Friday, January 30, 2009

The New GOP Leader

Chris Cillizza begins his post in the Washington Post, The Fix, with "The Republican National Committee elected Michael Steele as its first African American chairman today in Washington..."

No wonder. When as Maryland's lieutenant governor Steele ran as the Republican nominee for the United States Senate in 2006, he responded to a question about stem cell research by telling the Baltimore Jewish Council

Look, you of all folks know what happens when people decide they want to experiment on human beings, when they want to take your life and use it as a tool. I know that as well from my community and our experience with slavery.

Assailed for clearly linking stem cell research with the Holocaust, Steele issued a non-apology apology, stating "I offended members of the Jewish community and members of the Maryland community. It was a remark that was an improper inference, because I never specifically said Holocaust. . . . And it did not reflect my attitude and my belief, and I am really sorry about the whole thing." (Sorry I offended you because you misunderstood me.) But Democratic politician and former NAACP President Kweisi Mfume recognized the race card when he saw it: "Any further comparison to equate slavery to stem cell research is a reach that I and others who are the descendants of slaves don't understand."

The remark probably was not out of character for the charismatic Steele. The Washington Post reported on September 24, 2006 of a rally of Democrats for Steele in Baltimore (a heavily Democratic city), where Steele supporters waved signs and gobbled up bumper stickers that said "Steele Democrat."

And the Post on November 7, 2006 described sample ballots distributed on election day by campaign volunteers (some of whom apparently thought the GOP candidates were Democrats) bused into Maryland from Philadelphia. They were "paid for in part by the Bob Ehrlich for Maryland Committee, as well as the Steele committee, as well as the Maryland GOP," according to a Repub spokeswoman, and

Under the heading "Democratic Sample Ballot," the fliers urge voters to select Ehrlich for governor and Steele, his lieutenant governor, for U.S. Senate, along with a largely Democratic slate of candidates for other statewide and local offices.

The Post reported on November 9:

The fliers included a "Democratic Sample Ballot" suggesting that voters back Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Senate candidate Michael S. Steele, both Republicans. Entitled "Ehrlich-Steele Democrats," it pictured three influential Democrats -- Wayne K. Curry, Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson and Kweisi Mfume -- and said at the bottom, "These are OUR choices." Curry had endorsed Steele but not Ehrlich, and neither Johnson nor Mfume had endorsed either candidate.

So Steele, now chairman of the Republican National Committee, ran (unsuccessfully) for the United States Senate in solidly Democratic Maryland pretending he was a Democrat. Black, white, Hispanic, or Asian: Michael Steele is not a conservative, not a moderate, only a political cipher with little notion of integrity.

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