The Corner

Playing Cards

In case you missed it on Sunday, George Will had some tough words for Michael Steele, the embattled RNC chairman: “He has fundamentally misconstrued his job, which is to be the face and the ideological spokesman for the Republican party.”

“There are a lot of people who do that,” Will said, “but the best party chairmen are like major league umpires. If, at the end of the game, they go back into the dressing room and no one has noticed them, they’ve done their job brilliantly. They strive for anonymous perfection, and that should be the role of the party chairman. The best Republican party chairmen – Ray Bliss of Ohio, who rebuilt the party after the Goldwater meltdown, Bill Brock, former senator from Tennessee, who built the party up on the eve of the Reagan triumph – they were perfectly anonymous. And I’m not sure that this man has understood that.”

Steele doesn’t appear to have taken Will’s advice. Earlier today, he appeared on Good Morning America and told George Stephanopoulos that he has less room for error as chairman due to his race. “The honest answer is yes,” Steele said. “It just is. Barack Obama has a slimmer margin. A lot of folks do . . . That’s just the reality of it . . . My view on politics is much more grassroots-oriented. It’s not old-boy network oriented. I tend to come at it a little bit stronger, a little more streetwise if you will. That rubs some feathers the wrong way.”

Robert Gibbs, of course, had a quick comeback at today’s morning meeting with reporters. “I think that is a fairly silly comment to make,” he said. “I think Michael Steele’s problem isn’t the race card; it’s the credit card.”

I think Dan Amira at New York has it right: “Steele probably blew a chance to cool this down.” Besides, as Ben Smith notes, “Jonathan Martin made a pretty convincing case a few months ago that, in some sense, the reverse is true within a Republican party that’s almost entirely without prominent African-American officials.”


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