Monday, October 5, 2009

The "Other H.N.I.C." Gets Put In His Place.

Like him or not, you hate seeing a brother like Michael Steele continually play himself on such a public stage. Now, the GOP is even growing tired of his sideshow and recently "put him in his place".
GOP leaders, in a private meeting last month, delivered a blunt and at times heated message to RNC Chairman Michael Steele: quit meddling in policy.

The plea was made during what was supposed to be a routine discussion about polling matters and other priorities in House Minority Leader John Boehner’s office. But the session devolved into a heated discussion about the roles of congressional leadership and Steele, according to multiple people familiar with the meeting.

The congressional leaders were particularly miffed that Steele had in late August unveiled a seniors’ “health care bill of rights” without consulting with them. The statement of health care principles, outlined in a Washington Post op-ed, began with a robust defense of Medicare that puzzled some in a party not known for its attachment to entitlements.

Elected Republicans urged Steele to focus on the governors’ races in New Jersey and Virginia and other political matters, such as fundraising, rather than on attempting to establish party policy.

Steele was taken aback by the comments from Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Senate GOP conference Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Senate GOP policy Chairman John Thune of South Dakota and grew defensive during the 10-minute discussion, according to two people in the room.

The RNC, according to one source, was planning to roll out more policy initiatives.

Steele said he was getting asked during his travels around the country where the GOP stood on a range of issues and that he wanted to respond to these questions.

And at one point, Steele, a Washington native, said that his upbringing in the “streets” made him a fighter and that he was determined to continue fighting and aggressively defending the party, according to two people familiar with the account.

Alexander, who initiated the discussion and, sources say, was the most uneasy about Steele’s crafting policy, told POLITICO that he spoke to Steele last weekend about the matter and that the congressional leadership and the RNC chairman are now all on the same page.
Heh, heh, "all on the same page", huh?

And how lovely is it that Mike played the "I'm from the mean streets of Souf'Eas" card? Even better is this passage.
RNC officials declined to make Steele available for an interview.
Ah yes, the world famous "declined to make him available". Really? Uh, isn't his job more or less to be the freakin' spokesman? How can you not make a spokesman available for comment? Isn't that sorta like a scripper that doesn't scrip, or a non-shooting shooting guard? Obviously, he isn't being "made available" cause the higher ups told him to shut up and Go. Sit. Down. Mike apparently thought he was the HNIC. Too bad he's the only "N", period. Know your place, boy!
There are larger issues at hand, though, beyond a tense exchange over strategy. Since Steele took over the party earlier this year, congressional leaders and their staff have often cringed at the voluble chairman’s gaffes and rolled their eyes at his unambiguous view that he alone leads the party.

“He’s on a short leash here,” said one top House GOP leadership aide.
On a "short leash"? Uhh, couldn't they find a cliche with fewer negative cultural connotations? Why didn't they just say "we're giving him just enough rope to ha...". Aw, nevermind. Here's the really telling quote.
And, this Steele associate said, there is some lingering resistance among the party’s congressional leaders and their top aides to fully embrace Steele as chairman.
And by "lingering resistance", what exactly might this article be suggesting? One thing's for certain, if race is the 800 pound elephant here (and I think Politico is inferring that it is, in the most cowardly of manners), Steele sure as hell won't have the balls to say it. Sure, he doesn't resist the urge to plaster Dems (and Obama) with having "played the race card" when politically expedient, but he's more or less given away his own card in the process.

[Editor's Aside: Just this morning, Steele was on Fox And Friends doing his usual bit of tough guy posturing about nothing whatsoever. Once the interview ended, and Steele was off camera, the hosts (his former colleagues) launched into a 30 second jibe about how Steele's suits have gotten much more expensive since he got the new job. Then, seemingly catching themselves mid-thought, they realized how silly this looked, and one of them (the blond guy) even blurted out "I hope he couldn't hear us". 5 minute interview, and all they heard was that zoot suit all along. Yep, Mike, that's what they think about you.]

Just as I suggested when Steele won election in January, this will not end well. Steele sure as hell isn't helping himself with his deluxe Steve Harvey suits and laughable public appearances, but reality is, the guy is more or less who he's always been. If the GOP hadn't been so hellbent on finding their own Obama, they might have noticed this before it was too late. But as is, they're stuck with the guy until they can let him go in the most public, and surely humiliating of fashions. Should GOP candidates get off to a slow start fundraising next year, he'll be an easy culprit.

Question: Is Steele a classic example of when "keepin' it token goes wrong", or is he a competent politician who is simply being undermined by his own party?

GOP leaders to Michael Steele: Back off [Politico]

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