March 8th, 2010

Et Tu, Politico? Downing Michael Steele

by Philip Baruth

Look, we’ve never put too much stock in the Michael Steele show here at VDB. Don’t think we’ve ever written a post about the guy before now, in fact. Why? Because with Michael Steele the fail is so very much out front, and in that sense there’s no sport. Still, there’s an interesting dynamic developing and it’s worth noodling over for just a bit.

Fair to say that rank and file Republicans could care less about who runs the RNC. But for the power brokers and the heavy-hitting donors, it’s crucial. It’s a shrinking minority of those types who continue to support Michael Steele.

Especially in light of the fact that the GOP and the Tea Party folks and Rush Limbaugh have been flirting with an openly racist approach to the nation’s first African American President. Flirting is putting it mildly, of course.

All that talk about Barack Obama wanting to “ram health care down your throat,” all those comparisons to the way Tiger Woods treated his wife, all those weirdly pre-emptive accusations that Obama is himself a fascist racist out to dominate White America, it’s all an ugly overarching theme in search of a series of acceptable memes.

And Michael Steele stands to lose as much by it as anyone.

Steele is not only being targeted openly by other power brokers who’d like more direct access to the pie he currently divides. He’s also being undermined every day by the sense of White grievance that the far Right is actively fomenting.

And Politico has become the dagger of choice for those who want Steele gone.

Take a look at the current storylines at the site. Having broken the story of the bone-headed RNC power-point, which dissed major donors and openly embraced the politics of fear, and which was leaked to Politico by an unnamed “Democrat who found” the material, the website continues to follow up. Most recently they tracked down a prominent donor who has closed his checkbook in response to the brouhaha. And they’ve covered the digs against the RNC by prominent GOP figures.

And, not incidentally, they have a piece up this morning pointing out just how badly the RNC is lagging in fundraising. Not to put too fine a point on it, they mention that RNC totals have been falling “as tension mounts between the party’s major donors and RNC Chairman Michael Steele over his spending and style of leadership.”

Very convenient, of course, that it’s an unnamed Democrat who happened to be attending the GOP retreat and somehow got access to the inner sanctum just in time to pick up a copy of the now-infamous RNC power-point that had been carelessly left behind.

Let’s go at it with Occam’s razor for just a minute. Isn’t it much easier to believe that anti-Steele forces within the GOP conveyed the powerpoint to Politico? And that the drumbeat, which the Party is allowing to continue, is aimed at ousting Steele while the ousting is good?

Suddenly Republicans think that a new majority is within their grasp. Suddenly they realize that Michael Steele will take credit for that new majority.

Remember the way that James Carville tried to knife Howard Dean in the immediate aftermath of the 2006 midterms? Fortunately the dust settled, and the success of the 50-State Strategy was inarguable, and Carville was forced to go nurse his wounds.

But it’s a good reminder: that sort of potential win attracts pre-emptive challenges. And in a party environment like today’s Tea-infused GOP, the RNC’s first African American Chairman would seem to be highly vulnerable.

So if you were going to launch this pre-emptive attack on Steele, when would you do so for maximum effect and minimal blowback? Work back from Election Day in November. You’d need at least six months or so to clear the air of Steele’s counter-accusations.

That makes June 1 your drop-dead date. And you’ll need several months of increasing party enmity toward Steele, based on something concrete, irrefutable, and, in a best case scenario, with a visual component for the cameras.

Enter Politico’s series of scoops in late February, early March. Shake and stir for another two or three months.

Prediction? Michael packs his bags by May Day, or mid-June at the latest. And on that day, VDB will invoke the ancient wisdom: live by the sword, die by the sword.

One Response to ' Et Tu, Politico? Downing Michael Steele '

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  1. on March 29th, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    […] We brought you coverage of the plot to get Michael Steele a few weeks back, and argued that with the elite of his party so clearly gunning for him, Steele had until May Day or thereabouts before he’d be packing his bags at the RNC. Right on time: today’s damaging spending reports, especially charges rung up at a California bondage club. Steele claims (with cause, we would argue) that someone’s out to get him. But let’s face facts. When Steele took over last year, the RNC had $22 million and they’ve raised $96 million since. Which is a total of $118 million. How much left today, just 365 days later? Less than $10 million. Which is ballgame, friends. […]