…by Meg White
The place Meg puts the stuff she wrote
Leadership Fail: The Slow Political Death of Michael Steele and What That Means for the GOP in 2010 and 2012
Categories: Commentary, Politics

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

There’s no doubt that the Republican Party is in transition right now. As it seeks and then subsequently rejects each newly-anointed leader (Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, et. al.), one wonders if the GOP isn’t being run by the people at the always-entertaining online publication known as Fail Blog, which specializes exclusively in pointing failout when people screw up.

In his column Sunday, Paul Krugman said the recent silliness linking Chicago’s failed Olympic bid to Obama to the fact that the “modern conservative movement, which dominates the modern Republican Party, has the emotional maturity of a bratty 13-year-old”:

How did one of our great political parties become so ruthless, so willing to embrace scorched-earth tactics even if so doing undermines the ability of any future administration to govern?

The key point is that ever since the Reagan years, the Republican Party has been dominated by radicals — ideologues and/or apparatchiks who, at a fundamental level, do not accept anyone else’s right to govern.

That obstructionist policy might actually work as a party platform in 2010 if it weren’t for one thing: The GOP doesn’t even accept the right of its own “ideologues and/or apparatchiks” to govern, not having been able to settle on a party leader over the past year. One casualty of such a policy is the very guy who’s supposed to be running the show. Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele has been dying a slow death, as the GOP sucks the life out of him and makes him the fall guy for their meandering foibles.

Their most recent policy disaster, the idea that the only way to defeat “Obamacare” was to say that they’re doing it in order to save Medicare, came repackaged in Steele wrapping paper and under the headline of a “Seniors Health Care Bill of Rights.” But the hypocrisy peddled by Steele was no different than what Republicans had been playing around with all summer long. When I wrote about Steele’s shtick last month, I was under the impression that party leaders had a role in it, or at least knew of the roll-out.

Apparently I was dead wrong. Party leaders are now insisting that Steele went rogue and introduced the half-baked plan to the nation without anyone having any clue what his minute-long Web ad might way.

The Politico piece that exposed this supposed rift Monday was particularly interesting as a venting vehicle for both sides of this argument. Republican congressional leaders seemed embarrassed by the flop of a plan as outlined by Steele and sought to cut ties with it. But anonymous Steele backers were quoted by Politico saying that the leadership did in fact know about the plan, suggesting to me that this was more of a political hit job in retaliation for a PR flop (emphasis mine):

“Closed-door meetings are closed-door meetings” is all party communications director Trevor Francis would say. But Steele allies say that the bill of rights was crafted in consultation with the GOP’s House and Senate leaders

At the same time, Steele and his backers can be annoyed at what they see as the know-it-all arrogance and even jealousy of some in their party’s congressional wing.

“I would defy anyone that it wasn’t politically smart” to issue the bill of rights, said a Steele ally, arguing that it painted Democrats as hypocrites for wanting to cut Medicare after they’ve spent years accusing Republicans of wanting to do the same.

The article was couched in tentative hints about the source of the conflict, including this bizarre quote from an anonymous source suggesting some unnamed something about Steele making certain old-school conservatives uncomfortable (emphasis mine):

And, this Steele associate said, there is some lingering resistance among the party’s congressional leaders and their top aides to fully embrace Steele as chairman.

“There’s a lot less of that than [there] used to be, but there’s still a little of that,” the source said.

I wonder what “that” could be? Of course, it certainly has nothing to do with him being a black man who Politico says in the same meeting “said that his upbringing in the ‘streets’ made him a fighter and that he was determined to continue fighting and aggressively defending the party.”

Whether or not the GOP is still having trouble getting some of its members to be comfortable with African-Americans at the top echelons of the party, they’re clearly interested in dispelling that as a myth. One example of that is a press release put out today by the 2012 Draft Sarah Committee announcing their newly-appointed spokesman Adrienne Ross.

One fourth of the press release, which did not mention any communications experience on the part of Ross, was instead dedicated to showing the movement’s commitment to diversity:

In addition to being Media Director for the committee, Adrienne is also the committee’s New York State Organizer and a member of the National Black Republican Association. Being an African-American conservative affords her a unique perspective in today’s polarizing National politics.

