Now I gotta tell ya...I'm not a Republican and I am certainly no Limbaugh fan, so all of the current machinations taking place are just pleasing the hell out of me. First there is Micaheal Steele...
TO ORIGINAL SOURCE
March 8, 2009
New Chairman Boos G.O.P. When He’s Not Cheerleading
By JODI KANTOR
None of the guests seemed to be complaining, yet Michael Steele stood at a Fifth Avenue fund-raiser in New York on Wednesday evening and defended his month-old tenure as chairman of the Republican National Committee. His glasses had been askew since he pleaded his case on television that morning, and now he threw up his arms in admission.
Yes, some of his problems in the job were “self-inflicted,” he said, “but I do things to get a reaction.”
There is no wondering which things he meant. Since taking office, Mr. Steele has joyfully gone to war with his own party, often live on television.
Most chairmen wave the party flag; Mr. Steele smiles and shreds it. A man of constantly colliding analogies, he compares Republicans to drunks in need of a 12-step program and to the mentally ill. He has insulted Rush Limbaugh and moderate Republican senators alike, and he has promised a “hip-hop makeover” that would attract even “one-armed midgets” to his party.
Mr. Steele is the party’s first African-American chairman, his election a response to a history-making Democratic president. But now his performance is raising questions: Does he have a strategy, or is he simply saying whatever comes to mind? Republican moderates have staked hopes of reform on him, betting that his race and frank style will foster a new image of the party, but is this what they expected?
“I’m trying to move an elephant that’s become mired in its own muck,” Mr. Steele said in an interview last week in his sunlit Capitol Hill office, pausing whenever he appeared on the giant television close by his desk.
“You can say, ‘He’s crazy, he’s running off at the mouth,’ ” he said. “Or you can say, ‘It kind of makes sense, and I get it.’ ”
Since he became chairman, Mr. Steele, 50, has shown some of the same impulses that have governed and sometimes sabotaged him from an early age. He has at times rejected his own environment — becoming a Republican when everyone he knew was a Democrat, leaving jobs after short stints and attacking those who helped make him successful.
He has often been a victim of his own impetuousness. He worked his way through law school at night and won a job at a top firm, but he failed the Maryland bar exam because, he says, he took it on a whim. He is a born actor, a high-school musical ham whose instinct to perform can undermine his credibility (in the interview, he said he would accept Stephen Colbert’s recent challenge of a hip-hop duel).
Even those who applaud Mr. Steele’s vision of a more inclusive Republican Party wonder if he can execute it. “Does he have the mettle to wage that type of fight?” asked Benjamin T. Jealous, the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Mr. Steele says that he does, but that he is entirely willing to risk failure. “I always found it interesting that people would cast aspersions on failure, as if it were a bad thing,” he said.
For decades, top Republican officials have looked at Mr. Steele and seen the promise of minority votes. He was recruited in the 1980s by Lee Atwater, a strategist who was the first of many excited by the charismatic, black Roman Catholic.
Outside politics, Mr. Steele struggled. He tried the priesthood but left as a novice. Later he practiced law for seven years in Washington (after passing the Pennsylvania state bar, he said), then started a consulting firm that made so little money that he almost lost his home.
But in the weak Maryland Republican Party, in a state that is 30 percent black, Mr. Steele was an instant hero. (The moment she saw him, said Joyce Terhes, the former state party chairwoman, she knew he was a keeper.) He zoomed from volunteer to state chairman to running mate in a race for governor.
Before the 2002 election, The Baltimore Sun published an editorial saying that because of his lack of experience, Mr. Steele brought “little to the team but the color of his skin,” outraging him and his supporters.
When Mr. Steele became lieutenant governor, he found himself among the highest-ranking black Republicans in the country, instantly embraced by President George W. Bush and his allies. Speaking to black groups, he was often the only Republican in the room, and in some Republican gatherings, the only African-American.
More than other black Republicans, “he has this unique capacity to connect with black audiences in a pretty soulful way,” said the talk show host Tavis Smiley. When Mr. Steele ran for the Senate in 2006, Russell Simmons, the hip-hop music executive and a Democrat, went to Maryland to endorse him.
Running in an unpopular year and state for Republicans, Mr. Steele tried to shed ties to his party. He called the “R” in Republican a “scarlet letter” and omitted his affiliation from advertisements: instead he talked about his love for puppies, his mother and the music of Frank Sinatra. On Election Day, campaign workers passed out sample ballots that listed him as a Democrat.
Still, Mr. Steele lost by almost 10 points, attracting only a quarter of the black vote. (He is still dogged by finance questions, like a $40,000 payment to a defunct company owned by his sister. He has said the payment was legitimate and that he is cooperating with a federal investigation.)
But among Republicans watching the rise of Barack Obama, Mr. Steele seemed more popular than ever. In early 2007, when Mr. Steele walked into a conservative forum on minority outreach, “you would have thought that he’d won,” said Doug Heye, his former spokesman.
Two years later, Mr. Steele ran for party spokesman as much as party chairman. He promised to bring wholesale reform and to present a new face of the party: black, engaging and funny.
He was something of a celebrity candidate — a paid Fox News contributor endorsed by Sean Hannity who served as a surrogate for Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign and originated the “Drill, baby, drill” chant that rang through Republican rallies.
His prospects improved further when two white candidates ran into race-related problems — one distributed a song calling Mr. Obama a “magic negro,” another had been a member of an all-white country club — and stoked Republicans’ fears about appearing narrow-minded.
Still, Mr. Steele won the post only on a sixth ballot.
