Michael Steele is in, but does it matter?
Current Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele confounded conventional wisdom and announced he would run for another term. Politics watchers should keep in mind several things.
First, the notion that this will promote in-fighting and make life tough for the Republicans is rather silly. If Steele's gaffe-a-thon over the past two years didn't damage the party's prospects, a couple of weeks during which Republicans uniformly voice disgust with his tenure sure won't make a difference. Politico reports: "After Fox News broke the news Monday afternoon that Steele was running, Democrats were gleeful that, for a few weeks at least, the controversial chairman would remain in the fray." I suppose Steele campaigning during the holiday season (when only true political junkies are paying attention) is all that Democrats can crow about these days.
Second, Steele is a non-factor in the race. His own former general counsel is running to replace him. I've yet to find a single elected official, pundit, or committee member who supports him or is even willing to defend his tenure -- which was distinguished by gaffes, scandals and debt. Steele isn't going to be the next chairman. Period.
And finally, this is another instance in which, as the Hollywood writer William Goldman put it, no one knows anything. The entire chattering class was convinced Steele would pack it in. After all, why would he possibly run? Logic, however, was not the determining factor. Steele's ego and political tone deafness have been his defining qualities. What a cogent political figure would do and what Steele would do are two entirely separate matters. In fact, no one pontificating about Steele had any actual knowledge of the decision, because Steele keeps his own counsel. It's an important reminder that political conventional wisdom is often very wrong.
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