I complained here about RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s paid speeches. My concern was that they provide him with an incentive to be entertaining, candid, and/or controversial, but if he does this, he increases the likelihood of making statements that may not be in the best interest of his party.
Now comes word that Steele has released a book and is promoting it on tour. Steele promotes the book as a blueprint for the Republican Party’s new direction. However, some Republicans are complaining that Steele put this “blueprint” for the party together without seeking input from key party members.
Steele’s book means more appearances and thus more opportunities to be candid and controversial to the detriment of the Republican Party. In a recent appearance, he opined that the GOP will not be able to regain its congressional majorities this year. That’s a reasonalbe prediction, but the party chairman should not be downplaying his party’s prospects.
It’s hard to resist the feeling that Steele has always wanted to be a “talking head,” and, having obtained a far more important station in life, is using it to fulfill his prior, less ambitious dream.
Steele has responded to criticism of his book and his efforts to promote it with egotistical bombast and perhaps a bit of paraoia. He stated:
I’m the guy that they’re afraid of because, guess what? I’m a Tea Partier, I’m a town haller. I’m a grass-rooter.
Steele may proclaim himself a tea-partier now that this movement has taken off. But not long ago, when the political winds were blowing in a different direction and Presdient Obama was popular, Steele was attacking Rush Limbaugh — a major source of inspiration to the “tea partiers, town hallers and grass rooters” — for being “incendiary” and “ugly.” With tea party movement a major force, Steele not only wants to jump aboard, but he resorts to “incendiary” rhetoric against those who aren’t aligned with that movement, accusing them of being afraid of him.
Steele’s job as RNC head — as opposed to self-promoter — is to work with all significant portions of the Republican Party. But he seems incapable of doing so. First, he attacked an iconic figure of the grass roots; now he attacks those he deems insufficiently connected to those roots. In both instances, he got it wrong.
Ultimately, Steele is left to declare:
Get with the program. I’m the chairman. Deal with it.
But it’s difficult to get with the program when the program consists of whatever posture Steele thinks best serves his interests at a given time. As for dealing with his chairmanship, ousting him is probably out of the question for the time being and there is little hope that he will change his ways. The two ways I see of dealing with Steele’s chairmanship are laughing and crying.