“We have an image problem,” said Saul Anuzis, one of the losing candidates, “and that’s why people see a glimmer of opportunity with Michael Steele, not only because of his color.”
“He exudes enthusiasm,” Mr. Anuzis said. “That almost cavalier approach may turn some people off,” but during Mr. Steele’s recent television appearances, “I think a lot of the country was nodding their head saying, ‘Exactly.’ ”
The tactics that served Mr. Steele in his rise — calling out his party, using slang to connect with voters — may, however, hurt him as chairman. He has quickly become a target of late-night talk show hosts. And last week, after calling Mr. Limbaugh’s radio show “incendiary” and “ugly,” he provoked heckling not only from him but also from gleeful Democrats. (Mr. Steele apologized, delighting Democrats further.)
Even Mr. Steele’s pledge to recruit black voters is in question. Raynard Jackson, a Republican consultant, said that he and fellow African-Americans are glad about Mr. Steele’s election but uneasy about its timing. It looks too much like “let’s get a black person out there and let him attack the first black president,” Mr. Jackson said.
Last week, Ada Fisher, one of a handful of black Republican National Committee members and a persistent critic of Mr. Steele’s, called on him to resign, arguing in an e-mail message to the entire committee that he “makes us frankly appear to many blacks as quite foolish.”
But barring a mass revolt by members, which so far seems unlikely, Mr. Steele — who has never managed a large organization or won a race for public office on his own — has a two-year term in which to build a new operation, raise hundreds of millions of dollars and win enough races to reverse the Democratic tide.
About 70 staff members have already resigned or been fired, said Curt Anderson, a consultant Mr. Steele hired to assist him, while transition teams figure out how to restructure virtually every aspect of operations.
And as tempestuous as the past month has been, Mr. Steele said in the interview, Republicans should get ready for more. “I’m very spontaneous,” he said, comparing working with him to riding a roller coaster without knowing when the next dip or curve might come.
“Be prepared; you have no idea,” he said. “Just buckle up and get ready to go.”
Next you have the antics of Rush Limbaugh...
TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE
It wasn't a fight I went looking for. On March 3, the popular radio host Mark Levin opened his show with an outburst (he always opens his show with an outburst): "There are people who have somehow claimed the conservative mantle … You don't even know who they are … They're so irrelevant … It's time to name names …! The Canadian David Frum: where did this a-hole come from? … In the foxhole with other conservatives, you know what this jerk does? He keeps shooting us in the back … Hey, Frum: you're a putz."
Now, of course, Mark Levin knows perfectly well where I come from. We've known each other for years, had dinner together. I'm a conservative Republican, have been all my adult life. I volunteered for the Reagan campaign in 1980. I've attended every Republican convention since 1988. I was president of the Federalist Society chapter at my law school, worked on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal and wrote speeches for President Bush—not the "Read My Lips" Bush, the "Axis of Evil" Bush. I served on the Giuliani campaign in 2008 and voted for John McCain in November. I supported the Iraq War and (although I feel kind of silly about it in retrospect) the impeachment of Bill Clinton. I could go on, but you get the idea.
Reinventing the GOP
Republicans face a daunting challenge in re-making and re-marketing their party. Who will shape that effort? Newsweek spoke to four leading Republicans:
Newt Gingrich: It's Not About The Base
Eric Cantor: It’s All About Jobs
Mark Sanford: Build From The Local Level
Paul Ryan: Let The Idea People Lead
I mention all this not because I expect you to be fascinated with my life story, but to establish some bona fides. In the conservative world, we have a tendency to dismiss unwelcome realities. When one of us looks up and murmurs, "Hey, guys, there seems to be an avalanche heading our way," the others tend to shrug and say, he's a "squish" or a RINO—Republican in Name Only.
Levin had been provoked by a blog entry I'd posted the day before on my site, NewMajority.com. Here's what I wrote: President Obama and Rush Limbaugh do not agree on much, but they share at least one thing: Both wish to see Rush anointed as the leader of the Republican party.
Here's Rahm Emanuel on Face the Nation yesterday: "the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican party." What a great endorsement for Rush! … But what about the rest of the party? Here's the duel that Obama and Limbaugh are jointly arranging:
On the one side, the president of the United States: soft-spoken and conciliatory, never angry, always invoking the recession and its victims. This president invokes the language of "responsibility," and in his own life seems to epitomize that ideal: He is physically honed and disciplined, his worst vice an occasional cigarette. He is at the same time an apparently devoted husband and father. Unsurprisingly, women voters trust and admire him.
And for the leader of the Republicans? A man who is aggressive and bombastic, cutting and sarcastic, who dismisses the concerned citizens in network news focus groups as "losers." With his private plane and his cigars, his history of drug dependency and his personal bulk, not to mention his tangled marital history, Rush is a walking stereotype of self-indulgence—exactly the image that Barack Obama most wants to affix to our philosophy and our party. And we're cooperating! Those images of crowds of CPACers cheering Rush's every rancorous word—we'll be seeing them rebroadcast for a long time.
Rush knows what he is doing. The worse conservatives do, the more important Rush becomes as leader of the ardent remnant. The better conservatives succeed, the more we become a broad national governing coalition, the more Rush will be sidelined.
But do the rest of us understand what we are doing to ourselves by accepting this leadership? Rush is to the Republicanism of the 2000s what Jesse Jackson was to the Democratic party in the 1980s. He plays an important role in our coalition, and of course he and his supporters have to be treated with respect. But he cannot be allowed to be the public face of the enterprise—and we have to find ways of assuring the public that he is just one Republican voice among many, and very far from the most important.
Can anyone say "Implode!" I'm just cracking up.