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Michael Steele and The Race Card: RNC Head Goes For the Old Standby

In The Wrong Right Turn on 12/11/2010 at 19:20

I have always liked Michael Steele. When he used to be a political commentator on Fox News he was bright, politically astute and had a charming personality. His leadership of the RNC, however, has been deeply flawed. Steele has been a profligate spender and has made poor management choices, the most notable being the lesbian-bondage-themed bar incident last spring.

But what is most disturbing has been Steele’s inclination to flop out the race card at the slightest indication of descent in the ranks against his leadership.

And now he has done it again.

At a time when it is becoming increasingly difficult for any Republican to support him, what does Michael do? He runs the river.

One has to question why Michael Steele would even acknowledge a charlatan like Al Sharpton on the street, much less sit down with him in an interview, but apparently Al and Mike are becoming bosom buddies.

In an interview last week, Sharpton opined, “You’d be the first brother run out after doing a good job. It would be interesting to see them have a historic win, and the brother takes the fall. Usually the brother takes the fall when they lose.” To which Steele responded, “You’re right. Well, you know, that’s going to be remain to be seen.”

This is nothing new for Steele. Way back in 2002 when he was running for lieutenant governor of Maryland, Steele claimed that someone from Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s camp threw Oreo cookies at him, a charge that went unsubstantiated. Still, we believed him and Republican pundits like Sean Hannity and Michelle Malkin jumped to his defense.

There is no doubt that Steele has been the brunt of racial slurs over the years, but his anxiousness to fall back on it as the reason for every criticism is disturbing to say the least. It is one thing, in the heat of a campaign, to take on racist remarks by the opposition, but quite another to accuse members of one’s own party, when no evidence exists to suggest that race is in play.

And it is not.

At outset of the Voyeur lesbian bar incident, Steele was quick to note that he and Barack Obama, being African American, had a “slimmer margin of error” as leaders. That comment was outrageous to the degree that the White House was quick to call it silly.

I was embarrassed for him. Racial accusations are the stock and trade of the liberal left and that he would stoop to such chicanery to hold his office was beneath the man I have always believed him to be.

But most disturbing to me is that, as a longtime conservative politico, Michael Steele seems to possess none of the savvy it takes to avoid these traps. Why in the world would he appear with Al Sharpton anywhere? Why would he choose these venues to get out his message?

Here’s another prime example: “My view on politics is much more grassroots oriented, it’s not old boy network oriented, so I tend to, you know, come at it a little bit stronger, a little bit more street-wise, if you will,” Steele told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, earlier this year. “That’s rubbed some feathers the wrong way.”

If Steele is, as he says, so street-wise, why would he let someone as biased as George Stephanopoulos bait him?

The bottom line is Michael Steele has lost the mandate of the Republican Party. Steele still has a chance to save his political career, if he bows out gracefully now. But if he continues to lodge these baseless allegations he might as well go the way of Scott McClellan.

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