Reading through her blog, it’s clear that Ross was chosen for her passion rather than her skill with words. She describes herself as “a born-again Christian who is madly in love with Jesus, an English teacher, and an avid Sarah Palin supporter. I believe she’s been called to the forefront ‘for such a time as this.’ Yes, it’s time for people of integrity to stand up, speak up, and make a difference. My sole motivation? The TRUTH!”

I’ll leave you to ponder whether Ross is an avid Sarah Palin supporter or if she’s just madly in love with one. Moving on, I wonder — if it’s not the RNC Chair — who does represent the Republican Party?

According to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), not Glenn Beck. Following up on his slam last week when he basically mocked Beck for making a fortune playing on peoples’ emotions, Graham said this about the controversial talk show host on Fox News Sunday:

What I am saying, he doesn’t represent the Republican Party. You can listen to him if you like. I choose not to because, quite frankly, I don’t — I don’t want to go down the road of thinking our best days are behind us.

Wait, weren’t Republicans having the same argument about Rush Limbaugh half a year ago?

Perhaps the leader of the GOP is Floyd Brown, the GOP operative who brought you Willie Horton, Whitewater and the Vince Foster murder mystery. He’s back with a whole new set of lies: a list of impeachable offenses supposedly committed by President Obama.

In a long, rambling appeal to get signatures for his Impeach Obama petition, Brown says listing his accomplishments and reveling in the fact that George Stephanopoulos called him “a slimy thug for hire” is “not to blow my horn but rather to let you know that when it comes to this movement to impeach Barack Hussein Obama… we’re deadly serious… we’re dedicated… we’re in it for the long haul… we’re willing to do what it takes to get the job done… and we have the battle-scars to prove it.”

(Note: the ellipses randomly placed in the above quote are original, perhaps for dramatic effect? Either way, I didn’t edit anything out of the original text.)

So we’re supposed to believe that having a guy who promotes himself as “an old right-wing attack dog [who] has returned with a new target” lends credibility to the impeach Obama movement? Oh, and in case you were wondering, Obama’s impeachable offenses include being born in Kenya and an “unabated malevolence toward this country, which is unabated.”

Ultimately, the decision that must be made by whomever is actually running the GOP, is whether or not to pursue alternate policies, or just continue blindly blocking anything that comes out of the White House.

You’ve probably seen the brilliant speech by Rep. Alan Grayson, in which he outlines the GOP healthcare plan for Americans to not get sick, or if they do, to die quickly. The part that many people missed in his floor speech was how Grayson revealed the complete lack of a plan on the part of the Republicans, as revealed when the president addressed a joint session of Congress on healthcare reform (emphasis mine):

I saw my colleagues on the far side of the aisle, the Republicans, waving pieces of paper during his speech. And I was wondering what they were. I couldn’t imagine — it almost seemed like they wanted President Obama’s autograph. I just didn’t get it. I heard from one of my colleagues that this is what they called the Republican healthcare plan; I went over after the speech was over, I picked up a copy that was lying down on the Republican side and it turns out that the Republican healthcare plan was a blank piece of paper.

So throughout Obama’s healthcare speech that evening, Republicans were basically waving their white flags of surrender, signaling their acquiescence to a culture of constant failure. Louisiana governor and sometimes Republican presidential candidate for 2012 Bobby Jindal seems to have taken Grayson’s criticism to heart, saying congressional conservatives need to offer their own plan to reform healthcare. Good thought, but this late in the game, that’s unlikely to both happen as well as to make a difference.

Foreign policy, an election-year favorite for Republican hawks, is not likely to be a good talking point, either, according to this conservative strategist. Indeed, it would look a little odd if the “support the war to show you support the troops” party began praying for failure in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So that leaves, um, family values? From the party that’s had sex scandal after sex scandal after sex scandal after sex scandal after sex scandal all since Obama took office with his loving family in tow, that may prove unsustainable.

So if they can’t campaign on policy or ideology or leadership or personality, I guess we’ll be hearing more cheers about how great it is that Chicago lost the 2016 Olympic bid and other silly memoranda suitable for publishing on the Fail Blog.

In the end, the GOP owes its continued existence to the fact that individual Republicans are so loyal. They’ll just keep on goose-stepping, even when they don’t have anyone to lead the march.

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS

Originally published at BuzzFlash.com.

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