GOP Makes Steele Persona Non Grata


Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, has been pretty much wiped off the face of the earth, or at least the face of the party. He wasn’t even invited to the Republican National Convention in Tampa and he is barely mentioned at all these days.

Steele was chairman when the party selected Tampa as the site of its 2012 convention. Steele was chairman when the GOP came roaring back after defeats in 2006 and 2008 to pick up 63 seats to gain control of the House in 2010, and also to gain six seats to greatly strengthen its position in the Senate. In addition, during Steele’s time in office, Republicans won key governorships in New Jersey and Virginia.

But at the University Club, Steele was not only not there; he wasn’t noted or referenced. In public remarks, no one said anything bad about him, and no one said anything good about him. He just didn’t exist.

“I have not been invited to the convention at all,” Steele says. “Their view is, the less we talk about him, we don’t invite him, we ignore him — it just didn’t happen. But those 63 seats in the House did happen. They may want to ignore me, but they don’t want to ignore what I did. It’s just sad.”

“I would have loved to have been there to salute the work of the party and see former chairmen,” Steele adds. “But I guess I’m not a member of that club.”

As it happens, Steele is in Tampa, but only, he says, in his role as an analyst on MSNBC. He won’t be attending any events in his role as former chairman…

Whatever bad blood exists privately, it is remarkable that the GOP’s most recent chairman has no role at all in the convention whose planning he initiated. He’s also the man who was in charge when the party won smashing victories in the most recent mid-term elections. And he didn’t gain power in a coup; he was elected chairman by a majority of members of the RNC. Finally, Steele is the party’s only black chairman at a time when Republicans are particularly worried about their continuing difficulties in attracting minority voters. Why not have him play some public role in the convention? And if there are still hard feelings — well, it would hardly be the first time that people who didn’t like each other joined hands and smiled in front of the crowds.

He was pretty much a disaster as RNC chairman, of course, and the idea that he had something to do with the party’s electoral gains in 2010 is rather laughable. But to just write him out of the convention he helped plan? That seems like petty politics at best.

Comments

  1. d cwilson says

    OT, but Herman Cain was on The Daily Show. Stewart asked him why thought polls were showing that Obama’s support among African-Americans was 94% while their support for Romney was statistically zero.

    “You are the margin of error,” he said.

    Cain’s reply that the African-Americans who support Romney weren’t polled because they were “at work”. Stewart fired back that he made the reason why his party is having so much trouble attracting minority voters readily apparent.

  2. Michael Heath says

    Gregory in Seattle:

    He… well, you know. He looks like the President, and that would only annoy the peanut-throwing base.

    Not true, every other non-white member of the GOP has secured a speaking slot at this week’s convention.

  3. says

    @Michael Heath #3

    Gregory in Seattle:

    He… well, you know. He looks like the President, and that would only annoy the peanut-throwing base.

    Not true, every other non-white member of the GOP has secured a speaking slot at this week’s convention.

    Wow, both of them?

  4. anteprepro says

    I wonder if their strategy of throwing people down the memory hole will work out. Normally they just throw events, statements, personal activities, policies, military activities, scientific facts, historical facts, and logic down there. I am not sure if people will fit.

  5. Alverant says

    Face it, he was only elected because of his race and the GOP was trying to shed their reputation as racists. Once it became clear that wasn’t working, they forgot about him. For me, he lost my respect and any hope I might have had for the party to improve itself when he groveled to Limbaugh for forgivness.

  6. dingojack says

    I wonder what the story behind the ‘un-personing’ of Chairman Steele is all about? Perhaps the RNC decided he was ‘double plus ungood’, but not worth a ‘two minute hate’.
    Dingo

  7. slc1 says

    Nothing new about this. Richard Nixon, after he left the White House one step ahead of the sheriff, was thereafter an unperson at Rethuglican conventions.

  8. says

    Steele was chairman when the GOP came roaring back after defeats in 2006 and 2008 to pick up 63 seats to gain control of the House in 2010, and also to gain six seats to greatly strengthen its position in the Senate. In addition, during Steele’s time in office, Republicans won key governorships in New Jersey and Virginia.

    How much did Steele have to do with any of that? It’s not like he was ever a central part of the racist teatardian insanity that’s been dominating public discourse since 2008. As RNC cnhairman, his first official act was to criticize Rush Limbaugh; and his second official act was to kowtow and apologize for ever criticizing Rush Limbaugh. Excluding Steele from the convention only further proves that a) Rush Limbaugh is the real head of the party, and b) the party can’t bear to admit they ever tried to pretend otherwise.

  9. says

    Seems to me that there are numerous interacting factors to explain this, but my utter cynicism about the party brings race to the top of that list.

    Don’t know the story with the non-white Republicans who are there. My aforementioned cynicism suspects they’re sufficiently deferential to not be a problem, where Steele might be remembered as “uppity” for his criticism of Limbaugh.

    Of course, I’m open to alternate hypotheses, especially since there are probably even worse answers I just don’t have the political imagination to devise.

    …Anyone know if Steele ever said anything significant about rape?

  10. gshevlin says

    Tempting though it is to ascribe the conversion of Michael Steele to a non-person as a consequence of racism, I am not convinced that is the real reason. After all, George W and Jeb Bush are almost invisible and barely mentioned at this convention, and both of them were elected to high office in the past. I prefer to think of it as due to embarrassment. The GOP is conscious of the fact that George W Bush is not highly regarded by many for his term as POTUS (and some of the items that the GOP rants about, like the stimulus bill and the auto bailout, were conceived while he was the POTUS). Jeb Bush committed the cardinal sin of trying to warn the GOP to not be an exclusive party. Michael Steele upset Rush Limbaugh, amongst other infractions. Ron Paul and his supporters refused to quietly Toe The Line and Endorse Mitt. The list is a pretty long one, and the unifying factor is punishment for not being True Idelogues and marching in lock-step. SOP for an authoritarian organization.

  11. jesse says

    @gshevlin– not true that – McCain spoke at the convention the other night.

    He did look like he wanted to be anywhere else, though.

  12. twincats says

    Michael Steele upset Rush Limbaugh, amongst other infractions.

    Does being an analyst on MSNBC figure as one of those?

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