Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Michael Steele: Hip-Hop This!

In the words of Vince Lombardi: “What the hell’s going on out there?”

The recent dust-up between RNC Chairman Michael Steele and Rush Limbaugh illustrates the dichotomy tearing away at the credibility of the Republican Party. On the one hand, to be a viable political party, the GOP must present a significantly different point of view than its opponent, the Dems. OTOH, it must be trustworthy and reliable in its principled opposition, "truthy" to its supporters when the chips are down. It is currently doing neither.

What’s going on is that the gap between the political Republican party and its voters/supporters is on full display. The political arm, trying to win elections in an increasingly liberal world, is trying to become inoffensive as it hopes to draw “moderates” to their voting columns to sustain a majority. The problem, as Rush Limbaugh often points out, is that moderates have no views – they're less thoughtful than merely incapable. They swing between political viewpoints because they essentially eschew politics and its conflict-laden environment. They want “bi-partisanship”, an unattainable political view when deciding who gets what, when and how. And the political Republican party is willing to give them this comity to gain votes, they think.

The supporting Republican masses are more ideological, mostly centered around smaller, less expensive government, personal liberty, and a strong national defense. They see a collapse of traditional American values, in many cases aided and abetted by Republicans. They simply don’t trust the political Republicans anymore in key or landmark battles.

In the midst of this Michael Steele became Chairman of the RNC, whose job it is to elect Republicans to office. That means raising funds and doling them out. The biggest challenge is bringing both sides together. The pols need money, and the base increasingly won’t pay for uncertain political loyalty.

Steele’s D.L. Hughley appearance on CNN was an “outreach” attempt to the urban hip-hop electorate. Steele apparently has this idea that the streetwise, poorly educated, and ill-informed are a better bet for conversion to Republicanism than the Historically Black College crowd that tossed Oreo cookies his way a few years ago.

Actually, it is clear he is trying to by-pass the entrenched Black Dems and try to talk empowerment to a younger generation that is living the failure of Dem run cities like Baltimore, Detroit and others. And, so, former Fox News pundit turned political conduit to urban youth Steele settled into a televised, true barber shop conversation with the host and another guest, rapper "Chuck D", and got himself jammed when the inter-bro convo turned to Republicans = Nazis - with Steele saying to Hughley, "And you're right." Whaaat??

Whoops…trying to become instructive to the misinformed young bloods, seizing the opportunity to dialogue earnestly about these false perceptions and demonstrate how Republicanism actually mirrors many of the values of the African-American community, providing a Black history Month lesson on the community’s links to the party, Steele first dropped cred by stereotyping the legendary "Public Enemy" as a product of the projects. Then he inexplicably agreed with Hughley's premise that Limbaugh was a purveyor of incendiary rhetoric.

After asserting he was the leader of the Republican Perty, Steele “inartfully” put Limbaugh into context, saying, "Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh, his whole thing is entertainment. Yes, he's incendiary. Yes, it's ugly."

Chuck D: "He would say anything."

Hughley: "You're the first Republican, and I've talked to a lot, who's said he's not the leader of the party. I've never heard anybody say that on anybody's show. We get past a lot of things when three men, all from different kinds of backgrounds, all have different ideological views, look, I can respect that in you. You know what? I don't have any preconceived notions. I thought you were a bright guy then, and I think you're even brighter than I did before. But, but I just think that the brand you're selling ain't for us, it's just not! "

Steele: "What I'm saying is, the brand needs help. The brand needs work. There's no doubt about that. I'm not trying to sell it. What I'm trying to do is make it as valuable, and something that people can look at and consider. And I do think we have something to say on some very serious issues that touch a lot of people on empowerment, ownership and opportunity. And I'm going to make sure we say it."

Steele plainly failed a simple leadership test, and it wasn’t even prime time questioning, nor the product of vicious false context editing.

Be real, be true...and, sorry to say, it’s approaching time to say goodnight, Michael – Once more and you’re fired!

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