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December 13, 2010

Steele To Announce He's Quitting RNC Job Tonight?

A conference call with supporters.

Fox News has confirmed Steele sent an e-mail to committee members Saturday night with the subject line, “conference call.”

In the note, he asked members to join him "for a private conference call" Monday evening.

It's a good move, assuming it's true. Steele's RNC overspent and also lost the confidence of donors, winding up so cash-poor they couldn't even mount the traditional, critical 72-hours-before-the-election get out the vote campaign properly, and had to resort to less-effective but much cheaper initiatives like their call 40 friends program.

That's a good program, and should be continued, but it can't take the place of traditional face-to-face, door-to-door GOTV efforts. Our lack of a ground game probably cost us 5 seats and who knows, maybe a close Senate race too.

Steele had a good basic idea of outreach to independents to bring them into the GOP fold, and there's nothing necessarily wrong with his decision to make himself the chief spokesman for these efforts. But his message strategy was all wrong, and he wound up alienating conservatives in his effort to win over independents -- rather than push central conservative ideology in attractive new arguments, he often accepted the criticism of conservatism as a method to demonstrate his own reasonableness as a spokesman and thus draw in independents.

Calling Rush Limbaugh "just an entertainer" was a formulation, for example, that might please independents, but certainly it angered conservatives, 80% of whom are fans of Rush and certainly don't think he's just an entertainer.

Later, this time I think trying to win over both independents and disaffected Tea Party conservatives, he conceded that the GOP wasn't ready to govern-- a strange statement to make 6 or 9 months out from an important midterm election.

The problem was that Michael Steele may have been building up his personal credibility with independents or disaffected conservatives, but the way he was doing that was to concede that the GOP was badly flawed -- so even as he may have increased his own credibility, he reduced the GOP's itself, and the latter, of course, is really far more important.

The leader of a party apparatus might sound rather robotic in repeating mantra and doctrine, but that is what the job requires. A leader of a fractious organization can't spend so much of his time talking about how bad the organization is, at least not publicly. That sort of public criticism of an organization/movement, is the ambit of outsiders, not the ultimate insider, the top official of and national spokesman for the party apparatus.

Michael Steele set out to be a more-interesting-and-unpredictable-than-usual GOP head. His goal was wrongheaded from the start. A leader might make unexpected and surprising arguments -- that's a good thing, always -- but the head of the RNC should be perfectly predictable and downright boring in the conclusions he comes to.

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posted by Ace at 02:24 PM

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