Michael Steele strikes me as a nice guy who is out of his depth as head of the National Republican Committee. His most annoying habit is one that he shares, sort of, with President Obama–like Obama, Steele keeps confessing error and apologizing. But whereas, when Obama apologizes for America, he means those other Americans, Steele continually apologizes for his own Republican Party.
He did it again yesterday, on CNN. Here is a portion of his exchange with Wolf Blitzer on the subject of immigration:
BLITZER: But you know there are some Republican strategists, Karl Rove, among others, who are worried this is going to alienate Hispanic voters. The Republican Party needs these people.
STEELE: I think — I think Karl Rove is exactly right about that and that we need, as a party, to be mindful that our prior actions in this area, and certainly our rhetoric in this area, has not been the most welcoming and the most supportive of helping those who want to assimilate into the way of life of America, learning English, getting a good job, coming to the process in a legitimate way, has not helped that.
What on earth is Steele talking about? He happily confirms the Democrats’ unfair stereotype of Republicans as anti-immigrant know-nothings. But I can’t think of a single Republican politician–certainly not one in this century–who has been hostile to “those who want to assimilate into the way of life of America, learning English, getting a good job, coming to the process in a legitimate way.” The political controversy over immigration is entirely about illegal immigration, i.e., those who do not “come to the process in a legitimate way.”
Steele’s frequent and inappropriate apologies on behalf of the Republican Party raise several questions: 1) If his opinion of the party is so low, why is he a Republican? 2) If he wants to be Chairman of the Republican National Committee, shouldn’t he at least be well-informed about the party’s history? and 3) If Steele has such a tin ear that he can’t figure out how to stop infuriating members of his own party, how can anyone expect him to be an effective political leader?