(WASHINGTON D.C.) Arlen Specter defects to the Democrats. Americans thumb their noses at the Republican party. Barack Obama is more popular than ever.
And all the while GOP head Michael Steele strums his fingers together like a comic book villain. That's because the Republican disarray is the fruit of a decades-old plot by Democrats to infiltrate the highest levels of the GOP and then sabotage it.
The plan hinged on the most unlikeliest of events: undercover Democrat Steele being elected Republican chairman, which remarkably came true in January.
But Steele nearly ruined the intricate plot when he couldn't keep up his subterfuge. Just a few months into the job, he had revealed his donkey ears so many times--like by saying abortion is a woman's choice--that Democrats considered pulling him out.
"Mike was just in too deep. He couldn't handle the pressure," said Democrat chairman Tim Kaine. "We were shocked he folded so quickly after playing to role for years. But as soon as he said he was sending Bobby Jindal some 'slum love,' we all knew he was at his end."
Steele also showed a number of disturbing contradictions. For instance, the P.Diddy- and Snoop Dogg-loving politico vowed to bring a younger, hipper voter to the staid Republican Party, and tried to impress those voters with the 'slum love' comment and even saying President Obama's stimulus package was full of 'bling bling.'
Yet he labeled his critics "Nervous Nellies."
"One moment he's the Fresh Prince, the next he's Carlton Banks," said Arizona Sen. John Kyl. "I'm whiter than marshmallows dipped in vanilla ice cream and even I don't use 'Nervous Nellies.' It was so obvious that there was something else going on."
Steele's ascension was a longtime coming. He was recruited to go undercover in 1984 by then Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, Sen. Ted Kennedy, former President Jimmy Carter and then N.Y. Gov. Mario Cuomo. Steele accepted the challenge in exchange for the group paying his way to Georgetown law school.
Through the years, he preached the GOP message of fiscal responsibility for poor people so convincingly that he rose steadily through party ranks.
Yet once elected chairman, the facade crumbled. Steele could no longer hide his contempt for the Republicans, and even began an ongoing argument with Rush Limbaugh. The arch-conservative is just the type of Republican the GOP is trying to ignore, yet Steele's continued jabbering with the radio host has masterfully set the radio host in the public's mind as the true face of the party.
Then in March, he told GQ that he feels abortion-which the Republican Party has long opposed-was "an individual choice." He tried to play down the statement, but couldn't.
Now, with 74 percent of Americans saying they aren't Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the party is embarrassed by Steele's selection.
"We were just fooled so badly," he said. "I mean he's black for god's sake. Didn't anyone notice that? How could we have thought he wasn't a Democrat?"
Yet, while the party is in turmoil and Steele's role in the sabotage has been revealed, Republicans aren't moving to oust him.
"What else are we going to do? We already lost Bobby Jindal. If we lose Michael, then our search for a brown prince to challenge President Obama is going to be seriously hurting," said Sen. John McCain.
After a moment, however, McCain mused, "I wonder what J.C. Watt is up to these days."