Alternate headline: “Confirmed: God is a Democrat.” So public has his feud with Republican congressional staffers become that, believe it or not, I had a choice of three different soundbites from the past 24 hours to lead with here. There’s the God one, his comment to Dennis Miller this morning that he didn’t so much seek the RNC chairmanship as he had it thrust upon him by a historical moment, and his angry invite to GOP backbiters yesterday on KTRS radio to either shut up and get in the game or force him out already. Which, given the reports of a mysterious huddle this morning at RNC headquarters and word that Steele rival Katon Dawson will be a surprise attendee at the winter meeting in Hawaii, may well be the plan. If he is pushed out, I assume the pretext will be that no one knew he was planning a side project as time-sucking and self-promotional as a book launch; I don’t believe that for a minute, but I guess it beats dredging up his many, many gaffes.
I sympathize with the guy to some extent. I think he means well, especially in trying to coopt tea partiers (listen to the KTRS clip and you’ll hear him describe himself as one of them), and the pile-on over his dopey rhetorical mistakes is causing him to lose the benefit of the doubt he’d otherwise get for comments like the one below, which would pass unremarked upon by the right had it come from the mouth of a more ostentatiously religious pol. But he simply must get out of the news. To be sucking up media oxygen in a week when Byron Dorgan and Chris Dodd quit and the White House was in full mea culpa mode over the dropped ball on Abdulmutallab is idiotic, and to have it involve infighting with other Republicans is inexcusable. As Frum’s site notes, while demanding that the party settle its differences with him behind closed doors, Steele himself has been only too happy to dump publicly on people like Bush 41 and 43 to prove his own conservative bona fides. Even Meggie Mac is demanding some leadership from him. Exit question one: Can he turn it around? If they’re going to push him out, the sooner the better so that they can get past the storyline before the midterms heat up. Exit question two: Another alternate headline — “Atheists proved right”?
Update: Steele told Laura Ingraham this morning that he wrote the book before becoming chairman. Hmmm:
When we here at TPM heard that Michael Steele had a new book, we immediately bought a copy and I proceeded to read the whole thing cover to cover. Unless Steele is remarkably clairvoyant, it seems as though it could not have been written before he became chairman — it is overwhelmingly a commentary on the political situation in America under President Barack Obama, as of late 2009…
A few stray parts of the book may have predated Steele’s chairmanship, and been incorporated into the overall narrative. A speech he gave on February 2, 2008, is included at the end as an appendix, as is Ronald Reagan’s “A Time For Choosing” speech from 1964. There is Steele’s discussion of the values he learned from his working-class mother, a theme that has run through his whole political career. There is his take on how the Republicans failed to live up to their small-government principles and lost the confidence of the electorate in 2008.
But even those are mixed in with current events.
The narrative here, presumably, is that he hasn’t been devoting enough time to his duties as chairman, but for all the criticism of Steele over the past year, that’s not a line of attack I’ve heard much. Look at it this way: If you gave him back all the time he used to write the book, he’d probably use a big chunk of it to, er, give interviews. Write more books, chairman!