Quote of the day

“‘I’m a fan of Steele’s,’ Gingrich said on Thursday in a meeting with reporters about healthcare reform. ‘I think he is learning, he is smart and he will be an important part of where we’re going.’…

“Gingrich said the party should ‘relax and focus on winning elections and not on inside-the-party cannibalism.’

“‘Michael Steele makes a number of old-time Republicans very nervous,’ Gingrich said. ‘He comes out of a different background. He went to seminary … he’s African-American … But I think he’s pretty close to what we need. He’s different, he’s gutsy and he’s going to make a number of Republicans mad.'”

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“‘Does he not get it?’ asked Larry Farnsworth, one-time press secretary to former House Speaker Dennis Hastert. ‘To write a book like that and not consult with the rest of the party leaders is maddening. It’s the most selfish thing I’ve seen a politician do since a certain senator tapped his foot under the bathroom stall. Michael Steele is clearly using the RNC platform to promote Michael Steele.’

“The overwhelming concern is that Steele has become a rogue agent — convinced that his playbook for a Republican revival is the right one, while simultaneously refusing to show anyone else the plays.”…

“‘[Y]ou have to walk a very fine line with regard to all communication and it’s a difficult balancing act,’ one well-connected a Republican political consultant summarized. ‘On one hand, if you stick to saying what’s safe, relying on poll-tested and focus group-approved talking points, you’re going to come off as boring, predictable, canned, inauthentic or worse… On the other, if you say what you think, offer up ‘straight talk,’ or communicate in a way that is tougher to tag as predictable, bland or generic, everyone says you’re going off-message, out of control, or you’re just plain crazy… Politics is full of people who say you ought to do this, you ought to do that. Steele might deserve a little bit of a break here.'”

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“‘Fool?’ I asked. ‘Buffoon?’

“‘You name it,’ he said.

“This fellow looked like one of those cartoon characters with steam coming out of his ears. ‘He’s going to destroy the party.’ So what do you do? I asked. ‘He’s got to go,’ the consultant said, adding that Steele could face a no-confidence vote at an upcoming national Republican meeting…

“The chief of the GOP has two challenges: to pull in big bucks and to maintain the peace within his party. Steele appears to have been too busy goofing on cable TV to do either. As I’ve noted previously, this election year offers Republicans a grand opportunity, particularly because unemployment is expected to remain high for months, if not years, to come. But a party burdened with a leader who alienates donors will not be best positioned to exploit that advantage. It’s hard to imagine Steele getting his act together and functioning as an effective party chairman in the tough slog ahead. Though there might be a cost if Republicans send him packing now, the cost will be greater if Steele is forced out later rather than sooner.”