Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele was tapped for his job in large part due to his dexterity and savvy with the press. So it's been surprising to watch him struggle with interviews and, more recently, engage in increasingly testy exchanges with reporters.
The latest came on Wednesday morning, when Steele got into a rather hostile (and certainly uncomfortable) back-and-forth with Donny Deutsch, the business-and-politics commentator and frequent guest on "Morning Joe".
The topic was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's comparison of Republican obstructionism on health care to the foot-dragging witnessed during the debate over civil rights. Republicans cried foul, saying Reid is "belittling" the experiences of African-Americans. Steele, on Wednesday, called the Nevada Democrat "plain ignorant."
Reid, in response, insisted he was just pointing out the historical resistance to any big social change. And when Deutsch asked Steele what he found so objectionable about this explanation, the RNC chairman became short and inimical. Here is the exchange (staring about 3/5 into the video):
Deutsch: Any great change throughout history has the naysayer saying, it's not time. It's not time. So why was that an irrelevant analogy?
Steele: I won't even dignify that with a response. Next question.
Deutsch: Won't even dignify it? It's a genuine question.
Steele: Next question. Next question.
Deutsch: It's a genuine question.
Steele: Come on. I'm sorry sir. I'm not going to sit here and say that it's an appropriate comparison to slavery, what's going on with health care.
Deutsch: He is comparing it to dramatic change and the naysayers to change
Steele: Ok. Whatever. Whatever. Next question
Deutsch: That's a great response that is a very, very intelligent, brave response.
Steele: It is. As was your question.