July 05, 2010
The GOP's Man of Steele

During a 1976 presidential debate with Jimmy Carter, President Ford famously said the nations in the Eastern Block "...did not consider themselves dominated by the Soviet Union..." In the hearts of the people his statement had a kernel of truth, but at the time Eastern Europe was still Communist and under the effective control of the Soviet Union. Ford's gaffe was heavily criticized, made the butt of many jokes and contributed to his defeat.

Republican National chairman Michael Steele recently had a Jerry Ford moment when an open mike recorded him saying that the war in Afghanistan was Obama's war of choice and history tells us it is not winnable. Of course, the war began under President Bush as retaliation for 9-11. Obama did claim during the 2008 campaign that Iraq was the wrong war and Afghanistan was the one we should fight. As with Ford, there may be an element of truth in Steele's comment but given his job, he is not the one to say it.

The job of any national party chair is the three "R"s: Raise money. Rally the troops. Recruit good candidates. Skill requirements include the ability to herd cats, walk a tight rope without falling off too many times and stay on message. A party chair, above all, must not give the opposition openings for attack nor the ammunition to press their assault.

Chairman Steele is an impressive guy. A sharp dresser, good speaker, he knows how to work a room but there has been several openings and deliveries of ammunition to the Democrats under his watch. A dust up with Rush Limbaugh, revelations about speaking fees and a book allegedly criticizing fellow Republicans, lavish spending including strip joints, and his latest off the cuff comments on Afghanistan are among many controversies that have kept the political focus on him rather than the failures of the Democrats.

Mr. Steele has broken too many eggs. Sadly, because there is much to like about him, this Humpty Dumpty must go. The upcoming mid-term elections are far too important to tolerate any distractions especially from party leadership.

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Posted by warrenpeterson at July 05, 2010 01:45 PM | Email This
Comments
1. Originally, I thought that Steele was the best man for the job. He is articulate, handsome (very important these days) and was a black man in the GOP. But I believe that Steele should resign. After seeing him operate now for a time, he functions more like the big spending country club derivative of the GOP than the reformist Gingrich/Pawlenty/Jindal versions. The Country Club Republicans must go, never to be heard from again. In my mind they are almost solely responsible for bringing the present Congress to power and have utterly failed to craft themselves into a team that can win based on smaller government, rational spending and logical immigration reform. We need somebody different than Steele.

Posted by: G Jiggy on July 5, 2010 02:51 PM
2. Heaven forbid we have a politician speak the truth! Obama has chosen to continue this war so it is a war of choice and history (and common sense) tells us it is not winnable).

Why not defend the mans comments since they are the truth? Why must GOP leadership always run from the truth? That is what the american public wants most!

Posted by: Lysander on July 5, 2010 03:29 PM
3. I don't see how Steele's comments help the D's. In fact, if having the R's campaign to bring the troops home would take a lot of the D's thunder, since the wars are not popular.

No, the real people that Steele's comments hurt are the hawks in the Republican Party.

Lysander above @2 is right on.

The wars are bankrupting us. We should just let the Muslims kill each other. That is what they want to do.

You can't both be a fiscal conservative and want to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I choose capitalism and reductions in govt spending.

Is Iran next? Sheesh!

Posted by: Bruce Guthrie on July 5, 2010 04:02 PM
4. Steele is a gaffe machine. The RNC should continue to pay his salary and convince the Democrats to use him instead.

As for Afghanistan -- sure, there is some element of truth to what he said. It was far better to fight jihadis in Iraq than in Afghanistan, which is part of the reason (I believe) that we chose to fight them there. Obama made a strategic decision -- and made quite a bit deal about it, too -- that Iraq was a distraction and that we should focus on Afghanistan.

So in this limited way, Steele is correct. Obama has chosen to focus on Afghanistan, which is a tougher fight than Iraq was. We will all pay the price for his foolishness, but it's not Steele's place to say that. It was McCain's place to say it, and for reasons that only he understands, he did not.

Posted by: jvon on July 5, 2010 11:28 PM
5. Jvon, the GOP will pay the price for backlash against Steele, not for Steeles comment. The people for the most part agree with Steele and would even do more so if the GOP stood by the TRUE statements he said.

They are not only true, but draw to light a big problem the people (including his base) have with Obama.

Posted by: Lysander on July 6, 2010 06:31 AM
6. #5- Can't disagree with that. McCain and Lindsey Graham can speak out on it - Graham is a neo-con and supports comprehensive immigration reform - he loses credibility. McCain changed his views because he is in tough election fight. The less the rank and file GOP says about it, the better off they'll be.

Posted by: KDS on July 6, 2010 11:44 AM
7. I totally stand by Steele and his comments, although it's not his job to give his opinion. Also, it was a total cheap shot to bring up the strip joint spending. It was proven that Steele knew nothing about that.

Posted by: Jamie on July 6, 2010 05:00 PM
8. Thanks for the article. Have you all seen this article in Outside the Beltway? - http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/bad-idea-of-the-week-sarah-palin-for-rnc-chair/. Folks are now beginning to look at alternatives to replace Steele and Sarah Palin's name has been brought up in GOP circles. What do you all think? Steele's vocalized stance on the war is nothing compared to other leading Republican/GOP figures' statements, including Palins'. Palin was taken apart by this ad campaign by the American Values Network (http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/107219-palin-replaces-ahmadinejad-in-new-dc-bus-campaign) regarding her views on domestic oil extraction. "Drill, baby, drill" was incredibly divisive in the public debate about the energy crisis. I'm not sure how divisive Steele's comments have been and will be down the road, but all I know is that he is the least to worry about in tarnishing/damaging the image of the GOP.

Posted by: rphillips on July 7, 2010 10:54 AM
9. Thanks for the article. Have you all seen this article in Outside the Beltway? - http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/bad-idea-of-the-week-sarah-palin-for-rnc-chair/. Folks are now beginning to look at alternatives to replace Steele and Sarah Palin's name has been brought up in GOP circles. What do you all think? Steele's vocalized stance on the war is nothing compared to other leading Republican/GOP figures' statements, including Palins'. Palin was taken apart by this ad campaign by the American Values Network (http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/107219-palin-replaces-ahmadinejad-in-new-dc-bus-campaign) regarding her views on domestic oil extraction. "Drill, baby, drill" was incredibly divisive in the public debate about the energy crisis. I'm not sure how divisive Steele's comments have been and will be down the road, but all I know is that he is the least to worry about in tarnishing/damaging the image of the GOP.

Posted by: rphillips on July 7, 2010 10:56 AM
10. BUT WE HAVE TO SUPPORT FORD!

That Reagan guy, he won't win. Reagan CAN'T WIN! You saw what they did to Barry Goldwater. Reagan would totally lose and we will not see the Republicans gain back the White House for generations

Is that what you want?

Posted by: Steve on July 11, 2010 11:20 PM
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