Republicans are poised to do well in November 2010 and, quite possibly, beyond. But doubts persist about the party’s fitness to become relevant to the governance of this country again.
These doubts are well-founded. Throughout the last decade, Republicans spent irresponsibility. And at the congressional level, they too often behaved corruptly.
This, of course, is the main reason why a strong power base for fiscal prudence and non-imperial governance has developed outside the confines of the Republican party. Without the trust of this base, the Republican party’s hopes for success are slim, indeed.
That’s why it’s disquieting to read about the spending spree of RNC head Michael Steele. According to this report, Steele is spending twice as much as his recent predecessors on private planes, and paying more for limousines, catering and flowers. This development is said be infuriating the party’s major donors. Imagine how it will play among members of the Tea Party movement, many of whom already look askance at the Republican party.
What will they make, for example, of reports that
Steele hired renowned chef Wolfgang Puck’s local crew to cater the RNC’s Christmas party inside the trendy Newseum, instead of RNC headquarters where it formerly had been, and then moved the annual winter meeting from Washington to Hawaii;
the committee’s payments for charter flights doubled; the number of sedan contractors tripled, and meal expenses jumped from $306,000 to $599,000;
since Steele took over the chairmanship last winter, he has raised raised $10 million less than the party collected in 2005, spent $10 million more, and seen a $23 million surplus shrink to $8.4 million?
I know what I make of these indicia of fiscal irresponsibility and imperial behavior: they are distressing.