Monday, November 15, 2010

DeMint Wants Steele Out As RNC Chair

Appearing on Fox News Sunday today, an appallingly smug Sen. Jim DeMint was asked if he thinks a second term for RNC chair Michael Steele would be “good or bad for the party.” DeMint,   once again unwilling to admit his own role in limiting Republican Senate gains, answered:
“I want to look at the choices.  Frankly, I think where we lost a few senate seats, our ground game was not as strong as it could have been.  We were actually outmanned on the ground.  And going into 2012 we need a really strong leader for the Republican Party to match the get-out-the-vote we saw from the Obama machine last time.  And so I appreciate Michael Steele’s service, but I'm looking for some alternatives right now.”

This is just outrageous blame-shifting on DeMint’s part.  Steele oversaw the best Republican showing in more than 70 years, and while Steele’s portion of the credit for those wins is up for debate, he certainly didn’t go out of his way to endorse an unelectable half-wit in Delaware and blow an easy Senate race.  DeMint has shown exactly zero remorse on that score since election day.  His line is that Christine O’Donnell was torpedoed by intra-party criticism after her primary win, a claim equally as preposterous as the argument fed to, and parroted by, Sarah Palin on election night (Palin insists Mike Castle would also have lost to Chris Coons despite every pre-GOP primary poll showing Castle ahead of Coons by 20). 

In that Fox interview, DeMint, in the context of his proposed earmark ban, also went out of his way to dismiss reports of a feud between himself and Mitch McConnell -- “Mitch is a good friend.”  Has McConnell forgiven DeMint for Delaware?  Do they have a deal to forget about DeMint’s O’Donnell’s endorsement so long as DeMint pledges to use better judgment in the future?  Who knows.

But it’s clear that DeMint intends to help push Steele out the door after the Republicans’ triumph.  That’s going to look great.  Who will replace Steele?  DeMint’s fellow South Carolinian, Katon Dawson, who lost to Steele last time around, is interested in running again.  Remember him?  He belonged to a WHITES ONLY COUNTRY CLUB.  Replacing Steele with Dawson would sure work wonders for GOP outreach in the northeast.

Steele’s prominence showed independent voters that the GOP is more than the  Southern Strategy, and his “gaffes” drew attention to the fact that the party is led by someone other than a bloated good ‘ole boy with a comb-over.  On top of the positive optics, Robert Schlesinger, in US News, makes the case that Steele’s “Fire Pelosi” bus tour served to boost enthusiasm for GOP candidates across the country:

“Give credit where it’s due.  The RNC’s ‘Fire Pelosi’ campaign got underappreciated traction in the general election. …  When they hung a ‘Fire Pelosi’ sign outside the RNC, they got flak from some House GOPers -- too much invective, especially directed against a woman.  But when Steele unveiled his ‘Fire Pelosi’ bus tour at the RNC’s summer session, it got uproarious applause.  He covered 13,000 miles in the lower 48 states, rallying with some 230 candidates.  And it came in well under budget, I’m told.”

Steele might not have been the most eloquent spokesman for Republicans, and he might have  badly undersold the potential appeal of conservatism to African-Americans, but the GOP could do with a lot more of his type of good natured awkwardness, and a lot less of Jim DeMint spouting off on how unmarried women and gays are unfit to serve as primary school teachers.

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