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Praise for Michael Steele. No, really.

Michael Steele
RNC chairman Michael Steele, speaking to reporters at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2009. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)

Y'all know how much I like smacking around (rhetorically speaking) Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele. He makes it SO easy. That's why when Steele not only does the right thing, but also says the right thing, I feel obligated to give him his props.

Steele's vocal opposition to a proposed suicide pact -- otherwise known as the purity test for GOP candidates -- being considered at the party's annual meeting in Hawaii was a show of real leadership. In order to be considered conservative enough to qualify for the national party's money and support, candidates would have to agree with eight of the 10 questions on the "Reagan Resolution." Well, it's more like be against something. Against same-sex marriage. Against gun control. Against climate change legislation. Against abortion. The proposal is so narrow and restrictive, new Republican It-Boy, Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R-Mass.) wouldn't even make the cut.

But the resolution is now considered to be on life support thanks to Steele's vocal opposition. The Post's Philip Rucker quotes him saying, "Litmus tests don't work. They don't build parties, they don't build relationships, they can be divisive." He added, "This is not the business of the RNC. "Ronald Reagan would be ashamed if the party moved in that direction." The New York Times' Adam Nagourney quotes Steele saying, "I am personally not in favor of litmus tests. It’s not what brought me into the party. It’s not a welcoming or an inviting activity."

While on his book tour earlier this month, Steele taunted congressional Republican Party leaders by telling a radio station, "I'm a Tea Partier, I'm a town haller, I'm a grass-roots-er." What he said in Hawaii is a refreshing change in tone and tune. If the GOP ever hopes to break out of being a regional and reactionary party it must expand its appeal. A litmus test for candidates will ensure that it fails.

By Jonathan Capehart  | January 28, 2010; 11:34 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Comments

Strong on Defense, continued Bush's program to bail out Wall Street, tax cuts for 95%, tax cuts and incentives for small businesses to hire, nuclear power, clean coal, offshore drilling, 3 year freeze on non-Defense spending, pay as you go, no capital gains tax for small business. OMG, Obama's a Conservative.

More stimulus, increases taxes on incomes over $250k, health care, incentives for college students to pay off debt, tax the big banks, fund local banks to give small business loans, cap and trade, clean energy, healthcare. OMG, Obama's a Liberal.

67 minutes were bi-partisan. Yes, Obama's a Moderate.

Only spent 2 minutes chiding the Republicans for fighting 2 unfunded wars and unfunded tax cuts which doubled the National debt in 8 years. The Republicans sunk in their chairs, squirming like embarrassed school boys caught looking up the girls dresses. I thought some might die of shame.

Obama's final words - Stop the partisan bickering. Both parties are responsible to do their job and fix America. Yes, Obama is more statesman than politician.

Time for all to put America first and their petty politics second. Time for the Party of Debt Doesn't Matter to take responsibility for their actions and get to work with the Democrats to fix America. Time for all Conservatives to demand the Party of No join Obama in a bi-partisan fix of America. Alternatively it is time for all true Conservatives, as in debt does matter, to abandon the Republicans.

Posted by: chucky-el | January 28, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Time to ignore the substanceless, smoke and mirrors act meant to prod voters into giving Ocho Pinko the political space to slip his socialist message through behind a facade of bipartisanship. Obama's idea of bipartisanship is both parties signing on to back only what he ideologically likes. Real bipartisanship is compromising and accepting that a bill includes some things the opposition party wants that you ideologically oppose in return for getting said opposition to accept some things you want that they ideologically oppose in the bill as well. I doubt that it would work that way under Ocho Pinko's auspices if 1600 had its way.

Posted by: SCOTSGUARDS | January 28, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

As for Steele's comments, the Republican Party's rank and file are much more accepting of the party's moderates - and by moderate I don't mean somebody all the way to the left who happens to have an R after their name, I mean someone no more than 50-50 conservative to liberal - than the Democrats are of their own moderates such as Evan Bayh, Zell Miller, Joe Lieberman, and others over the years. Every time they slam Republican voices who criticize a Republican moderate for not 100 percent hewing the Republican party voting line, they almost instantly turn and, when a Democratic moderate departs from the Democratic party voting line, hypocritically stick a knife in his back.

