Appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America” this week, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said that being African American is a factor in criticism of him and of Barack Obama.
George Stephanopoulos had asked Steele whether his race gave him a “slimmer margin for error.”
“The honest answer is yes,” said Steele. “It just is. Barack Obama has a slimmer margin. We all—a lot of folks do. It’s a different role for me to play and others to play, and that’s just the reality of it.”
In suggesting that racism is behind the problems he has gotten himself into, Steele slapped his own party in the face. At the same time, by suggesting that race is also a factor in criticism of Obama, Steele sided with the left wing of the Democratic Party, which sees disagreement with Obama’s policies as evidence of racism.
If ever there were a reason to oust a party chairman, this was it. The job of RNC chairman is to be a cheerleader for the party, not a detractor. Yet Steele’s comments are only the latest in a series of bizarre remarks that undercut his party.
In January, Steele told Sean Hannity of Fox News that the GOP cannot win back a majority in the House in 2010.
When Hannity expressed surprise at Steele's comment that Republicans wouldn't be able to take back the House, Steele allowed that “I don’t know yet” whether Republicans could win a majority because candidates still are being lined up.
“But then,” Steele said, “the question we need to ask ourselves is, if we do that, are we ready?”
Hannity asked Steele what his answer is. “I don’t know,” Steele said.
The episode followed others in which Steele seemed to go out of his way to thumb his nose at fellow Republicans. Responding to a comment by TV One’s Roland Martin that “white Republicans have been scared of black folks,” Steele replied, “You’re absolutely right.”
The first African-American RNC chairman, Steele continued, “I’ve been in the room, and they’ve been scared of me. I’m like, I’m on your side.”
Steele’s comments are combative, self-centered, and derogatory about his own party. Meanwhile, his fund-raising record has been mediocre, and now major donors are deserting the RNC in droves.
While he was not aware of an RNC expenditure of nearly $2,000 for a bondage-themed strip club in West Hollywood, Calif., upon taking office, Steele fired most of the experienced RNC staff and brought in his open people. They were the ones who approved the expenditure.
Still, no Republican or conservative leaders are yet willing to call for Steele’s ouster.
“It’s a train wreck, Ron, but I’m not doing anything on the record on it,” says one Republican leader.
Given Steele’s self-destructive tendencies, he will likely continue to poke his finger in the eyes of his fellow Republicans. The question is how long they will put up with it.
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