In the game of politics there are, for the most part, three portions of the electorate: there are those who will always vote Republican, those who will always vote Democrat, and those in the middle. Every election cycle the politician's job is to ensure that those who always vote for their party make it to the polls and to get as much of that elusive middle group who could go either way to vote for them. This usually involves some type of crossover in the politician's platform or more centrist views in general.
Enter Michael Steele. His job is to ensure that Republicans win their elections nationwide. So far, he has failed miserably. He is a walking gaffe and continues to shove his foot directly into his mouth whenever given the chance. We all remember when he called the War in Afghanistan a "war of Obama's choosing" that this country had not "actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in."
I've already discussed at length why Steele was wrong about Obama choosing to go into Afghanistan on my own blog (though to be fair to Steele, he was dead-on with that fact that land wars in the Middle Eastern country are almost always futile efforts). His newest gaffe comes on the heels of Newt Gingrich's comments to the National Review, in which Gingrich stated, "What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?"
When asked by CNN's John King if he thought Gingrich was playing to the birther crowd or possibly race-baiting, Steele replied, "No, I don't. I don't see that stretch." Steele even defended Gingrich's claim that Obama may have a Kenyan worldview by asking, "Where's his dad from?"
The problem with all of this is not the obvious pandering to the birther crowd, but the fact that it is common knowledge that Obama's relationship with his father was essentially non-existent. In fact, Barack Obama only met his father once, making it very difficult to absorb a "Kenyan" worldview from his Kenyan-born father.
But what is just as disturbing, if not more so, is Limbaugh's (and Steele's subsequent defense) of the term "anti-colonial" in an almost derogatory sense. Do Gingrich and Steele believe that anti-colonial sentiment is a backward philosophy in our 21st century world? Do they truly believe that colonialism has made this world a better one for all? The utter atrocities committed in the name of colonialism, and the ensuring political instability, have proven that colonialism is, was, and will be a failed philosophy and practice.
But here's why Steele's blind defense of Gingrich is good for Democrats: as the leader of the Republican National Committee, he is only doing half of his job. He's locked down those who will always vote Republican no matter what. The problem is that in doing so he has pushed those in the middle, who wait to see what politicians and figureheads like Gingrich say before voting, away.
No reasonably intelligent individual on the fence about which party to vote for in these crucial midterm elections will be swayed toward the Republicans by their leader's comments. Steele has put too many of his chips into the far right basket, at the expense of losing crucial voters in the middle who will either vote Democratic or will stay at home on election day feeling alienated by both sides of the aisle. Because, let's be honest, the current administration has not lived up to its campaign promises as they should have, though it's not because of any Kenyan, anti-colonial worldview.