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Calvin Freiburger

Should Steele Stay or Should He Go?

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Posted on July 6 2010 6:00 pm
Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College. He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.

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Buffoonish RNC Chair Michael Steele has received numerous resignation demands for his recent jaw-dropping attempt to recast the Afghanistan War as a war of Barack Obama’s choosing. But at the Daily Beast, Tunku Varadarajan says now’s not the best time to drop Steele. Not because Steele has any heretofore unrecognized merit—Varadarajan calls him the “Republican Twit of the Week”—but because it would be more trouble than it’s worth at the moment:

Steele has little ability to make a positive contribution to any potential Republican surge. But his sacking now would be a massive distraction from the Republican election effort, not to mention the free provision, to both Democrats and American voters, of damaging political theater. (Let us not underestimate, too, how difficult it would be for the RNC to attain the two-thirds vote necessary to unseat… a black man, one who was elected to party office in the same month—January 2009—that Obama was inaugurated president. The GOP is here hoist with its own affirmative-action petard.)

The best course for the party is benign, constructive neglect; and the party can afford to adopt this course. As Kimberley A. Strassel wrote in a Wall Street Journal column way back in April, Steele has scarcely been a dab hand at the things RNC chairmen are expected to do for the party: to raise money, and to be “the nerve center of the all-important, get-out-the-vote operations.” Republicans, she wrote, “are worried the money for those RNC-only tasks won’t be there. They are worried about focus. ‘I don’t need Michael Steele on TV to say what is wrong with Barack Obama,’ says one GOP operative. ‘We have an entire party to do that. I need him compiling micro-targeted voter information.'” As we’ve seen, Steele hasn’t been sweating this little-big stuff, concentrating instead on being a puffed-up, frequently absurd version of a “shadow president.”

First, he’s probably right that a forcible removal of Steele just won’t happen any time soon, and I see no reason to think Steele would voluntarily step down unless public pressure was overwhelming enough to make a forcible removal possible anyway.  Even so, calls for his resignation are still useful—even if they don’t get him out, they send a signal that Steele doesn’t speak for the rest of the Right.

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