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Robert J. Elisberg Headshot

GOP Discovers How Not to Steele an Election

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The problem for Republicans with Michael Steele, chairman of the RNC, isn't that he puts his foot in his mouth more than a six-month toddler. The problem isn't even that he postures as if he has authority with the American people.

The problem is that there is no one with any stature or guts in the Republican Party to tell Michael Steele how much damage he's doing to the Republican Party and to just stop it.

It's really not worth much telling the tale of Michael Steele alone. By himself, he's meaningless on the national political stage. He's an administrator, the in-house executive director overseeing fundraising and organization. In truth, he runs a committee. You know, the "C" part of Republican National Committee.

What is worth telling, however, is the tale of a political party that has, by choice, allowed itself to be approvingly identified with a sputtering figurehead.

It all became too much to ignore when, this past weekend, committee head Michael Steele said that he's "done" trying to reach out to the president of the United States, after attempting "several times." And this, he insists, therefore means there is no bipartisanship in Washington "that I know of."

Shocking, I know, that the president of the United States has been too busy during the past two months to spend quality time with the administrative head of a committee. And after "several" overtures, no less!

(Question: how many meetings in four years do you think George Bush took with Howard Dean, when he headed up the DNC? If your answer is any more than "zero," you've likely overbid.)

Further, this is the same Michael Steele who, after House Republicans voted 172-0 against the Administration's stimulus package said, "The goose egg that you laid on the president's desk was just beautiful. Absolutely beautiful." Hint: this is not the way to show you're interested in bipartisanship. Unless you live in OppositeLand.

And the thing is, though mere weeks into the new president's term, elected on a platform of change and bipartisanship, not one Republican had the strength or wisdom to chastise the RNC chairman for cheering a roadblock to that bipartisanship.

This is the same Michael Steele who proclaimed on the night of his RNC election, "And to those of you who will obstruct [us], get ready to get knocked over."

And not one Republican stood up and told Michael Steele that this wasn't the best way to start a dialogue of bipartisanship between their party and the newly-elected president of the United States. That his saying that bipartisanship is "done" is a very bad thing, a horrible signal to send to the American public, that the Republican Party is putting an end to bipartisan efforts.

The Republican Party has created their own monster. They elected Michael Steele chairman of their party's committee. They have all stood by, silent, approving as he puts the Republican Party imprint on a menagerie of statements guaranteed to bewilder the American public:

"Not in the history of mankind has the government ever created a job" ignored such minor employment as the postal service, fire department, his own previous-job as Lt. Governor of Maryland, and the Roman sentries of Julius Caesar.

Or the bizarre circus of his first stating that Rush Limbaugh is "incendiary" and ugly" -- then claiming "there was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership" -- and finally insulting the intelligence of human life forms everywhere by insisting, "It may look like a mistake, a gaffe" but was actually intentional. "There is a rationale, there's a logic behind it." It is a "logic" that says if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's actually a French poodle.

If your five-year-old child tried this on you, you'd send him to his room without desert. But Republican Party leaders accepted all this from their administrative executive. Perhaps because that's been their game plan for the past four years: screw up and try to convince the American public that the Iraq War, economy, Katrina, and nominating Sarah Palin were not gaffes, but that there's a logic behind it all.

Perhaps, too, that's why there was no response from Republicans when the bumbling Michael Steele also said he "would think about" running for president. Yet only if "that is where God wants me to be at that time."

(This is so right-wing Republican. It's God's choice for president. Never mind the voters.)

The problem here isn't whether Michael Steele should run for president, or just get anointed by God. It's that his core job as chairman of the Republican National Committee is to keep his party united by being apolitical himself. Saying for the record that he would consider running for president obliterates that.

And again, not one Republican leader has been willing to express concern. Given the laughingstock Michael Steele has become, you'd think the last thing any Republican would want is him to head their ticket one day. Yet there was only silence..

Michael Steele being out of control, pandering and floundering symbolizes the Republican Party today. And in the end, that may well be why Republican leadership (whatever in the world that may be) seems absolutely fine with his inconceivable actions and words As you sow shall you reap.