Monday, February 2, 2009

AB's Unsolicited Advice For Michael Steele.

Well, you did it. You survived a grueling six rounds of voting and became the 63rd Chair of the Republican National Committee. As much as some folks will marginalize this as nothing more than window dressing, you should be proud of your accomplishment. Even the cynical hater in me admits I smiled a bit when you did your acceptance speech the other day. But the gig's just beginning.

Since I did the same for Obama (and it worked), I'm gonna hook you up too, because I'm just bipartisan like that. Here's how you can help the GOP shake some semblance of its less-than-inclusive past.

Come Clean On That Oreo Cookie Incident - This is sorta "inside baseball" for Marylanders, but a few years back when Steele was running along with Gubernatorial candidate Bob Ehrlich, an urban legend was born. Allegedly, some supporters of Ehrlich's opponent, the dastardly Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, "pelted Steele with a barrage of Oreo cookies" that were "thick in the air like locusts". If this sounds slightly unbelievable to you, join the crowd. Given the fact that this was an NAACP-moderated debate in Charm City, I couldn't see such Negro Nonsense going down. This didn't stop Steele from running the story into the ground, Tawanna Brawley-style, as evidence of how backwards the state Democratic Party was. Given dozens of chances to refute this story on the record in the years since, Steele's never come clean. This sounds trivial, but if you're going to attempt to lure black voters, you might wanna put this one to bed.

Grow A Pair - I understand not shaking the cat-sh*t outta Chip Saltsman for that "Barack The Magic Negro" stocking stuffer. You were running. Bringing up race makes those who might vote for you very uncomfortable. Word to Barack. But now, you are the HNIC. Never mind the fact that there are no other N's in the party. Yeah, we know, we know, Hillary and Bill didn't exactly run the most PC campaign themselves. That's the Dems' problem, not yours. Allowing such nonsense to fester in the future will only further the impression that you're a mere figurehead, which I know you're not. You went to Hopkins and Georgetown for crissakes. You grew up in Chocolate City. C.Y.I.N! Put some fools in check!

Abandon The Historical Rhetoric - The GOP may be the party of Lincoln. MLK may have been a Republican. But guess what? Nobody gives a sh*t! That outdated message is irrelevant. What have you done for us lately? Perception is reality, and perception is that the GOP doesn't give a sh*t about anyone but Whites below the Mason Dixon.

Be Easy With Obama - For better or for worse, whether he earned it or not, Barack Obama is The Most Popular Negro evar right now. The last thing you wanna do is piss off Black voters by getting into a one-sided pissing match with him. For now, your focus should be on getting your own peoples in check, not cutting down The Beige Savior. That's a bad look. Don't let your colleagues use you as their Negro Mouthpiece To Takedown Obama. You're smarter than that, too.

Issues, Not Ideology - Here's a novel idea: not everyone cares about abortion and guns. You can make a point about the differences in what your party advocates without falling into the trap of using dogeared phrases like "big government". People don't care about this mumbojumbo anymore. They want to know what you're going to tanglibly do for them, not what principles your party is "founded on".

C.Y.I.N. On Rush And Hannity - I know you were just collecting a check for Fox News. I also know Rush Limbaugh has millions of listeners. But guess what? These wingnuts aren't "mainstream America". They're both actors who have found a very profitable role and are running it into the ground. Don't look to these guys as bellweathers for what the party should represent, especially given the venom they spew. If you really wanna win some folks over, make an example of one of these cats really soon, in a really public way. Tell em' to get down, or lay down. They might have been the sh*t back in 04', but this is your party now. F*ck yo' couch, n*gga!!!

Expand Your Territory - The GOP seems to only care about the mythical "Middle America", which basically means the South and flyover states. Guess what? Obama effectively stole this from you by appealing to everyone, not pulling some underhanded "Us vs Them" jack move. Change your message, and change who you're sending it to.

Don't Audition For Your Next Job - You'll be on TV more than ever now (cut off that George Jefferson and stop buying off-the-rack suits while you're at it). The temptation to floss and delude yourself into thinking you can parlay this gig into a Senate spot will be heavy. Don't take your hands off the wheel. Remember, you lost (albeit closely) in your own home state. Do one job at a time. The rest will work itself out.

Ignore Palin - Let's be clear about one thing: Sarah Palin should not be your candidate in 2012. Period. She is a walking punchline. Yes, she "energized the base", but lets face it, she hurt you more than she helped. And you got walloped, 54%-48% in the popular vote. Don't fall prey. Groom some of the other young guys (Pawlenty, Jindal) and leave this sideshow packed in ice.

Reach Out - I've seen you work a room/crowd. You were the man at that PG Classic last year. People may not like what you represent, but they will at least give you a chance. Let your party know that Black folks won't bite. You don't have to come to our churches and pretend to sing songs you don't know (like Kennedy Townsend did... FAIL), or clap offbeat. Just show up, talk to us like human beings, and allow us to make the call. But by ignoring us altogether like you did this Fall, you send the message that you don't care. And guess what, if you wanna regain the Number One Spot anytime int his century, you might need to realize America is getting browner and browner. Put in the work.

I can't promise you that doing the above will help you in 2010 or even 2012, but I think it's generally agreed upon that your party needs to evolve, or go the way of the Betamax. For the sake of fairness, America needs (at least) two viable political parties to keep things in order.

That's my unsolicited advice, Mike. I'll bill you later.

Question: What advice would you give Michael Steele? For the 193rd time, is there anything specific that the GOP needs to do to broaden its appeal and win over more minority voters?

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