I’ll have much more on this as the day progresses, but for now, the Steele-y portion of this day’s Morning Jolt . . .
Make No Mistake: The Man Has Nerves of Steele
The good news about any prediction about Michael Steele is that it will probably end up being right, at least temporarily, at some point. Throughout his embattled term at the RNC through Election Day, Steele gave every indication he intended to run for another term as chairman. But as rival candidates emerged — including a few who once had close ties to Steele, like Saul Anuzis, Reince Preibus, and Gentry Collins — and Steele didn’t show for a candidate debate, it appeared Steele might be foregoing a reelection bid. The revelation that the committee was $15 million in debt certainly seemed to make the case for another two years at the helm that much tougher. And as of Monday afternoon, RNC members were hearing that he wasn’t going to run. But then . . .
Fox News sets the stage: “Controversial Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who last month presided over the GOP’s biggest electoral gains since 1938, announced Monday night that he is running for re-election. Ending weeks of rumors that he would not seek a second term, Steele publicly threw his hat into the ring during a conference call this evening with RNC members. ‘I ask for your support and your vote for a second term,’ he declared after going over his record and his vision for approximately fifty minutes — in what at least one RNC member considered Steele’s first re-election speech. According to a copy of his prepared remarks, Steele alluded to his controversial gaffes as chairman: ‘Yes, I have stumbled along the way, but have always accounted to you for such shortcomings. No excuses. No lies. No hidden agenda.’”
Sistah Toldjah is left incredulous: “It’s not merely ‘missteps’ but rather an insane appetite for insulting the very people from whom he wants to raise money (examples here, here, and here), not to mention his defeatist attitude towards Afghanistan, among other things. What a shame for someone once widely considered by many conservatives — including yours truly — as having the potential to go far within the party via advancing conservative ideals on a national stage.”
At Hot Air, Allahpundit thinks through the implications: “There are only two reasons to conceivably back Steele, as I see it. One: The GOP did, after all, win 63 seats on his watch, and he’s been lying low enough over the last few months that at least it looks like the gaffe-o-rama phase of his chairmanship is finally over. All of which is well and good, but in that case I urge you to follow the link up top and eyeball Cost’s graph again. The question isn’t whether the GOP did well this year, it’s whether it could have done better if the RNC had been flush with cash. Gentry Collins argued that poor fundraising might have cost Republicans an extra two dozen House seats, but given that he’s now challenging Steele for the chairman’s position, take that estimate for what it’s worth. Two: If you believe that, in an age of online donations and targeted giving to campaigns, the RNC will never again be relevant the way it once was, then maybe it’s better to keep Steele in place. It’ll avoid a nasty public squabble between pro-Steele factions, led by Palin, and anti-Steele factions like the ‘Bush establishment,’ and it’ll spare us the spectacle of Steele doing interviews to dump on the GOP after he loses. Plus, if Steele’s reelected, Republican outside groups are bound to start planning way ahead to pick up the slack in case the RNC can’t get its act together to fulfill its traditional fundraising and GOTV roles. No one cares about the RNC as an organization, only that its functions are being done and done well by some conservative outfit. If Steele’s reelected, it means that some other outfit or outfits will be pressured to step up. Inconvenient, but not fatal. I think.”