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Conservatives &Politics Richard Falknor on 03 Apr 2009 10:00 pm

Steele: Lobbying for wrong ends-missing the bigger picture?

“It is as hard to get rid of an ineffective chairman of the RNC as it is to get rid of a bad teacher in the New York City public schools.” – – Ken Blackwell here.

Today’s Ralph Z. Hallow post – “Steele urged to target stimulus” – in the Washington Times brings us back to the truly lamentable tale of this Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman.

Lamentable because so many Republicans became invested in the star-like qualities they expected from Mr. Steele; lamentable because so many of our Maryland friends hoped they could bring someone whom they believed was one of their own conservatives, attractive and articulate, on to the national stage; and lamentable because it is increasingly apparent that the good Mr. Steele may simply be over his head with all that implies for those who elected him and the party of which he is a representative.

But first, let’s review some recent history.

Early last month, we wrote in our “Should an RNC Chairman Lose Sleep Over the Constitution?” here about RNC chairman Michael Steele’s lobbying for the unconstitutional DC-Utah House Voting Rights Act –.

Mr. Steele found time in his schedule last month to urge passage of the DC-Utah House Voting Rights Act.  The Washington City Paper here quotes Mr. Steele –  “I think it’s an important civil right for the residents of this city,” said Steele, a native of Ward 4. “Having grown up here I understand how important it is to them.” The left-oriented Huffington Post presents more detail here in their “Steele Lobbying GOP On District Voting Rights.” But many Republican senators are right now fighting a hard battle against president Barack Obama’s efforts to collectivize our economy and our society. They need all the help they can get. We hope that Mr. Steele can find time over this weekend to lobby for the Republican amendments here (see also here and here ) to the “staggering” Obama Omnibus Appropriations package.

In mid-February, in our post “Steele’s Stimulus, Census Responses Called ‘Disappointing'” we reported – –

NRO heavyweight Andrew McCarthy in his “Steele’s Disappointing Start – His vapid critiques of the stimulus and census should have Democrats smiling” here declares –

‘That is the message of the first salvos fired by — or dribbled out of — the Republican National Committee under the leadership of its new chairman, Michael Steele. Over the weekend, the RNC issued press releases in response to the passage of the Democrats’ appalling ’stimulus’ package and the Obama administration’s machinations over the 2010 census. It shouldn’t have bothered. The releases are self-inflicted wounds that read like self-parody.’(Underscoring Forum’s.)

Former Federal prosecutorMcCarthy had written at the end of January here about the RNC chairman’s endorsement — right out of the gate — of the dangerous Eric Holder, then the Attorney General-designate and now the confirmed incumbent.

Today McCarthy explains here

“When [Holder] is not bravely lecturing Americans about their cowardice on race, our attorney general is running roughshod over his Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) — and shamefully politicizing his Solicitor General’s Office — in order to uphold patently unconstitutional legislation, the D.C. Voting Rights Act, that hasn’t even been enacted yet. One might have thought, given his purported war epiphany, that Holder would prioritize the valid laws designed to protect Americans from jihadists over the invalid non-laws designed to protect Democrats from losing their congressional majority.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

All of which brings us to Ralph Z. Hallow’s column of this day here “Steele urged to target stimulus” —

“Mr. Steele, the first black national chairman of his party, has complained about criticism from fellow Republicans, most recently at an Anne Arundel County GOP fundraiser Tuesday night.

Speaking at the Annapolis Sheraton, he alluded to remarks he had made earlier on CNN, when he said his row with Mr. Limbaugh and his comments on abortion were not mistakes but part of a strategic plan to get his GOP enemies to reveal themselves.

‘I’m very introspective about things,’ Mr. Steele said at the Sheraton. ‘I’m a cause-and-effect kind of guy. So if I do something there is a reason for it. Even though it may look like a mistake or a gaffe, there’s a rationale – a logic – behind it.’

Asked why he would purposely say things that would be construed as gaffes, he said, ‘I want to see what the landscape looks like. I want to see who yells the loudest. I want to know who says they’re with me but really isn’t.’

Asked why he feels a need to flush out the opposition, he said, ‘It helps me understand my position on the chess board. It helps me understand where the enemy camp is. And where those who are inside the tent are. It’s all strategic.’

But Mrs. McLarty said, ‘I don’t really buy that. I think he just said things in his gut that didn’t come out right for conservatives.'” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

In our view, this latest demand (which Hallow reports) from conservative Republican national committeemen for a special meeting with Steele is not just about how best to criticize the Other Team (and Republican fellow-travelers) for their fast emerging vulnerabilities. 

Rather this party challenge also reflects the profound, continuing distrust  that Mr. Steele has engendered among not just party officials but conservatives nationally. 

Star Parker, for example, says here

“This is not a time when we can muddle through with a leader who is not sure who he is, who is not clear about the principles of his party, and who is not consumed with the importance of the cultural war that we now confront.”(Underscoring Forum’s.)

In our view, columnist Parker hits the nail on the head about the importance of the cultural war.

Overall, we commend the analysis of a Marylander, Cato of Delmarva Dealings, which we earlier cited here

“Claiming the mantle of Reagan conservatism, Steele would only be considered conservative in his home state of Maryland (and a few other leftist dominated areas).  It’s wrong for us to expect him to be successful in promoting a philosophy that he may grasp in his mind, but cannot feel in his heart.

In many ways he is the mirror opposite of Sarah Palin.  As I have noted before, Palin is a true believer.  She would simply be better served by a better intellectual underpinning in the philosophy to which she already believes in her heart and mind.  Steele on the other hand, is left with platitudes because he can’t adequately argue for something that is foreign to his philosophical makeup.”

Mr. Steele’s reported remarks at the recent Anne Arundel County GOP fundraiser are embarrassing on their face, not just to the national party but to the chairman himself. Perhaps there is some way his talents can be better focussed and supported by savvy staff and by key national committeemen.  If not – as we never tire of writing – these are not normal times for the Republic, we need the best we have in this position. Someone, in Andrew McCarthy’s words, who is “tournament tough.”

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