Is Michael Steele for Real or Is He Just Posturing by Challenging Obama?
Is Michael Really Made of Steele?
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By Jim Sondergeld
Not that I’m not happy to see him manifest some partisan spunk, but I’d be happier if the Man of Steele didn’t have to be fed Kryptonian powers to overcome his natural preference for kryptonite:
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele has launched a direct attack on the Obama administration in a new party mailing, accusing the president of being part of the “blame America first” crowd, the Washington Times has learned.
Criticized by some Republicans for not taking on the Democratic president hard enough or often enough, Mr. Steele took the gloves off in a fundraising letter sent Monday totwelve million party supporters.
Recipients included RNC donors and the mailing lists of two conservative organizations, Human Events and GOPUSA, according to RNC communications director Trevor Francis.
Is it just me, or is this handwear removal not aimed primarily at Red Barry but at a less than thrilled base that is starved for some national leadership? Certainly the role of titular party head is a multifaceted balancing act, but from whence comes the idea that “red meat” can’t be blended and interwoven with a positive, pro-active policy vision? Whatever happened to compare and contrast? If you spit out such an RNC mailing like a brick - particularly if there’s little or no followup - it becomes difficult to see it as anything other than Chairman Steele trying to “diamondize” his base critics. Frankly I’d rather see him get tagged with a reputation as a hatchetman simply because at least that way he’d HAVE a reputation. Far better would be a man who wasn’t earning himself a reputation as the cypher for the the ideas of whomever is the last individual or group to get hold of him last.
Not to get all Battlestar Galactica derivative on your heinies, but now’s not the time for Michael Steele to become the Kara Thrace of the GOP.
*** For those Pachyderms out there holding out some shred of hope after the betrayals of the past five years, and particularly the “stimulus” backstabbing, that the minority side of the U.S. Senate might finally recognize the extreme utility of shedding some of its “clubbiness” in the interests of partisan survival, get ready to see just how impenetrable the “stupid party” label really is:
Senator John Cornyn says Republican Senator Arlen Specter is the GOP’s “best bet” to keep his Pennsylvania Senate seat from falling into Democrats’ hands.
“As I survey the political landscape of the upcoming 2010 elections,” Cornyn wrote in a letter released by his office Tuesday, “it’s clear we need more candidates that fit their states. While I doubt Arlen could win an election in my home state of Texas, I am certain that I could not get elected in Pennsylvania. I believe that Senator Specter is our best bet to keep this Senate seat in the GOP column. A vote for Arlen Specter is a vote for denying Harry Reid and the Democrats a filibuster-proof Senate.”
Cornyn’s endorsement amounts to an admission that Republicans have enough to worry about without spending resources to try to oust one of their own.
I’m not going to get into Senator Cornyn’s irrelevant, tortured justifications for backing Snarlin’ Arlen. I like and immensely respect the Texas junior senator; he’s a good man, a courageous and effective conservative leader, which is much of why he’s the GOP’s point man on rebuilding the party in the upper chamber after Liddy Dole and John Ensign ran it into the bloody ground. I think he knows that he’s peddling a bad hand, that he knows Specter can’t be counted on when his party most needs him (a situation ever present when only one vote above losing filibuster power), that in his heart and his head he knows that Pat Toomey is both the best choice to represent the Republicans for Specter’s seat and the favorite to hold it in what should be a huge GOP year. And, as a practical matter, I think Senator Cornyn knows that the true waste of resources is to squander a disproportionate quantity of them - and dwindle what his committee can extract - by trying to shove Snarlin’ Arlen down the throats of conservative grassrootsers that didn’t want him the last time (or Linc Chafee in 2006) and sure as rain in Seattle aren’t going to make THAT mistake again.
Of course, if Senator Cornyn knows all these things, one would also think that he might actually get on board with Pat Toomey now and recognize that his party doesn’t really “hold” that Pennsylvania senate seat other than when it suits Specter’s purposes to claim what he has to in order to hornswaggle keystoners into letting him keep it. He could actually make the NRSC job grow to accomodate him rather than vice versa. That’d certainly be a welcome change, and couldn’t help but produce better results.
Not to get circuitous myself, but is John Cornyn being set up to fail just like his two hapless predecessors, or can he really not know any better? To the degree that the Specter endorsement is symptomatic, it certainly does not bode well.
*** Never has injustice and inevitability forced so honorable a man into such a position of utterly putrid moral squalor:
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is hedging on whether he’ll sign Democrat Al Franken’s election certificate, should GOP Senator Norm Coleman lose his expected election appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
“I don’t know whether [a certificate] would be required to be issued,” Pawlenty told Minnesota Public Radio on Monday. “I’m not saying I wouldn’t issue the certificate. I’m just saying we should have all of the facts in front of us before we precommit to something like that.”
That prompted Franken attorney Marc Elias to remark, “With all due respect to Governor Pawlenty, it’s not his job or his role to try to second-guess … the state Supreme Court.”
On Monday evening, the three-judge panel hearing Coleman’s election contest ruled that Franken had won the election. During the election lawsuit, Franken’s lead over Coleman actually increased from 225 to 312 votes.
Coleman’s lawyers have promised to appeal that verdict to the Minnesota Supreme Court, and have ten days to do so.
I can well and amply sympathize with the appalling position to which Governor Tim Pawlenty is being bulldozed into giving his official blessing. To employ an Oklahoma! metaphor, it’s like being Curly McLain coming home one day and finding the former Laurie Williams “involved” with Jud Frey, and AddoAnnie’s father not only nullifying Curly’s and Laurie’s marriage but requiring Curly to give Laurie away at her wedding to Jud. “Salt in the wound” and “insult to injury” don’t begin to metaphorize this travesty.