Posted by: SCOTSGUARDS | January 28, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Steele is right, the GOP will go nowhere until it broadens its tent. Obama said it well last night when he said that obstructing everything maybe good short term politics, but at some point you have to lead and govern.

Posted by: jjj141 | January 28, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

To say the GOP is a "regional" party is why you are on MSNBC.

You, sir, are intellectually soft.

Posted by: DreamCity4LIFE | January 28, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Time to ignore the substanceless, smoke and mirrors act meant to prod voters into giving Ocho Pinko the political space to slip his socialist message through behind a facade of bipartisanship. Obama's idea of bipartisanship is both parties signing on to back only what he ideologically likes. Real bipartisanship is compromising and accepting that a bill includes some things the opposition party wants that you ideologically oppose in return for getting said opposition to accept some things you want that they ideologically oppose in the bill as well. I doubt that it would work that way under Ocho Pinko's auspices if 1600 had its way
---------------------------------------

First off, its obvious you don't know what socialism even means, because a real socialist would never consider Obama a socialist.

That being said, given the fact that the Senate is 59-41 Dems, shouldn't the Repubs be trying to work with Dems? Or by your reasoning, I guess not.

Posted by: jjj141 | January 28, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

I hope the Republicans do not give up their litmus test. I hope they continue to define themselves to the American people as the narrow radicals they actually are.
They have been in the process of shrinking their crowd under their purity-tent for many years. Now, is no time for them to "run for the hills".

Posted by: cms1 | January 28, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Unbelievable. A Republican who actually gets it: Becoming a far-right party does not win popular support.

Posted by: ravensfan20008 | January 28, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

not a word about transparency!!!
what happened ? i guess that a president shouldnt expect congress to follow the flag, when it doesnt know what the flag stands for.

Posted by: calkid1 | January 28, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

The saddest thing about the State of the Union - a sad state indeed....

To see the block of Republicans shirking their duty to the American people to resolve the various crisis we face, they prefer to sit with arms folded in obstinateness. I guess it is more important to be popular in their Republican "clubhouse" than it is to do the job they were sent there for....serve the American people. Shameful - not one deserves to be called even "sir" - they are deliberately sabotaging any efforts that look promising - just to be sure a Democrat doesn't get any credit for something good. To attempt to hobble the presidency during this crisis - IS NOTHING SHORT OF TREASON.

Posted by: muddy_13 | January 28, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

...really, SCOTSGUARDS? You consider ZELL MILLER, who voted with Bush more than some Republicans, to be "moderate"? And Lieberman, who used to moderate, but has backtracked on any even remotely liberal position he used to hold? In ANY other country, they would be considered right-of-center, especially Miller. Nevermind that Miller spoke at the Republican National Convention, further making your comment look moronic. Do you even pay attention to the furor at Olympia Snowe after she voted for the health care billi in Senate committee? The GOP is far, far less willing to accept variance from the party line.

Comments from conservatives like some here are the exact reasons you failed in 2008. Anyone who labels Obama a "socialist" is obviously oblivious as to what socialism even is.

Posted by: adamsmo | January 28, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

If the GOP had forced Scott Brown to take a litmus test in Massachusetts he never would have been elected. He campaigned as a moderate and an independent, never even mentioning the Republican party.
Nearly 52 percent of the voters, myself included, are unenrolled (independent.) The unenrolled overwhelmingly suppported Brown along with Republicans and some Democrats.
If the Republicans truly want to make a a suicide pact they'll adopt the litmus test. If not, and they want to broaden their pup tent, they should run from the test as fast as they can.

Posted by: pjsilva | January 28, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

hey Jonathan,
saw you on the Mclaughlin Group last week..what a nice surprise..you did good..

Posted by: rmcgolden | January 29, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I'll give kudos to Michael Steele when he publicly opposes what is really pernicious about the purity pledge -- not just its litmus test approach, but the ridiculous rhetoric it contains that opposition to Obama's "socialist" policies is necessary for the very the survival of our country and our way of life. Read the actual document! He should condemn the politics of hysteria that has been borrowed from the extremists in an attempt to placate them and keep them from leaving the party, not just the notion that the pledge would be a problemm for politicians from .... where did he pick? ... Maryland.

Posted by: fmjk | January 29, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

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