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 March, 2009


 G.O.P. Leader Michael Steele is in Trouble

Leave Michael Steele Alone

When I was in Air Force basic training our training instructor announced, “You’re alright, until I get to know your name. When I know your name – for good or for bad things – you’re in trouble.”

That meant if you got his attention for being an exceptional airman, he’d “volunteer” you for a variety of time-consuming tasks. But once he learned your name, for the wrong reasons – he’d make your life miserable.

Fortunately for me, I was so hopelessly average he never learned my name. (I can’t remember his name either, so I guess we’re even.) What’s that have to do with politics?

Do you know the name Michael Steele?

Well, the fact that many people who follow national politics are so familiar with his name, spells big problems for Steele. After all, who knows the name of the last Chair of the Republican National Committee? (It was Mike Duncan.)

In fact, most Democrats would be hard pressed to name the current chair of the Democratic National Committee. (It’s Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who’s probably too busy performing his duties to care about gaining national name recognition.)

Steele, on the other hand, is becoming a gaffe-a-day, laugh-a-minute household name, and daily reminder that the Republican Party is in deep trouble. That’s why I hope Steele, despite the current talk to the contrary, keeps his job.

His “hip-hop” outreach that was aimed at broadening the party was met with snickers. By defining Rush Limbaugh as a mere “entertainer” whose rhetoric is “ugly,” he faced jeers – and most notably from Limbaugh himself. That was followed by a hasty apology and, as a result, more jeers.

Steele has admitted that his first weeks as RNC Chair were a bit bumpy.

Limbaugh even indicated that Steele spent too much time on TV being a celebrity – so Steele decided to spend less time on TV being a celebrity. Yet, he’d already given an interview to GQ Magazine weeks before his TV sabbatical, and that blew up in his face.

It reveals a guy who has a propensity to slip from one verbal banana peel to another.Even when he’s engaged in a discussion that hasn’t a hint of controversy, he still enthusiastically stubs his toes.

During that interview Steele restated his affection for hip-hop, by name-dropping hip-hop artists like Diddy (whom he still calls P. Diddy) and Grandmaster Flash (whom he claims isn’t really hip-hop, but he is).

So far, so good, if you don’t count his curious lack of knowledge about hip-hop artists he says he loves.
It’s there Steele pivoted, and slammed his soon-to-be-stubbed toes into a big ole wall. When asked who else he likes, Steele beamed, “I like Sinatra. I like old-school. I’m a big PACK RAT. I love the PACK RATS from the 1950s—Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, those guys.” The Pack What? I never knew Sinatra, Martin and Davis were known for collecting stuff.

Yet, his crowning lack of achievement came later. “Are you saying you think women have the right to choose abortion,” the interviewer asked. “I think that’s an individual choice,” he replied.

That set off shockwaves across the Republican Party. So many, Steele had to issue a clarification the day after the interview text surfaced.
He claims he’s pro-life, which makes him the only person in America who’s both pro-life and pro-choice at the same time. Not only that, his clarification needs a clarification. “Roe vs. Wade was wrongly decided and should be repealed,” Steele clarified.

Well, since Roe vs. Wade is a Supreme Court decision it can’t be “repealed.” It can’t be overturned either, since it’s the Supreme Court’s final word.

What’s more confusing is the stance he took about that same ruling in 2006. On that day he appeared on Meet the Press, and when he was asked about keeping Roe vs. Wade in place, he replied, ““My desire is that we follow what stare decisis (or, the law is as it is) is at this point, yes.”

No wonder there’re Democrats across the country hoping Steele keeps his job.

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