This didn’t take long. An RNC member called for Michael Steele to resign as chairman of the party after a series of strange gaffes in the media left him floundering for footing, and after reports of chaos within the GOP’s leadership. The call comes from Dr. Ada Fisher, an African-American herself and the head of the North Carolina party, who called Steele’s performance inept:
Michael Steele should resign as Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman, according to a committee member from North Carolina.
In an e-mail to fellow RNC members obtained by The Hill, Dr. Ada Fisher, North Carolina’s national committeewoman, said Steele is “eroding confidence” in the GOP and that members of his transition team should encourage him to step aside. Fisher added Steele’s personal e-mail address to the e-mail.
“I don’t want to hear anymore [sic] language trying to be cool about the bling in the stimulus package or appealing to D.L. Hughley and blacks in a way that isn’t going to win us any votes and makes us frankly appear to many blacks as quite foolish,” Fisher wrote.
Fisher, who is one of three black members of the national committee, backed South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson, whom Steele edged out in the final round of voting to win the chairmanship in late January. She has voiced repeated opposition to Steele, sending dozens of e-mails to committee members even after Steele won election slamming him for any number of chips that have fallen awry.
Fisher may have an axe to grind, but her response may indicate a rising level of buyers remorse at the RNC. The Hill doesn’t mention the one incident that will be sure to have angered the committee, Steele’s lack of rebuttal when Hughley characterized the 2008 Republican Convention as looking like a Nazi rally. Since the RNC staged that event and participants came from the state organizations represented at the RNC — including Fisher herself — the lack of response on that may wind up being more troubling than the Rush Limbaugh contretemps, which has apparently already been smoothed over.
It’s too early to dump Steele, although his performance on the Hughley show was particularly bad. Pushing him out after less than four weeks is a little unfair. He deserves more of a chance to atone for his mistakes and correct his errors.
But I would also say that the time for atonement and correction may well be closing. Instead of focusing on being a pundit in the immediate term, Steele should be replacing all of the people he fired when he won election as chair. In fact, that should have been his first priority, as the party needs to start working now to build momentum for the midterm elections in 2010.