Maybe Not The Best Man For The Job

The possibility of Michael Steele leading the RNC has much to recommend it. Those of us who supported Mr. Steele like and admire him, not because he’s “clean and articulate” but because he is a man of courage and the epitome of grace under fire. Mr. Steele deserves a prominent place in the national GOP. I’m just not sure that the head of the RNC, at this time, is that place.

There is a war in the GOP brewing over what to do now that we’ve lost in two election cycles. One side, mine, says we sacrificed our competitive advantage when our elected officials became more concerned with aggrandizement of power than with principle. The other, probably best epitomized by David Brooks in Tuesday’s New York Times. Broadly read, Mr. Brooks advocates remaking the GOP as sort of Democrats-Lite. Quite honestly, I don’t think 2006 or 2008 told us much more than going to the polls with an unpopular president while in the midst of an unpopular war or financial crisis is not a good evolutionary strategy for a political party. In fact, the election results of last Tuesday don’t indicate that conservative (or as Mr. Brooks would have it, Traditionalist) issues are an electoral loser. Prop 8, for instance, won in California despite California going easily to Obama.

Whoever leads the RNC will be at Ground Zero of this struggle. In that regards, Mr. Steele’s potential election to the RNC gives me pause.

He is a founding member, along with John Danforth and Christine Todd Whitman, of the Republican Leadership Council. Those two names alone tells the average conservative just about anything they need to know about the group but a look at its “Partners” is even more troubling. Planned Parenthood Republicans for Choice. Republicans for Choice. Republican Majority for Choice. Log Cabin Republicans. Republican Main Street Partnership. While no one is advocating purging these groups, I think even these groups would admit that they exist because they represent viewpoints which are outside the mainstream of the GOP as expressed by our national platform.

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Mr. Steele’s stated opinions place him comfortably in that part of the party occupied by Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, and his co-founders of the RLC.

While we and the Dems need a coalition to win, in the final analysis we must stand for something. For the GOP, we must spend some period of time defining what that something is. In my view, to quote Jim Hightower, there is nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos. Mr. Steele is probably the most conservative candidate we could reasonably run on the Atlantic seaboard from Maryland north and we need to recruit more like him to run for office. But, in my view, Mr. Steele is not the man we need at the helm of the RNC during the next two years.

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