Actually, he says Steele’s working on a statement of “first principles” which might serve as the seed for a new Contract-type platform. Which is super, except that the GOP’s whole problem right now is that conservatives don’t believe them anymore. They have no credibility with the base, which is why (a) Republican party ID is on life support even as “conservative” self-identification is ticking upwards, (b) CPAC’s handing its keynote slot to the main challenger of the NRSC’s favored candidate, and (c) grassroots conservatives are flocking to self-styled “outsiders” like Palin, Doug Hoffman, and Glenn Beck, who’s got plenty of “first principles” ideas of his own to offer them. Under normal circumstances, a site like Red State should be a reliable advocate for the party. Instead, it spent the last few weeks targeting the Republican nominee in NY-23 and today is calling for firings at the RNC over the revelation that there’s an abortion elective in the group’s health insurance plan. Steele himself is nearing the point of toxicity. Not good. So why should we think anyone’s particularly going to care about a statement of first principles? If there’s a GOP wave next year, it’ll be pure disgust at Democratic statism that drives it, not any renewed confidence that the Republicans have embraced their inner libertarians.

Also, how did Gingrich, of all people, end up being the one to break this news? Just today, there’s a new story about him warning the base how “destructive” it’ll be if they go around targeting Republicans with third-party challenges. As I’ve said all along, his point is very well taken, but after the Scozzafava debacle he’s the last guy who should be acting as a liaison to grassroots right-wingers.