Thursday, March 12, 2009


OK, let me try this again.

This morning I said I wasn't convinced that Michael Steele is going to lose his RNC chairmanship for his remarks in the GQ interview. Even regular readers are mocking me for saying that. Never mind that (as I noted in that earlier post) the rules of the RNC make it hard to oust him, and never mind that Democrats and centrists seem much more certain about the inevitability of his downfall than, you know, members of his own party. But yeah, sure -- he's under more and more pressure. He seems like toast.

Nevertheless, I'll put it this way: I continue to think he's not going to go right away. And the GOP is going to try to make it seem, if he goes, that he's not going for these remarks.

If he goes, the GOP is going to try to make it look as if he's going for some other reason. This will not be particularly convincing. That doesn't mean Republicans won't try.

Thus, today we have right-wing journalist Byron York suddenly discovering Michael Steele financial scandals that were fairly thoroughly discussed already in non-GOP circles. The earlier story (about payments by Steele's 2006 Senate campaign to a firm run by his sister for services that weren't performed) is a month old, yet, to judge from York's article, Republicans are only now feeling shocked, shocked, at the discovery that corruption is going on here:

The allegations, which haven't received much national attention, have nevertheless rattled a number of RNC members across the country. "This came out right after his election," one member told me Wednesday. "If people had known that when he was running, he would not have won."

"The committee is split almost down the middle on this," the member continued. "The people who are concerned are very concerned. These are very serious allegations."

"It's the elephant in the room," another RNC member told me.

So that's one reason the GOP might offer for Steele's ouster. The other (as Sean Quinn of noted a couple of days ago) is the possibility that a Democrat might win the special election to replace Kirsten Gillibrand in the House, in a district that's seen as naturally Republican, even though Gillibrand won there.

Look, Steele was picked because Republicans thought what would impress America was his skin color -- that's Repubs' simple-minded interpretation of the November election. They don't want to go back on what they see as their bold multiculti act of outreach. Republicans also want it to seem (especially to the suburban swing voters they crave) as if they have a "big tent" (yes, while simultaneously talking about "sticking to core principles," which, obviously, is a contradiction in terms); that's why they don't want to seem as if they're getting rid of Steele for failure to adhere to strict conservative dogma on abortion and gay people.

So I think any effort to oust Steele will wait until -- to a really, really gullible person -- it can be argued that this GQ interview wasn't the last straw.


UPDATE: Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post seems to think Steele won't lose his job at all. His five reasons are here.

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