Michael Steele: serial failure
By Lee Hockstader
Amid the gushing torrent of Michael Steele’s loopy remarks, bumbling mismanagement and unstinting bad judgment, an essential fact has been lost: His very appointment as head of the RNC was an act of supreme cynicism.
Let’s remember what Michael Steele has achieved before his elevation to the GOP chairmanship. The short answer? Nothing.
The man was a failure as a candidate for comptroller in Maryland; a failure as a consultant in private practice; a failure as Maryland’s lieutenant governor; and a failure as a candidate for the U.S. Senate.
As a candidate for state comptroller in 1998, he finished third in a GOP primary.
As a consultant in private practice, he attracted no business, went broke and couldn’t afford health insurance.
As lieutenant governor, he was regarded with open contempt by his fellow Republicans in the administration of the man who selected him as a running-mate, then-Gov. Bob Ehrlich. The one substantive assignment he was given--to produce a study on the state’s death penalty--was such a dud that Ehrlich’s office declined to release it.
And then there was the travesty of Steele’s Senate candidacy, in which he proved himself incapable of discussing policy at any level, made the ringing declaration that the election was “not about the issues,” and got stomped by Ben Cardin.
And this is the man the GOP then anointed as its national figurehead? Based on what?
You might say race, as have many other commentators, seeing Steele as the GOP’s cynical answer to Barack Obama’s victory. But Steele is also the embodiment of a particular style of American politics, particularly Republican politics, that substitutes good looks, nice suits, and back-slapping bonhomie for substance. Dan Quayle fit that mold and so did Sarah Palin in her original incarnation, before she became a brand by tapping into America’s deep dark well of paranoia and anti-establishment rage.
Now Republicans are in a funk that their figurehead is a loose cannon, a lightweight and a liability. But with Steele, when was it ever otherwise? The GOP got what it signed up for. Maybe when it comes time to pick Steele’s successor, the Republicans will actually do some vetting.
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