Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele's announcement that he would seek reelection, despite his broad and deep unpopularity among everyone from establishment Republicans to conservative bloggers, has turned quite a few heads. It's also united the somewhat disparate GOP in a way that even President Barack Obama has not always done. They all, it seams, badly want him out. Politico's Ben Smith notes, "Michael Steele does turn out to be, in his way, a unifying figure for the GOP." Here's what conservatives are saying.
- 10 Things We Hate About You The National Review sighs, "We admire his pluck, but not his judgment. It's time for someone else to run the RNC." Here are some of their complaints:
- "Steele doesn’t have the discipline of a party operative."
- "His tactical choices seemed at times driven as much by personal exigencies as by party priorities."
- "Lashing out at Rush Limbaugh."
- "Calling Afghanistan 'A war of Obama’s choosing.'"
- "Speechifying and fundraising in Guam" in the run-up to the midterm elections.
- "Steele has claimed credit for the historic  midterm victories" but this is "delusional."
- Steele's "fundraising mismanagement at the committee" left fundraising low.
- "The RNC's anemic grassroots mobilization and voter-turnout efforts."
- "The subpar reputation the RNC has earned under Steele’s leadership"
- "The $20,000-apiece corporate speeches, the Regnery book, and the accompanying media plugs all gave Steele, fairly or not, the whiff of the political profiteer."
- Biggest Failure Was as Fundraiser Hot Air's Allahpundit says Steele alienated big donors as he sought out small ones:
The RNC typically lives and dies by big donors, and it’s big donors who are already allegedly threatening to formally boycott the organization if Steele is reelected. A big grassroots push on his behalf would only scare them further away, so unless Steele can convince the committee that they’re better off financially with small contributions from a huge pool of grassroots donors than they are with huge donations from a small pool of rich guys, there’s no incentive for committee members to play along.
- And He Just Had Another Scandal His announcement of intent "comes after more embarrassing revelations about Steele's financial irresponsibility. (This revelation borders on graft.)," The Conservative Heritage Times' Red Phillips fumes. "Steele is a buffoon. He has no shame."
- Underlying Problem: Steele Thinks the Job Is All About Him The Weekly Standard's Jay Cost boils it down to Steele's preference for media hits over fundraising, which suffered.
Early in his term, Steele seemed to have the misimpression that his job as chairman of the RNC was to be the public face of the party. So, he did talk shows, radio interviews and the like, and he made gaffe (after gaffe after gaffe!). But that's not what the RNC chairman is supposed to do. He is not in charge of formulating party policy or even "spreading the word." His job above all else is to raise money, which the RNC then disperses to cash-strapped state party organizations, gubernatorial candidates, and upon occasion to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).
- He Can't Even Announce His Candidacy Right Steele is running "contrary to the fervent hopes of, well, darn near everyone," lexington_concord at RedState laments. Even Steele's statement announcing his candidacy gets pummeled for its errors, for "the quality of the writing contained therein," and for the "embarrassing" conference call preceding it. "Given the quality of his work as RNC Chair over the previous term, I don't suppose any of us should be shocked that it contains as many errors as it does."