Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

The GOP’s Man of Steele

Posted by Warren Peterson on July 5, 2010

During a 1976 presidential debate with Jimmy Carter, President Ford famously said the nations in the Eastern Block “…did not consider themselves dominated by the Soviet Union…” In the hearts of the people his statement had a kernel of truth, but at the time Eastern Europe was still Communist and under the effective control of the Soviet Union. Ford’s gaffe was heavily criticized, made the butt of many jokes and contributed to his defeat.

Republican National chairman Michael Steele recently had a Jerry Ford moment when an open mike recorded him saying that the war in Afghanistan was Obama’s war of choice and history tells us it is not winnable. Of course, the war began under President Bush as retaliation for 9-11. Obama did claim during the 2008 campaign that Iraq was the wrong war and Afghanistan was the one we should fight. As with Ford, there may be an element of truth in Steele’s comment but given his job, he is not the one to say it.

The job of any national party chair is the three “R”s: Raise money. Rally the troops. Recruit good candidates. Skill requirements include the ability to herd cats, walk a tight rope without falling off too many times and stay on message. A party chair, above all, must not give the opposition openings for attack nor the ammunition to press their assault.

Chairman Steele is an impressive guy. A sharp dresser, good speaker, he knows how to work a room but there has been several openings and deliveries of ammunition to the Democrats under his watch. A dust up with Rush Limbaugh, revelations about speaking fees and a book allegedly criticizing fellow Republicans, lavish spending including strip joints, and his latest off the cuff comments on Afghanistan are among many controversies that have kept the political focus on him rather than the failures of the Democrats.

Mr. Steele has broken too many eggs. Sadly, because there is much to like about him, this Humpty Dumpty must go. The upcoming mid-term elections are far too important to tolerate any distractions especially from party leadership.

Cross posted on: Sound Politics

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