Monday morning, Politico broke news of a testy GOP meeting last month, with congressional leaders telling RNC chairman Michael Steele to back off a bit on making policy pronouncements. They reportedly took exception to Steele's "seniors' 'health care bill of rights,'" which had been unveiled in the Washington Post and which strayed significantly from the party line by defending Medicare. Spectators love an in-party spat, and even liberal bloggers are picking sides.

  • Steele Leading Party Back Towards True Conservatism Ken Taylor at The Minority Report doesn't think Steele is going centrist (as Ben Smith suggests). On the contrary, Taylor believes Steele "is attempting to move the GOP to conservatism" after some leftward drift. That's a good thing, Taylor believes, but "his problem is that we STILL have a lack of real conservative candidates to take the GOP away from the country club and bring it back to the conservatives who were the driving force during the Reagan and Gingrich Revolutions."
  • Steele Correct, but Ignorant Steve Benen, a liberal blogger for the Washington Monthly not known for his admiration of the RNC chairman, writes that he's "not entirely unsympathetic to Steele's predicament":
He reportedly reminded GOP leaders that he travels the country, and Republican activists ask where the party stands on a range of issues. Since Republican leaders in the House and Senate prefer not to have a policy agenda, Steele is using his post to just fill the vacuum.

The problem, though, is that he's not doing it very well.
  • Congressional Leaders Right--Steele's Embarassing The National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez doesn't share Benen's sympathy for the chairman. "More and more often," she writes, "I find myself in conversations about Steele in Washington where someone says 'They should have just kept Mike Duncan.' Sometimes, someone responds, 'Who?' But at least as GOP party chairman, Duncan was not making bad news."
  • No One Should Listen to Congressional Republicans "If you're Michael Steele," writes Joe Sudbay for left-leaning Americablog, "you must be looking around that room thinking, 'You're the clowns that led us to the point where Democrats have the presidency, a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and a wide margin in the House.'"