But then I cited Norm Coleman’s nauseating post-election incompetence as Al Franken’s #1 accomplice in the Infamous Gopher State Senatorial Heist two weeks ago, and that was before his legal team took a contest phase that shouldn’t possibly have done anything other than overturn Stuart Smalley’s grand electoral larceny and actually dug their client an even deeper hole.
This is what it’s come down to for Tim Pawlenty: he may have no choice but to sign Franken’s election certificate - not per state law, not per mounting political pressure, not because Dirty Harry is going to seat Franken regardless, but because if he lets Coleman flail and flounder around any longer, the Err Amerika reject’s victory could reach landslide proportions, and the insufferable SOB may starting cheating his way to T.P.’s job next.
If there’s any consolation for Coleman, it’s that his colleague from Texas is giving indications that the NRSC job will probably be available again a year and half from now. At the rate things are going up there, you won’t have to be an actual officeholder to qualify.
*** This is a little like the bookend candidacy to Barry Goldwater’s 1964 kamikaze run:
More than a decade after he stepped down as speaker of the House into what seemed like almost certain political oblivion, Newt Gingrich is back and seemingly more relevant than ever.
Gingrich seems to be everywhere these days, headlining an endless circuit of GOP dinners, popping up on TV news shows, authoring yet another best-selling book and acting as a policy guru to out-of-power congressional Republicans on how to do battle with the Democratic White House.
As beleaguered Republicans look for a standard bearer after last year’s disastrous election, they’ve been tossing around the names of flashy new stars like Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the 2008 vice presidential candidate, and Louisiana GovernorBobby Jindal, young and Indian American in a party that’s increasingly identified with older white men.
But could the GOP’s savior instead be a wonkish, twice-divorced throwback to the fiercely partisan Republican revolution?
God bless you, Newt, but in (almost) the words of the late George Carlin, “CRAP, NO!”
Please, do not misunderstand me; I love Newt Gingrich. Without him nationalizing the 1994 mid-term elections and galvanizing the center-right with the Contract with America, there’d have been no landslide GOP triumph (significant gains, certainly, but not outright majorities). That victory stood the test of time, lasting over a decade and oulasting Newt’s speakership and only foundering upon the abandonment of the core principles on which the Gingrich “revolution” was built. He’s an invaluable party leader, particularly in the role of “party ideologist” and congressional advisor for a party that has inexcusably fallen so bereft of them to the point where some RINOs are even throwing the timeless Ronald Reagan himself under the bus as “yesterday’s news”.
But running for president fits about as well on Newt Gingrich as socks on a rooster.
Like it or not, the stratospheric negatives the Left hung around his neck in the ’90s stuck like bad tattoes. The reason why they stuck is much of what would make the former Speaker such a horrible presidential candidate: he had all the delightful red meat piss & vinegar unleavened by a Reaganesque “sunny” side to his public persona, which made him easy to negatively caricature. That tempermental imbalance made his temper all the more difficult to conceal or spin, which reflected on how people viewed whether his personality and character met the “presidential” threshold. Ditto his apparent inability to handle success, leading to such gaffes as complaining about getting dissed by Clinton by having to sit in the baggage compartment of Air Force One, and the eventual soap opera-seque “coup” that ended his speakership after three and a half tumultuous years. All things to think about when compared to the iron, if insipidly bland, discipline with which George W. Bush rose to the presidency and carried through two full terms.
If Dubya took the “New Tone” inanity to ludicrous and self-incapacitating lengths, Mr. Newt took his Klingonesque partisan warrior ethic to the opposite extreme. Which is fine for what is now his best strength and role within the party, as advisor and shephard for a new Republican majority that will inevitably rise upon the ashes of Obama-era hard-left overreach - really, not all that dissimilar from his 1994 mission, minus what was in it for him back then - but God-awful when the task becomes unseating Godbama.
And I haven’t even touched upon the practical, nuts & bolts fact that Newt Gingrich has never won a statewide race, much less a national contest. That’s what he’d have had to do sometime in the past decade, most opportunely in his home state of Georgia in 2002 when the governorship was ripe for the taking. Newt’s disinterest or ego spasm ended up being Sonny Perdue’s gain. Or perhaps he figured that he couldn’t win statewide even in Georgia, which would burst the balloon of a Gingrich presidential run even deader than it appeared already, making him have to wait so long for everybody in the GOP nominating electorate to forget that he’d have to tap Ted Williams as his running mate. Looks to me like James K. Polk’s historical perch as last House Speaker to win election to the presidency is in no immediate or long term danger.
Lastly, do not knock the adjectives “flashy” and “new”. Those two commodities hold a great deal of cachet in our society, however unworthy and undeserved they may be. Indeed, “flashy” and “new” didn’t hinder Barry O’s rise, particularly against the “dull” and “old” we wheelchaired out there to counter him. After four years of his dishonest, extremist, crisis-mongering, calamity-laden upheaval, voters are going to be even hungrier for “flashy” and “new” that is joined by “sane” and “responsible” and “commonsensical” and “American”. A Palin-Jindal ticket would be all those traits with a bullet plus all the Gipperesque patriotic optimism that can overcome the inevitable Obamunist guttersniping. A Gingrich-Whomever standard would be a permanent diversion from all of Barack Obama’s mammoth vulnerabilities, a veritable Godsend to an American Left deservedly embattled but delivered afresh by the Stupid Party’s biggest debacle yet.
No matter how good a party’s ideas, they will not sell themselves. They need a viable vehicle. In politics, that vehicle is salable candidates. And chief amongst them is the presidential standardbearer. Sarah Palin is post-Radiator Springs Lightning McQueen; Newt Gingrich is a totaled GMC Topkick C4500 pickup truck no tow truck has bothered to pluck off the side of the road. There are plenty of viable spare parts to harvest, but which one do you want to run in the Big Race?
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