March 5, 2009

Will the Man of Steele Survive?

RealClearPolitics - HorseRaceBlog - Should Republicans Be Worried about Michael Steele?

I have to admit to the fact that I now have a little "Man of Steele" deathwatch clock running now. Jay Cost at Real Clear Politics lays out some excellent points regarding Steele and his current difficulties, only a short time into his tenure as RNC chair.

Cost says first of all, that Rush was right when he told Steele "you're not the head of the party".

"What's the purpose of the RNC? Is it to lead the Republican Party? No. The national committees are not leadership committees. Historically, they never have been - and today they possess none of the coercive power needed to lead an American political party....The purpose of the RNC is to assist Republican candidates in their quests for electoral victories. This includes candidate recruitment and training, as well as strategic advice during the campaign....I would suggest that the RNC Chairman's primary job is to raise and distribute cash."

In other words, Steele does not have a proper understanding of his job description.

"he thinks he is a party leader in a broad sense, tasked with bringing Republican legislators into line, and expanding the party coalition through massive outreach.

But he isn't."

According to Cost, Steele is problematic on three fronts. 1. he may become distracted from his real job of raising money for GOP candidates because he is overly focused on expanding the party. 2. thus far, his rhetoric has been unfocused and internally divisive, threatening moderate office holders one minute, picking a fight with a base favorite the next, which is not good for fundraising as you can't raise money from people you just ticked off. 3. He's now been publicly humiliated from colliding his backside with Rush's size 12's.

Steele's got problems, and irony of ironies, its black folks in the RNC who are the first to pile on. Ada Fisher, North Carolina National Committeewoman, is calling on Steele to resign. She doesn't like the emphasis on outreach and clearly does not believe Steele will improve his performance. I wonder if he is getting calls from Blackwell?

Steele's turn in office may be revelatory of the problem facing the GOP. Because if in fact the RNC chair's job has nothing to do with party outreach to political constituencies needed to build the GOP coalition and forge a winning majority of the electorate, then the question is who is responsible for that? Because that person or persons need to get on the stick quickly and craft a strategy for engaging the diversity that is the electorate. Just selling conservative ideology is not going to cut it and thats kinda where we are at this point. We've got to start selling conservative solutions that address the issues of a broader group of people than we are doing currently.

As for Steele, raising money is an understood part of his job description and as Cost points out, FEC rules require reports on dollars raised, so we'll have a report card on Steele's performance, which ought to sort out his fate in short order.