A Problem We Didn’t Need

Barack Obama isn’t the only one who’s off to a rough start in his new job. RNC Chairman Michael Steele is catching well-deserved flak for his inept performance on television last weekend. Byron York documents the deep unhappiness many Republicans are expressing with Steele’s performance so far:

Steele made headlines for his appearance on CNN last weekend in which he characterized Limbaugh’s program as “incendiary” and “ugly.” Limbaugh hit back hard, and Steele later apologized, saying his words did not reflect his true feelings. But some Republicans who were not particularly upset by Steele’s references to Limbaugh were appalled when Steele, during the same program, sat quietly while CNN host D.L. Hughley said that last year’s Republican National Convention “literally looked like Nazi Germany. It literally did.” GOP insiders who saw the performance unanimously agreed that Steele was seriously, perhaps unforgivably, remiss in not challenging a television host who compared Republicans to Nazis.

Like many others, I thought Steele could be a good RNC chief precisely because he would be a good face of the party on television. Whether he is a good organizer remains to be seen. He cleaned house at the RNC with a wholesale firing of staff; so far, most of those positions have not been filled. York says that, according to Steele’s defenders, he has been developing plans for the RNC going forward, some of which sound like good ideas, like moving staff out of Washington into the rest of the country.

It’s probably too early to give up on Steele, but I hope he understands that if he doesn’t start sticking up for his fellow Republicans when he has the opportunity, his tenure at the RNC will be brief.


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