Usually, the only people who care who the chairman of the Republican National Committee are the members of the committee themselves and a handful of Washington insiders and political junkies who have absolutely no life.
In an attempt to change their luck and complexion, Michael Steele, a Black conservative and the former Lt. Governor of Maryland, beat back arch-right winger J. Kenneth Blackwell and a handful of total nobodies for the chance to pull the GOP out of the losing streak they’ve been stuck in since 2006.
What Steele brings to the table is a legacy of mediocrity. He should fit right in with the current Republican brain trust.
…Steele’s a questionable choice. He hasn’t displayed a ton of political acumen — he’s won elected office only once, and he didn’t head that ticket. He lost the aforementioned Senate race, and, before that, couldn’t even win a GOP primary for state comptroller; he placed third, in fact. His tenure as head of the Maryland party wasn’t brilliant, either, and he repeatedly had trouble recruiting candidates. (In his defense, it’s not easy to be a Republican in the state.) Along the way, he’s made some serious missteps: He got in trouble in 2006 for making some unguarded remarks disparaging then-President Bush to a group of reporters. His name was supposed to be kept off the comments, but when it quickly became obvious who was responsible, Steele tried to lie his way out of the gaffe. Also in 2006, he attracted unwanted attention when, speaking before a Jewish group, he compared stem cell research to medical tests that the Nazis conducted on prisoners during the Holocaust. The GOP better hope this victory is a sign that he’s learned some hard lessons –he already has a tough fight ahead of him in trying to win over the party’s conservative wing, which doesn’t fully trust him because of his membership in the more moderate Republican Leadership Council.
And while Steele’s personal resume looks impressive from afar, it’s not nearly as pretty up close. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University and then got a law degree from Georgetown University, true. That said, though, he initially flunked out of Hopkins, and while he did pass the bar in Pennsylvania, he failed it in Maryland. His record as a businessman wasn’t stellar, either. A consulting firm he founded never turned a profit, and was a serious drain on his finances. Shortly after he began his run for lieutenant governor, Steele ran into trouble because of a $25,000 loan his sister had given to his campaign for comptroller that he’d never paid back. Then, there were revelations of an additional $35,000 in personal debt, as well as more than $100,000 he’d taken out of two retirement accounts in order to support his family, leaving a balance of less than $600 at the time the news broke. He suffered further embarrassment over his finances when it was revealed that the Republican Party was paying him a consulting fee of $5,000 a month during his campaign for lieutenant governor. link
Congratulations Lt. Governor Steele. Mostly for sparing me the sorry sight of J. Kenneth Blackwell as the HNIC of the RNC. Now Kenny B. can go back to work that better suits his temperament. Something like mucking out the men’s room at McDonald’s after some homeless derelict with explosive diarrhea has used it.
What does Steele need to do to revive the GOP? Maybe find some candidates who have something more to offer than saying “I’m more like Ronald Reagan than you are. ”
Steele will have the difficult task of broadening the party’s base . Republicans do fine attracting White males. They have that part down cold. Don’t need to change a thing.
It’s appealing to everybody else where they flat out suck.
The problem is the nation is becoming more racially diverse, not less, and going beyond the Rush Limbaugh crowd is a job that isn’t going to happen simply by trying to jam up President Obama and whine, “More tax cuts, please.”
I wish Steele luck. If he thinks being the new HNIC of the Republicans means some state chairman in Alabama is suddenly going to fall in love with the concept of minority outreach, he’s high. Too many of the old bulls in the GOP believe as their boy Rush Limbaugh that “Blacks are only 12 percent of the population, so who the hell cares?” never noticing that 12 percent of the population coupled with a heaping helping of Latinos, Asians, Whites and others were all it too to put one member of that 12 percent into the Oval Office.
Republicans need a tranformative figure. They need their own version of Barack Obama and if they think Sarah Palin is their man, she’s going to have to polish up her act a lot by 2012 to make any noise beyond the base—and start winning elections again on a national level.
What will Steele have to do to reverse the fortunes of the Republican Party?
Stop being the rent boys of the religious Right, self-important right-wing talking heads and corporate America and think up some strategies that don’t revolve around starting wars, racial intolerance, making the rich richer, or hoping for another terror attack.
Better yet, Steele can just ask Rush Limbaugh. The Republicans are gonna do whatever he tells them to anyway.