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 February, 2009


 The G.O.P. and the Stimulus Package

The Republican’s New Man of Steele?

I’m turning Republican today. The Grand Old Party has suddenly become the party of the future, and I’m going to be a part of it.

The Republican National Committee is now headed by Michael Steele, my new party’s first black chairman, so I can easily overlook my obvious antipathy for just about everything else Republican.

I can also ignore Steele’s ascendance to the top of my party came after five ballots in which he had to edge out a guy who’d been a member of an all-white country club for 12 years.

Many Republicans, I guess, still prefer the past to the future. Is anybody surprised?

Steele is a one time Lieutenant Governor of Maryland. While running for that office, Bob Ehrlich, his running mate and the eventual governor, held a fundraiser at an all-white country club. (Have you noticed a recurring theme here? That a lot of Republicans seem to have an affinity for all-white country clubs. When I finish this, I’m going to run out and join one myself)

Steele’s response to Ehrlich’s choice of campaign venues was mystifyingly tepid. "I don't know that much about that club and its membership. Nor do I care, quite frankly, because I don't play golf." Ata boy Michael. You were running to become a doorstop. You didn’t have to confront historically exclusionary policies. It wouldn’t have been to your advantage.

Steele’s only other run for public office failed when, in 2006, he tried, with a couple of other black Republicans, to become that rarest of individuals – an elected black Republican. Ohio’s Ken Blackwell lost by 24 points in his gubernatorial bid, Lynn Swann caught more passes his final year with the Steelers than he caught votes in his race against Ed Rendell - and Steele lost by 10 points in his run for U.S. Senate.

Since then, Steele has appeared frequently on Fox News attacking Democrats.

That’s his claims to fame. That’s why he’s the new face of the Republican Party. Or, that’s why he’s the face of the Republican Party?

That’s ok. I realize that Republicans have looked over yonder and they see the Democrats are doing quite well in the area of multi-racial politics (his name is Obama), so they needed to either install more tanning beds in their all-white country clubs, or go out and find their own black Republican who can construct coherent sentences in the manner of our new black President. Michael Steele got the call.

He’s really “articulate” they tell us. He’s a real wordsmith who doesn’t play golf – a plus for most Republicans.

Oh, we’ve seen this kind of thing before. John McCain, believing disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters could be lured his way, cynically drafted a woman as his running mate.

Sarah Palin’s crossover appeal was minimal. Thanks to her, if there was any of that, I’m guessing it went from McCain to Obama. There has, however, been an ironic connection between Steele and Palin.

During the Republican National Convention, it was Steele’s use of the phrase “Drill, Baby, Drill” in his (dull) keynote address, that Palin picked up and used as a battle cry.

Unfortunately, Steele, Palin and the people who cheered them didn’t seem bothered by the fact that “Drill, Baby, Drill” was a curious twist on the phrase, “Burn, Baby, Burn” – which had been coined by a black communist activist who got convicted of criminal anarchy – for of all things - using that phrase.

I sure hope Steele continues to mouth the words of terrorists. That’s the kinda fellow the Republican Party needs.
He’s colorful enough, and he’s a non-golfer who likes to throw around phrases with the word “baby” in them. Those are some great credentials.

In fact, during his RNC acceptance speech one of his first applause lines was, “Get ready BABY. It’s time to turn it on, and work to do what we always do well and that is win.”

Well if he knows so much how to win, then how come he’s not Senator Michael Steele?

I’ve changed my mind. I’m staying a Democrat.

Edward A. Owens of Uniontown is Webmaster of “Red Raider Nation: Where Champions Live.” E-mail him at freedoms@bellatlantic.net