research deeply into complex subjects and this is definitely a topic worthy of research.
So where do I stand? With Mr. Kristol or with Ms. Coulter? To be completely honest, I don't know. I'd like to give General Petraeus an opportunity to get our mission in Afghanistan back on track after the complete screwup that McChrystal has made of the situation. This may be impossible while the efforts are being undermined by the Obama administration, but I think we have to give it a chance. Ms. Coulter makes a persuasive argument, but I'm not sure I'm ready to accept it at this time.