The latest step in RNC Chairman Michael Steele's ongoing do-si-do to keep his job came yesterday as he gave a major speech urging the party to become invigorated in taking on a popular President Obama and a unified Democratic Washington:
“We are going to take the president head-on. The honeymoon is over. The two-party system is making a comeback, and that comeback starts today,” Steele said in remarks to an RNC meeting in Maryland.
“The president is personally popular. Pity the fool who paid for a poll to figure that out,” Steele said. “So…what’s the loyal opposition to do with this popular president? We are going to speak truth to power. We are going to speak directly, and we are going to take him on.”
But the question remains whether Steele will be as aggressive as some Republicans want. He cautioned that tone matters:
“We are going to take this president on with dignity,” he said. “This will be a very sharp and marked contrast to the shabby and classless way that the Democrats and the far left spoke of President Bush.”
But, Steele's own Committee members seem hell-bent on upsetting the party applecart – even as Steele himself does in making unwise rhetorical or management mistakes.
For example, on Wednesday, party leaders are pushing to pass a bylaw officially declaring that their political opposition should be called the “Democrat Socialist Party.” Steele doesn't like the idea, calling it (rightly), “name-calling, finger-pointing and blaming,"
Another word: Dumb.
Exactly what does calling the other guys the “Democrat Socialist Party” achieve? For years, Republicans have made reference to “the Democrat Party” (as opposed to its official name, “the Democratic Party”), to coyly insinuate its a European-style big government party (a la “Christian Democrats” or “Social Democrats”). Of course, that did nothing (except get Democrats annoyed). Does the RNC really think that now calling Democrats, “Democratic Socialists” will do anything – other than make the party (the Republican Party) look ridiculous?
During the Bush years, how would it have looked if the DNC decided to pass a resolution calling the GOP, the “Republican Fascist Party”? The party – and any who used the phrase – would have looked like out-of-step, extremists – the very image of what Michelle Malkin refers to as “moonbats.”
On the other hand, Steele himself continues to make what can only be considered head-scratching decisions:
Mr. Steele hired another family friend, Angela Sailor, to be the party's outreach director at a salary of $180,000, more than double her predecessor's compensation, though new responsibilities have been added to the job, according to a high-ranking RNC official and Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings.
Mr. Steele's early record and personnel decisions figure to be hot topics at a special meeting of Republican state party chairmen Tuesday and Wednesday at National Harbor in Washington's Maryland suburbs. His hiring of friends and the salaries he is paying them already helped to instigate a struggle over who controls the party's purse strings, one that forced the new party chairman to relinquish some control to elected RNC members.
Sailor may be a smart, competent, woman; she worked in the Bush White House for some time. But $180,000 is pretty high even for a top RNC position like political director -- and Sailor is below that. This is especially true for a party out of power.
With items like that, it's no wonder that the RNC members are trying to put clamps down on what Steele should spend -- provoking a threat to quit from Steele if the committee goes through with it.
The Wednesday meeting session should be a juicy one.
Robert A. George is a New York writer. He blogs at Ragged Thots.