William Kristol has finally said what we've all been thinking but were either too indulgent or PC to say: Michael Steele must go.
In an open letter to the beleaguered Republican National Committee chairman, the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol called for Steele's resignation for the good of the party. Many other Republicans have also joined in the chorus. Steele, as we all know, has had a rough time of it since taking the party's helm in January 2009. Not because he's black and therefore has a "slimmer margin for error," as he once claimed, but because he suffers from an acute inability to -- how shall I put this? -- STFU.
His latest and thus far greatest gaffe came at a July 1 RNC event where he suggested that the Afghan war could not be won and astonishingly seemed to blame President Obama for starting it in the first place. Those remarks, said Democratic National Committee Communications Director Brad Woodhouse, put Steele "at odds with about 100 percent of the Republican Party." That would include me.
Reasonable minds may disagree as to the propriety of the war in Afghanistan. But we can all get behind this: It's clearly past time for the well intentioned yet vexaciously bungling Michael Steele to stand down. He's shot himself so many times in the foot that he has barely one mangled stump left to stand on at this point.
Steele weathered the many calls for his resignation after The Daily Caller broke the Bondage-gate scandal earlier this year by revealing that the RNC reimbursed $2,000 of a staffer's expenses at Voyeur, a lesbian bondage-themed Hollywood nightclub. So it would not be surprising if he tried to ride this one out too. In fact, by all appearances, that seems to be the plan. Steele quickly began backpedaling, explaining that he, indeed, does support our troops and on Thursday confirmed that he "ain't going anywhere," instructing his critics to "stop the noise."
Michael Steele's tenure as the head of the RNC was an experiment that did not work. After Barack Obama's ascent to the presidency, the Republican leadership presumably felt it had to do something, anything, to respond to the Democrats' apparent cornering of the young, hip, multi-culti market. And it chose Steele to be the face of its openness to inclusion.
Good idea in and of itself, but Execution FAIL.
The Republican Party has its work cut out for it as it looks to combat the enduring myth that the Democratic Party is home for young people and people of color. But if Steele takes the hint and quits, it shouldn't try for another purely cosmetic, knee-jerk solution.
And, in the meantime, if Steele does not do the right thing and tender his resignation, I would settle for him learning to, well, STFU.
A version of this post originally appeared on the Daily Caller on July 2, 2010