Monday, July 05, 2010

Michael Steele: The Problem That Solves Itself

An interesting take on Michael Steele from ABC's This Week, via Cynthia Tucker:
Let's remember how the party wound up with Michael Steele. In November 2008, the party was devastated that the Democrats had elected the nation's first black president, while the Republican Party was stuck with being seen as largely the party of aging white people, with good reason, a party that was hostile to people of color, especially blacks and Latinos.

So the party needed a new face, preferably a face of color, and they didn't have very many officials to choose from, so they came up with Michael Steele. And it is very ironic, since the Republicans have been so critical of affirmative action, to watch them stuck with their affirmative action hire that they dare not get rid of, because that would generate even more controversy.
I certainly HOPE they hired Steele because he's African American; if they chose him on his merits they obviously have seriously bad management skills. But then, as the weekend update guy on SNL said the week he was put in as chairman: "You guys know it can't just be any black man, right?"

The problem is, by not generating the controversy of a firing they are instead generating the controversy of hating black people so much they even hate their own chairman! Poor Steele is left out there to hang all by himself. This is bad for the RNC, right?


Because the message received depends on who is watching. There must be a pretty good base in the Republican party who watches the Steele train wreck and shakes its collective head and says, "See? That's what happens when you put a black man in charge of something. It's just like the way Obama is ruining the country."  These are the same people, mind you, who believe the economy was doing just fine until Obama was elected. So these Republicans understand that they're stuck with an incompetent black because they'd be criticized for firing him, and they forgive the RNC, maybe love it all the more. Outsiders like me shrug and say, "I told you the Republicans were incompetent." So Steele becomes another dog-whistle to the racists, and the rest of us just think the RNC is nuts. Like we already did.

Of course, the danger is that Steele is accelerating the split between the Republicans and the Tea Party, the one I'm counting on to keep Republicans out of office in November. Again it's a danger depending on who is watching.

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