Anyone But Steele

Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor and failed Senate candidate Michael Steele is facing some serious opposition in his campaign to become the next Chairman of the RNC:

Republicans, reeling from another election defeat, have taken to arguing over whether their national leader should come from the elected ranks of the Republican National Committee or be a political celebrity such as former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele.

“For this association of members to choose to outsource its leadership would, I believe, be an abdication of our responsibility,” Curly Haugland, an RNC member from North Dakota and the former North Dakota Republican Party chairman, wrote in an e-mail to Mr. Steele.

Mr. Haugland called on Mr. Steele to quit the contest for Republican national chairman because he is not an RNC member.

“In my estimation, 168 committed members of the Republican National Committee are a powerful army of qualified advocates for Republican principles; certainly much more threatening to the Democrats than one celebrity spokesman,” Mr. Haugland said.


“Your chosen path to leadership of the Republican National Committee exemplifies the problem we should immediately seek to resolve, that being the practice of allowing nonmembers to exert undue influence in the process of selecting our leaders” Mr. Haugland wrote Mr. Steele. “Getting the Republican Party back on the right ‘track’ is a job rightfully left to the Republicans who have been elected to run this railroad.”

First, it’s pretty hilarious that Haugland is arguing that the same people who have been in charge of the Republican Party should remain in charge of it.  If I were a Republican, I would be pushing to replace as much of my party’s leadership as possible because, clearly, something is terribly broken.

But he does have a point–it’s going to take more than a “celebrity” (to use Haugland’s terminology) to fix the GOP.  The Sarah Palin debacle taught us that political celebrity isn’t enough–you actually have to have good ideas in order to have any chance of winning.  Like I’ve said before, despite all of the support Steele has (inexplicably) amassed, it’s difficult to tell what–if anything–he would improve at the RNC.

From what I’ve seen, it looks like the RNC would be in for a few more years of rudderless Mike Duncan-style leadership under Steele.  It’s not enough to just put someone new at the top of the RNC–the Republican Party needs a leader who will change the fundamentals of conservative politics in America.  Without that, 2010 and 2012 are on track to be a repeat of 2006 and 2008.

Which is why I’m not surprised to see some Republican asking for anyone but Steele.