Put Me in the "No, But Persuadable" Camp on Michael Steele

Lt. Gov. Steele knows I like him. And he knows I’d support him if he were RNC Chairman. But at this present moment I am in the no camp. I can be persuaded, but I stand at “no thanks” right now.

And frankly, I’m a bit aggravated by a lot of folks on our side who have gone all fan boy on Michael Steele. To use Joe Biden’s lingo, “a mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy” is no more a qualification for RNC Chair than for President of the United States. And that, frankly, is why a large number of people are supporting Michael Steele.

I want to support Michael Steele because of what he has done, not because of who he is or what he represents. I would encourage people who are supporting Lt. Gov. Steele to start talking about him as a serious leader, not him as a face to put up against Barack Obama. Why? Because the RNC Chairman’s role is much more of a behind the scenes role than an “in front of the camera” roll.

And thus far, based on what he has done, I have concerns. Again, I am persuadable, but I’d like to get these addressed:

1. Listening to the call conducted today with bloggers, I get the strong sense Lt. Gov. Steele really has no earthly idea what the RNC Chairman does, but seems to think it is about being the face/voice of the GOP while out of the White House. As an elected Republican, let me assure all of you there is a great deal more to the job of Chairman of the party under whose name I qualify to run for office. If Lt. Gov. Steele is only the face/voice of the party, who will be responsible for running it? I fear that it will be the same DC consultants that are running his campaign and demand party contracts for their friends. One of the great problems at the RNC and the other party committees has been the self-dealing consultants who put their contracts above recruiting and electing conservatives.

  1. There is, as there always has been, a movement afoot to marginalize pro-life voters who are, in fact, a very significant part of the GOP base. Lt. Gov. Steele, Christie Todd Whitman, and John Danforth started the Republican Leadership Council. The group’s purpose was to move the GOP leftward in the same way the Democratic Leadership Council’s purpose was to move the Democrats to the right.

The Republican Leadership Council lists among its “Strategic Partners”:

  • GreenGOP.org
  • Log Cabin Republicans
  • Main Street Coalition (Fire at will, AceinTX)
  • Planned Parenthood Republicans for Choice
  • Republicans for Choice
  • Republicans for Environmental Protection
  • Republican Majority for Choice
  • The Whitman Series
  • The WISH List, which describes itself as “the nation’s largest fundraising network for pro-choice Republican women candidates at all levels of government.”

The RLC alone makes me deeply leery of Michael Steele as RNC Chairman. These groups want to purge the GOP of social conservatives, but for whom there would have never been any winning Republican coalitions in the last thirty years. Then there is his position that Roe v. Wade should remain in place, a position that is outside the platform of the very party he wants to lead.

As Streiff, a Maryland resident, noted, “Mr. Steele’s stated opinions place him comfortably in that part of the party occupied by Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, and his co-founders of the RLC. “1

There is also this: at this time, the GOP needs a work horse, not a show horse. There are enough big egos in the party apparatus in D.C. already competing for air time. Lt. Gov. Steele would, I’m afraid, cause friction among the big egos as he became a dominate voice in the party — and that would disrupt more than help. We need someone who can bring all the egos together and rebuild the party.

Lastly, I’m having a hard time gauging how successful GOPAC has been in the past couple of years and would appreciate any information on that.

Again, I can be persuaded. But right now, put me in the “we need an RNC member” camp — that’s where we’ll find the work horse. I am very comforted that the RNC committeemen and women who will actually be voting on this are unlikely to be persuaded otherwise. [NOTE TO THE RNC: Mike Duncan must go.]

For you activists who bristle when I say this, I’d tell you to look at Georgia. Two years ago the activists began agitating for one of their own to be party chair. They got what they wanted, but not what they needed. And the Georgia GOP has gone from being a gem of a party to a craptacular excuse for a party.

We need a competent manager and organizer, not a face.

  1. In fairness, he was running for Lt. Governor of Maryland and being in favor of overturning Roe would have been the immediate death of his campaign. I’m practical enough to understand the realities of abortion politics in this country, but to also start the RLC and fill it with pro-aborts bothers me.